An announcement that the state of Oklahoma has an “ongoing partnership” with PragerU to provide supplemental materials for history lessons in state schools has caused some officials and groups on the political left to have a social-media meltdown.
But many parents and teachers working on the front lines welcomed the news.
The website for PragerU says it is a nonprofit organization that promotes “American values through the creative use of educational videos that reach millions of people online,” and says its content provides “a free alternative to the dominant left-wing ideology in culture, media, and education. Whether you’re searching for a deeper understanding, a new perspective, or a way to get involved, PragerU helps people of all ages think and live better.”
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters recently announced that the state is partnering with PragerU to make its materials available to teachers, which appears to primarily consist of providing a link to Prager materials on the “social studies” page on the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s website.
Last Monday, the Pennridge School Board, located outside of Philadelphia, imposed a new social studies curriculum that will require teachers to incorporate lessons from the 1776 Curriculum, a controversial K-12 course of study developed by Hillsdale College, a private Christian institution that promotes right-wing ideologies.
The curriculum was developed in part by Jordan Adams, an educational consultant with no experience developing curricula for public schools. Adams launched his company, Vermilion Education, in March 2023. The Pennridge School Board hired Adams in April, paying $125 per hour for his services. The contract includes no limit on the number of hours, no specific deliverables, and no termination date.
Adams holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Hillsdale College and a master’s in humanities from another private conservative school, the University of Dallas. He does not hold any degrees in education. After graduating, Adams returned to Hillsdale College as an employee, where he promoted the 1776 Curriculum. On July 1, in a private presentation to Moms for Liberty, a far-right organization that pushes for changes in educational policy, Adams described himself as a “fox..in the henhouse.” He bragged that “the right people are freaking out” about his contract with Pennridge Schools. As of a few months ago, Adams had no other public school clients.
Although Adams does not have the qualifications to write curriculum, it was revealed during a Pennridge School Board meeting on August 21 that Adams independently wrote aspects of the new social studies curricula.
Adams’ proposed curriculum faced opposition from several members of the Pennridge School Board and the district’s own academic experts. Jenna Vitale, the K-12 social studies supervisor, cited concerns in a recent school board meeting about the “age-appropriateness of the elementary curriculum [developed by Adams], highlighting… the lack of the appropriate history background for incoming fourth and fifth graders and the elimination of 19th century U.S. history from the secondary social studies curriculum.” Vitale also cited concerns about Adams’ proposal to shift the third-grade curriculum from a focus on Native Americans to “Colonial America.”