OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KOKH) — A new partnership between Oklahoma schools and conservative nonprofit PragerU is sparking fierce debate.
PragerU is a media group that puts out digital content the organization describe as pro-American and an alternative to, “dominant left-wing ideology in culture, media, and education.”
The content includes educational videos meant for kids. While some are welcoming this coming to Oklahoma classrooms, others aren’t so happy.
Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters (R) shared his enthusiasm for the partnership in a video related to the announcement that, “we want them to know about American exceptionalism, want them to know about those founding documents, want them to understand what made this country great.”
According to PragerU, it makes age-appropriate educational materials for kids on topics ranging from history to civics to personal finance.
Marissa Streit, CEO of PragerU, told FOX 25 during an interview that, “our goal is not to turn children into political hammers. It is the opposite of what we want to do. We want to engage families. We want to strengthen kids’ education. We want kids to understand the country that they live in.”
According to the CEO, media reports have misrepresented the nonprofit’s content on sensitive issues like slavery.
“We teach the horrors of slavery we teach that discrimination is a terrible thing. We teach that America has really grown and evolved,” she explained.
She asserted that PragerU aims to provide children with perspective when it comes to understanding both the blemishes and triumphs of American history.
“We want kids to grow up understanding both the good and the bad,” Streit explained.
She shared that the resources are free to use if wanted, and encourages parents and teachers to browse their website to see the materials for themselves.
However, one advocate for Muslims in Oklahoma argued PragerU’s content is biased against members of his faith community and others.
“PragerU is definitely skewed towards a certain political, and Christian-nationalistic, white-savior message that is not beneficial for minorities of any background here in Oklahoma,” asserted Adam Soltani, the executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
He added that, “as a Muslim and as a father here in Oklahoma, I would want Ryan Walters to know that he is really playing with the lives and the emotions of people in our state.”
Soltani also argued against the videos’ ability to give a good picture on complex issues, citing one in particular that describes persecution against Egypt’s minority Coptic Christian community.
“They’re five or six-minute videos. And you cannot tell the story of a complex and complicated relationship between two of the major world religions in a country like Egypt, or any other country in the Middle East, or the world, in a five-minute snippet,” he said.
Streit responded to Soltani’s statements. She shared the following with FOX 25:
Cair is an organization that stands against American values. It’s no surprise that they are trying to take PragerU down. Unlike Cair, we do not attack people based on their religion, country of origin, race or gender. We stand for e pluribus unum (from many one): All Americans should be judged by their character and actions. Cair’s obsession with people’s differences is fundamentally anti-American.
The Oklahoma Education Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association, released the following statement regarding the partnership on X.