Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne has continued his ascent into the Orwellian stratosphere of Alt-Right Knowledge with his announcement on January 31, 2024, that he would make the resources of unaccredited and right-wing leaning Prager University available for public school teachers to show children in their classrooms on the Department website with other resource options.
On social media, the Superintendent posted this to explain his action:
The Superintendent’s reasoning is also so instructors can present the right-wing counterarguments to the alleged widespread left-wing “woke” and “critical race theory” ones being broadcast in Arizona’s public schools.
At a press conference, Mr. Horne stated:
“It’s alright for teachers to teach controversial views as long as both sides are presented, and the problem we’ve had is in some classes, only the extreme left side has been presented, so these present an alternative.”
However, within moments after the Superintendent made this move, the voices from the Democratic side of the education debate made their views known.
Marisol Garcia, the President of the Arizona Educators Association, issued a statement that read:
“There’s a reason Superintendent Horne has been called the worst school official in America. He’s always looking for ways to use Arizona’s public schools to push a far-right political agenda, and today’s announcement is just the latest example.
PragerU’s hyper-partisan and substandard materials have no place in our schools, and educators know that, as do the local school board members who make decisions about curricula.
Superintendent Horne’s announcement won’t change much for Arizona’s students and teachers. But it will generate a round of headlines for him–which was, of course, the entire point.”
Representative Raul Grijalva, as reported by AZ Central, partially commented:
“PragerU does not belong in Arizona schools. It’s masquerading as a serious educational resource when in reality it’s unaccredited right-wing propaganda. Just as Congressional Republicans want to ban books and eliminate diverse points of view, PragerU’s intent is to indoctrinate our children with disinformation, mistruths, and whitewash history.”
Educator and Legislative District (LD) Four State Senator Christine Marsh posted:
Sunnyslope School Board Member/President and Legislative District (LD 21) State Representative Consuelo Hernandez stated:
“As a school board member and legislator, I am deeply concerned by the decision by our Superintendent of Public Instruction to bring in Prager University to our school system. Our K-12 students deserve better than revisionist history.
Looking at some of the History video resources on the Prager University site, it is not hard to see where the A.E.A. President Garcia, Representative Hernandez, Senator Marsh, and Representative Grijalva are coming from.
In other words, buyer beware.
- Simplistic and full of informational omissions. While entertaining and containing some accurate information, these videos omit a lot of relevant historical detail. The Holocaust video, for example, forgets to mention the other six million people killed in the Final Solution and fails to accurately describe the history of anti-Semitism around the world that led to the horror of World War Two. In the Russian Revolution video, the producers make it seem there was Tsar Nicholas and then Lenin. They omit the Democratic-Republic Provisional Government period.
- Slanted toward biblical credit and the medieval Magna Carta for inspiring the Revolutionary War thinkers. The video forgets to mention the influence of the Renaissance/Enlightenment Era that educated Colonial American thinkers like Franklin, Paine, and Jefferson. Furthermore, the video totally fails to mention the French and Indian/Seven Years War on the American Continent that caused the British Government to start to raise taxes to cover the conflict’s expense.
The resources at Prager seem to serve one overriding purpose: to steer selected facts to educate children to embrace their right-wing worldview perceptions.
It is not a well-rounded and all-inclusive approach.
If teachers want to use educational resource materials that are largely accurate and contain a treasure trove of factual information that contains multiple perspectives, they would be better served to access the video libraries of PBS (like Ken Burns The Civil War or the Empire series,) the early History Channel products (the resources before they started to show Ancient Aliens and Pawn Stars) and the initial Discovery Channel documentaries (before they went crazy with programming like Street Outlaws and Moonshiners)
Students would get better knowledge and become better, well-rounded, and well-informed citizens from those materials rather than what the right-wing propaganda-leaning Prager University is offering.