Is Florida's PragerU deal an indication of issues to return?

Republican governor and presidential aspirant Ron DeSantis has made little secret of his political ambitions to show Florida — and by extension, the entire of the USA — into the place the place, in his phrases “woke goes to die.” DeSantis’ philosophy of aggressive tradition battle provocation has made his state the political floor zero for a broader conservative enterprise to reshape every little thing from public shows of gender id to the character of public schooling throughout the nation. To that finish, right-wing advocacy group and media outlet PragerU introduced final week that Florida had change into “the primary state to formally approve PragerU as an academic vendor.” 

“If you’re a trainer in Florida, you can’t be fired for utilizing PragerU content material,” CEO Marissa Streit mentioned in a quick video trumpeting Florida’s resolution, including that “further states are signing up” to make use of the group’s materials. 

So what does it imply {that a} group with an overt political agenda, and which lacks tutorial accreditation, is now an official useful resource for Florida colleges? Is PragerU actually “simply getting began,” as Streit bragged in her video announcement, or is Florida’s embrace of a bunch accused by the Southern Poverty Regulation Heart as pushing “canine whistles to the acute proper” one other remoted instance of DeSantis’ political posturing? 

What are the commentators saying? 

PragerU’s materials “aligns to Florida’s revised civics and authorities requirements,” a Florida Division of Training spokesperson advised The Day by day Beast, whereas a consultant from PragerU itself mentioned that academics may use the “supplemental curriculum” at their very own discretion. PragerU additionally claimed its supplies come on the behest of academics who “are sick and bored with curriculum laced with radical political agendas.”

The brand new partnership announcement comes within the midst of a bigger controversy over Florida’s revised social research requirements, which embrace classes on American slavery that target how enslaved peoples “developed abilities” that would later be “may very well be utilized for his or her private profit.” Whereas Florida’s Training Division claimed to the Miami New Occasions that PragerU’s content material was not submitted as a part of the brand new curriculum, the paper famous that “the very first part on slavery in Florida’s Black historical past curriculum intently mirrors a PragerU phase by which conservative pundit Candace Owens, who’s Black, reminds viewers that ‘slavery was not invented by white individuals.'”

“It is unclear if conventional PragerU movies — with titles akin to Why I Left the Left and Immigrants! Do not Help What You Fled amongst their hottest—can be permitted to be used in Florida school rooms,” The Day by day Beast famous.

Florida’s new schooling requirements are an “invitation to catastrophe within the classroom” professor and African American historical past creator Marvin Dunn advised the New Occasions. “I simply see this as being extraordinarily chaotic going ahead as a result of Black dad and mom are usually not going to face for this.”

“In Florida, the place Ron DeSantis promised to take away political ideology from school rooms, academics can now present college students PragerU movies like this one, instructing that America was based as a Christian nation and must be once more,” NBC investigative reporter Mike Hixenbaugh tweeted, together with screenshots from PragerU movies. 

That is merely the “newest instance displaying that DeSantis hasn’t eliminated political ideology colleges, however slightly amplified conservative Christian ideologies that he favors,” Hixenbaugh continued

PragerU’s announcement isn’t, in actual fact, the primary affiliation between the conservative group and DeSantis’ administration; late final yr Semafor reported on a newly launched “Florida Customary” conservative web site conspicuously favored by the governor and created by pro-DeSantis donors. As detailed by Media Issues, the Florida Customary’s founder is former PragerU pundit Will Witt, whose time with PragerU was peppered with cases of bigoted conspiracy theorizing.   

What may occur subsequent? 

Whereas PragerU’s inclusion in Florida’s record of accredited instructional distributors is the primary occasion of the group being formally accepted by a state’s governing physique, its content material has reportedly been spreading throughout colleges nationwide for years. A 2021 investigation by The American Prospect decided the group “already [had] over 6,000 educators and fogeys signed up” — a surge fueled partly by the Covid-19 pandemic, with the shift towards distant studying having “exacerbated the pattern of school rooms displaying PragerU’s content material. Lecturers are strained and sometimes in a determined seek for multimedia supplies to maintain children engaged.”

“The purpose of attacking public colleges with the homosexual and trans conspiracy theories was at all times to oppress weak teams,” commentator and creator Jared Yates Sexton said, linking the certification of PragerU to a broader conservative battle over public schooling. “However,” he added, the aim was “additionally to weaken public schooling and create a managed marketplace for ideology-driven curricula producers.” 

To that finish, PragerU has been unambiguous about its agenda to increase its official attain into different public faculty techniques, with one host promising that “PragerU Children is going to extra states quickly” whereas directing followers to signal a petition to that impact on the group’s web site.

With Florida’s distinctive suite of latest instructional requirements backed by the singular push by DeSantis to maneuver his state to the forefront of the conservative tradition wars, it is unclear whether or not PragerU can have comparable success somewhere else anytime quickly. Nonetheless, given the group’s gargantuan recognition and ubiquity already — greater than a billion views on YouTube alone — official state approval might merely be gilding a lily whose roots have gone completely deep already.