Tom Horne has decided to enter a partnership with PragerU to incorporate their materials into schools. I find this decision to be ill-advised, and so should you.
I find the decision to incorporate PragerU Kids materials as an official option for supplementary materials in Arizona public schools (and American public schools in general) is an appalling choice. Its dismissal of the damage caused by slavery and colonialism and its lack of proof of accreditation proves it is not suitable for education.
Before Tom Horne’s decision to incorporate PragerU into schools, I was aware of PragerU, but never really took the institution seriously. I knew it was a conservative educational organization that made corny videos and kept tweeting about men not being able to get pregnant (over 20 times from their main account, most of which being in 2023 and 2024), only to receive hundreds of quote tweets from chronically online twitter users featuring images of their favorite fictional men with captions along the lines of “we’ll see about that when I’m done with him” or jokes about fan fiction genres featuring male pregnancy. Ridiculous.
I personally do not agree with PragerU’s ideological stances, however I never felt the need to focus on it because I find that giving attention to agendas one finds problematic only gives them more power. That aside, when looking deeper into the issue, I recognize that regardless of any political agendas or views, the inaccurate and poorly worded information being perpetuated by PragerU’s content poses a threat to proper historical education, particularly in regards to issues surrounding colonialism and racism.
The depiction of Christopher Columbus is particularly worrisome: The video on the site features Columbus stating that being taken as a slave is better than death, and that he shouldn't be held to modern standards of morality. It is true that Columbus was a supporter of slavery, however saying that Americans should not hold him to modern standards of morality is, in my opinion, a misstep. When those in the past are not held accountable for their actions in modern times, it creates the idea that their actions should be celebrated or written off, despite the severe amount of damage they may have caused.
Columbus, for example, engaged in the practice of selling and enslaving indigenous tribes, furthering a chain of events leading to multiple cultures being wiped about by European colonists and conquistadors, including the destruction of historical records and artifacts. Additionally, despite the statement that enslavement was better than death, many of said enslaved indigenous people did die, whether it be from being killed in response to a revolt in the Dominican Republic or due to the various European diseases they lacked immunity to. Writing off a cultural genocide creates a harmful narrative that colonial actions did not have negative consequences for those who were not white and European, when in fact the opposite is true.
What I find to be equally insidious is the twisting of Frederick Douglass’ words in order to suit an agenda which supported the early practice of slavery in the U.S.. The video depicting the American abolitionist features him saying “the Constitution is a glorious liberty document,” (a quote from his 1852 Fourth of July speech) and that there being no outlawing of slavery in the original document was a justified compromise for the purpose of convincing the Southern states to join the Union.
There is no historical record of Douglass ever saying that slavery was justified in any way, shape or form, even as a political maneuver to gain support from the South. I find it appalling to even entertain the idea that Douglass, a man who was born into slavery, bought his way out, spent his entire life advocating for U.S. abolition and civil rights movements, and consistently stated that slavery was an ungodly and unjust practice, would ever say that there was an excusable reason for it. While the video states that slavery is bad, the fact that it makes excuses for its previous existence within the U.S. is inherently harmful, due to the fact that it downplays how the societal impacts of it, ranging from socio-economic effects to systemic racism, still have negative consequences for black Americans to this day.
I also find it rather distasteful that the previously mentioned quote was used entirely out of context. In the 1852 speech, Douglass was implying that due to the continued practice of slavery, the Constitution was being interpreted incorrectly. It gives the appearance that whoever wrote the script either did not fully understand the source they were drawing information from or purposely used the quote out of context to fit a narrative.
Issues with historical accuracy aside, I also take issue with the fact that the organization is not accredited. Aside from endorsement from some state’s school systems, there has been no academic endorsement from any other organization, such as the U.S. Department of Education. Additionally, I cannot support a program that wants to be incorporated into schools that does not properly name its authors and sources, neither of which are listed under the videos on both YouTube and the official PragerU website.
In my opinion, if a teacher, parent or student cannot easily find out who created a piece of educational material, their qualifications and what their sources are, that material should not be used in a public school. This is especially true in history, since any and all information usually has origins in accessible primary sources. If one cannot find where a quote came from, there is a non-zero chance that it was never said.
In summary, I find the idea of using PragerU materials in public schools to be harmful due to how the content downplays the effects of colonialism and slavery and lacks any proof of proper accreditation from its writers. I cannot control if parents choose to show the content at home, but I find it inappropriate to show the content to children in public schools.
PragerU also desperately needs a new social media manager. Considering that their account is verified they likely receive a cut of ad revenue from their replies on Twitter/X, so any exposure gets them money. However, being the institution that keeps tweeting about male pregnancy only to get charged responses from Twitter/X users who are INCREDIBLY attracted to the male characters in Genshin Impact is likely not their desired digital footprint.