Texas education board members express their views on disputed curriculum material

Multiple Texas State Board of Education members are vehemently opposing a divisive curriculum material that has been accused of “whitewashing” history. The controversy ensued after a board member claimed that Texas schools were planning to incorporate online video content produced by the right-wing group PragerU.

SBOE District 13 representative, Aicha Davis, expressed her dismay, stating, “The videos are not only highly offensive but also factually incorrect.” Similarly, SBOE District 4 member, Staci Childs, proclaimed, “If it is up to me, PragerU will have no place in Texas.”

During a press conference on Tuesday, SBOE members, teacher unions, and advocacy groups openly criticized PragerU for its controversial video lessons. Additionally, they targeted another SBOE member, Julie Pickren, for her involvement in a PragerU video, in which she declared, “We are definitely ready to announce that PragerU can make it into Texas now.”

While PragerU was recently included in a list of licensed potential vendors in Texas, the organization has not yet obtained approval to be used in classrooms, nor has it submitted any materials for review.

Childs vehemently denied any claims regarding the board’s endorsement of PragerU, stating firmly, “We have not voted on anything concerning PragerU. These are all lies.”

The situation has left SBOE District 3 member, Marisa Perez-Diaz, disheartened, as she emphasized the confusion created by a fellow board member. She stated, “It’s incredibly disheartening to witness a member stand on their own and release a statement that has bewildered so many people.”

PragerU, a nonprofit organization based in California, specializes in creating educational content that promotes conservative perspectives as an alternative to what they characterize as left-wing ideology. Their website features videos with animated versions of historical figures such as Frederick Douglass and Christopher Columbus. However, these videos have faced criticism for distorting history, downplaying the impact of slavery and the oppression of Native Americans, denying climate change, and endorsing gender conformity.

“The way PragerU has twisted the words of Frederick Douglass, claiming that slavery was a compromise, is appalling. And this is just one example of the negligence and misinformation that this vendor promotes,” said Carisa Lopez of the Texas Freedom Network.

PragerU’s educational cartoons were recently approved by Florida education officials, prompting discussions about their potential integration in Texas. However, before their approval in Texas, PragerU would need to undergo a meticulous vetting process by the Texas Education Agency and then present their materials to the State Board of Education. Currently, neither of these steps has taken place.

SBOE District 1 representative, Melissa Ortega, clarified the board’s stance, stating, “This material has not undergone any form of review process. We do not endorse it, and we will not allow it in Texas.”

FOX 7 Austin reached out to PragerU for comment but had not received a response as of Tuesday, August 29.

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