AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Board of Education member Aisha Davis is among those who vowed to keep material from the Prager University Foundation, also known as PragerU, out of the state’s public schools.
The controversial, conservative nonprofit creates and distributes what it calls educational videos to schools.
Its website says it “offers a free alternative to the dominant left-wing ideology in culture, media, and education.”
But critics, including Davis, say the videos distort history, including one that defends slavery and suggests it is just a part of life.
“Unfortunately, it would strongly affect their ideas about American history, the things going on. Some very hard topics like slavery. It would give them ideas like it was okay, that it was widely accepted, even from those who were enslaved,” Davis told us on Inside Texas Politics.
And in the days leading up to our conversation with Davis, controversy erupted when a fellow school board member announced in a video with the nonprofit’s CEO that PragerU is now on the approved vendor list in Texas, meaning the videos would be provided to students.
But immediately after that, four board members held a news conference to strongly denounce the decision, saying their fellow board member had gone rogue and the material has not been approved for use.
And Davis and those other board members vow that if a vote does come up, they’ll keep PragerU out of Texas.
Climate change is another topic that’s been at the center of debate recently at the state Board of Education, with members recently discussing whether it should be taught to Texas 8th graders.
In that vote, school board members chose to focus on the carbon cycle instead of climate change.
While the carbon cycle is important for climate stability on Earth, it is only one small part of the broader conversation.
“My colleagues said that they can focus on the carbon cycle instead of knowing about climate change. So, you will have students in Texas public schools that won’t even understand the changes in the environment around them,” said Davis.
Davis did tell us that they’re actively searching for new 8th grade textbooks, and they are looking for versions that might also include some info about climate change.
A final decision on those textbooks is expected soon.