The material includes videos that downplay racism, trivialize the harms of slavery, and celebrate colonialism.
Scholastic material from PragerU Kids—an offshoot of PragerU, an extreme right-wing non-profit organization—has recently been approved for use in public school classrooms across Florida.
Marketed as “content for your child’s mind to fight the leftist lies,” the series of videos and “How To” instructional materials has been approved by the Florida Department of Education, which announced that it “aligns to Florida’s revised civics and government standards.”
But opponents of the academic standards signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2022 say they accelerate the state’s turn to the extreme right, citing as further evidence, the state’s new Black history standards, which teach that slaves developed skills that “in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”
PragerU was founded in 2011 by conservative radio host Dennis Prager, who has publicly lamented that he is socially constrained from using an anti-Black slur.
The 74-year-old radio talk show host’s video content features prominent conservative figures and pushes anti-immigrant theories, downplays the role of racism in US history and modern society, embraces Christian nationalism, disputes climate change, and expresses doubts about inequalities based on gender, race and sexuality.
Media Matters for America analyzed some of Prager Kids’ videos, and below are some of the lessons that students will be taught in classrooms across the Sunshine State.
Los Angeles: Mateo Backs the Blue is a video that retells the death of George Floyd, which happened in 2020 when a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on the unarmed Black man’s neck and pinned him to the ground, suffocating him to death. In a video of the incident, Floyd can be seen asking for mercy, repeatedly uttering “I can’t breathe.” In the PragerU video, however, Floyd is characterized as a man who resisted arrest.
“Activists claimed that police were targeting the Black community and purposefully killing unarmed Black men,” the narrator of the PragerU video says. “As the false claims of racial targeting spread, so did the anger and violence.”
The revisionist history then goes global in a video titled “Around the World,” which features two schoolchildren discussing Christopher Columbus. The kids are confused by the heated controversy surrounding the Italian admiral.
“The side against Columbus says he was a really mean guy who spread slavery, disease, and violence,” one of the children says. “The side for him says he was a really courageous guy who loved exploring, inspired generations, and spread Christianity and Western civilization to people who really benefited from new ways of thinking and doing things.”
When the two kids magically travel back in time to the fifteenth century to meet Columbus, he assures them that he was justified in his violence against the indigenous people he encountered in the Americas.
“The place I discovered was beautiful, but it wasn’t exactly a paradise of civilization, and the native people were far from peaceful,” he tells them, as he asks to not be judged by 21st century standards.
In another series called “How To,” girls are instructed on the proper ways to conform to society’s expectations of them according to their biological sex.
“Most gender stereotypes exist because they reflect the way that men and women are naturally different,” a female presenter tells the viewers in How to Embrace Your Femininity. “Men and women complement each other and create a well-balanced family and community. So don’t let anybody tell you it’s bad to fit stereotypes,” she continues as the lesson reaches its conclusion: “Be the kind of woman you want your daughters to be, or your sons to marry.”
Other lessons include:
- Poland: Ania’s Energy Crisis: Ania learns about climate change in school. But after her parents share with her their climate denialist views, Ania becomes a denialist herself. When she learns about the Warsaw Uprising, when the city’s Jews fought back against the Nazis, she realizes that fighting against oppression, this time in the form of “climate change,” takes courage.
- India: Priya Overcomes Adversity: The narrator frames India as a backwards land that benefited from the British, and describes India as being “given its independence,” rather than the victor in a struggle to overthrow colonial rule.
- Canada: Marcel Makes a Sacrifice, praises the for-profit US health care system, while warning of the dangers of so-called socialized medicine.
PragerU is not alone in targeting schoolchildren in an attempt to expand their influence across the nation’s classrooms. The Daily Wire, one of the most openly anti-LGBTQ outlets in right-wing media, announced a “$100 million commitment to develop entertainment for kids that parents can trust.”
Despite conservative efforts, Florida teachers and Democratic state lawmakers continue to strongly oppose what they see as Gov. Ron DeSantis’ push to amplify conservative Christian ideologies that he favors across the state and in the classroom.
According to Florida Sen. Shevrin Jones, the new academic standards signed into law by Gov. DeSantis and approved by the Florida Department of Education, “will harm Floridians for years to come.”