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Advocacy group to investigate Oklahoma Department of Education partnership with PragerU

PragerU's 'Leo & Layla Meet Christopher Columbus"
PragerU's 'Leo & Layla Meet Christopher Columbus"

A national advocacy organization is turning its sights to Oklahoma’s partnership with conservative media nonprofit PragerU.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State announced Thursday it’s launching an investigation into how Florida and Oklahoma plan to implement PragerU materials in public schools.

Despite its name, PragerU is not a university or academic institution, and it cannot confer degrees or diplomas. It was created in part by conservative radio talk show host Dennis Prager. PragerU Kids is a series of videos and materials aimed at elementary students.

PragerU says on its website its mission is to counter “the dominant left-wing ideology in culture, media and education.”

This is the second major action AU has taken regarding Oklahoma education issues — it’s also the driving force behind a lawsuit filed against St. Isidore of Seville Virtual Catholic Charter School, which would be the nation’s first publicly funded religious school and is currently moving its way through Oklahoma’s approval process.

Last month, State Superintendent Ryan Walters announced an ongoing partnership with PragerU Kids. PragerU video links populate the state department’s social studies curriculum webpage, and Walters said the department is collaborating with PragerU Kids to create Oklahoma-specific educational materials.

Large schools around the state have responded they will not be adopting the curriculum.

AU President and CEO Rachel Laser said in a press release the investigation was to counteract a “shadow network of Christian Nationalists and their political allies.”

“We owe it to our children to ensure their public schools provide a high-quality education that is free from religious coercion and rooted in facts, not theology or political ideology,” Laser said. “Christian Nationalists are trying to use the machinery of the state to impose their religious beliefs on all of our children — and to get taxpayers to fund this. Not on our watch.”

You can read and listen to more about Oklahoma’s partnership with PragerU here.

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Beth Wallis is StateImpact Oklahoma's education reporter.
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