Maumee High School in Maumee County, Ohio, is in the national news after a parent of a 16-year-old student discovered that her daughter had been assigned extra credit in the form of watching right-wing propaganda videos for her 10th-grade history class.
Andrea Cutway, who is a mom to 16-year-old Avery Lewis, learned of the extra credit assignment — requiring students watch videos from Prager University, which is not, in fact, a university but a non-profit founded by conservative talk show host Dennis Prager (who once bemoaned the fact that white people can’t say the N-word) — and then immediately went to the administration with the assignments. Her daughter and other students were supposed to watch videos titled, “Build the Wall,” “Why the Right Was Right,” and “The Left Ruins Everything,” among others.When Cutway went to the administration with her concerns about her daughter watching right-wing propaganda videos without proper instruction — her assignment was apparently to note “important messages” in the propaganda videos — the administration said that her daughter could watch more left-leaning videos alongside the content from PragerU, but didn’t offer this to other students. After Huffington Post learned about PragerU being on the school’s curriculum and reached out to the school, they pulled the programming entirely for every student. PragerU has long been flagged for being an incubation site for right-wing indoctrination, with videos that feature screeds against feminism, denying the effects of climate change, propagating anti-Muslim sentiments, promoting creationism, etc. Although the videos were assigned last year, the news about the Ohio teacher assigning them comes at a time when PragerU has become very public about their push to get their propaganda on syllabuses across the country, with their new program, PREP (PragerU Educators and Parents.) The PREP program, meant for K-12 students, includes assertions like “nearly all the major 19th- and 20th- century breakthroughs in health care were made by Western Europeans and North Americans,” which is untrue. Other study guide materials included “The Ferguson Lie,” and “Conservatives are the Real Environmentalists.” Conservatives generally support cutting regulations, gutting clean water acts, and deregulation of fossil fuel emissions, all of which are known to contribute to climate change and pollution.Conservatives have long decried public schools and higher education as “left-wing indoctrination factories.” Now, they appear to be interested in wading right into explicit indoctrination, promoting an education program from a non-profit that features videos like “There Is No Gender Wage Gap” (there is) and “How to Steal an Election: Mail-In Ballots,” (mail-in ballots are universally found to be a safe, and effective way of voting without rampant fraud). The videos on PragerU are basically reprehensible — and unless they’re being taught to children as a way to catch, avoid, and debunk propaganda — it’s irresponsible to allow their videos, or the PREP program, into American classrooms. For the record, that appears to be Cutway’s concern. She had no concerns about her daughter being able to parse out that she was reading lies and garbage, but her concern was about the hundreds of other students in the school who might not be able to critically read the information they were being assigned by their teachers. Luckily, the Ohio school removed the content from its curriculum, but the PREP program, which has allegedly been employed by thousands of American teachers, threatens to bring right-wing indoctrination under the veer of respectability and high production value into American schools.