Reactions To Approving PragerU’s Financial Literacy Course Split Along Party Lines

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Executive Director, the Rev. Heidi Carrington Heath of the NH Council of Churches is pictured at a news conference about the state Board of Education voting on PragerU's financial literacy course Thursday. (Screenshot)

CONCORD – The state Board of Education vote to approve controversial PragerU’s financial literacy course caused quick reaction in a flurry of news releases Thursday with Democrats opposed and Republicans in favor.

House Majority Leader Jason Osborne, R-Auburn, said: “Democrats will stop at nothing to ensure we strip families of every educational option available to them outside of the standard public school. The same people who want children indoctrinated in radical gender ideology without parents’ approval or knowledge cannot abide parents and students having even an option to learn anything taught by a Republican.

“Families should have options on where to send their children to school and be given options for classes in order to fulfill requirements, allowing students to meet their full potential on their terms. The New Hampshire Board of Education’s approval of the PragerU financial literacy courses are another tool in the tool box for Granite State students and families,” Osborne said.

Democrat Joyce Craig of Manchester, Mayor and gubernatorial candidate, called it a “controversial conservative” education program with New Hampshire now joining Florida in allowing PragerU to operate in the public education system.

“I will fight for every child in our state to receive a quality education and I will never allow an extreme right-wing organization to influence their learning. 

PragerU was founded by far-right extremists and indoctrinates students with hatred towards LGBTQ+ students, horrific views on slavery, and anti-climate change conspiracies. They have no place in New Hampshire’s public education system,” Craig said.

Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington, D-Concord, who is also seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, had asked Attorney General John Formella to investigate whether PragerU violated state law because it is not a university. Formella declined.

“This approval disregards the potential harm that PragerU’s extreme content will inflict upon our schools and the education of our children,” Warmington said after the vote. “The Board’s decision also sets a troubling precedent by endorsing an organization with a misleading name that suggests it is a legitimate educational institution. This approval only further blurs the lines between credible education and partisan ideology, and it is part of a broader effort by Commissioner Edelblut to undermine public education.”

House Democratic Leader Matt Wilhelm, D-Manchester, said he, too, was disappointed by the vote.

“Unlike other organizations approved through Learn Everywhere, which focuses on developing 21st-century and work-based skills, PragerU’s entire agenda is to advance the draconian political worldview of its founder, a right-wing talk radio host.

“Commissioner Edelblut has unnecessarily politicized the work of the State Board of Education.  At today’s Board meeting, multiple members expressed support for including PragerU content in public schools specifically because the organization pushes a ‘conservative’ worldview,” Wilhelm said.

Education Commissioner Edelblut said in a news release: “PragerU’s Cash Course Certificate program will provide youth with the basic knowledge of how to create a budget, invest wisely, understand pay stubs and taxes, reduce overall expenses and manage debt, including student debt – all vital skills needed into adulthood.

“New Hampshire understands the importance of financial literacy, and this is one more option that high school students and families can choose if they want, to take advantage of as part of the many educational choices available to them,” Edelblut said.

Marissa Streit, PragerU CEO, said: “We’re excited about the New Hampshire Learn Everywhere initiative and we’re honored to be able to serve the community with our financial literacy content line as a starting point for an even greater partnership.”

Public education advocates released the following statements:

Sarah Robinson, Education Justice Director with Granite State Progress said: “It’s a bleak day for public school students when an organization that creates dishonest videos minimizing slavery is awarded a stamp of approval by New Hampshire’s State Board of Education. Quite to the contrary of statements made by State Board of Education members, approval of PragerU is not a simple ‘choice’ for parents to make. All of our comments about how PragerU subjects viewers to a dangerous algorithm that introduces them to a rabbithole of right-wing content went completely ignored. When the State Board of Education voted to roll out the welcome mat for PragerU, they set a dangerous precedent for more harmful materials by PragerU to be potentially approved, including PragerU content minimizing slavery and anti-transgender fearmongering.” 

James McKim, President of NAACP: “Today’s vote by the NH State Board of Education to allow high school students to earn credit by consuming a video created by PragerU, a non-New Hampshire organization whose mission is to spread misinformation about equity and justice, is extremely offensive to the people of color in this state. The fact that the state would join forces with and lend its name to an organization that prides itself on publishing falsehoods about what African Americans have experienced… is yet another example of how the government of our state does not desire to provide a welcoming environment for all people. This vote sets a dangerous precedent that lowers standards of education for all students. And it opens the door for other businesses whose values are diametrically opposed with those of the majority of the state.”

Deb Howes, President AFT-NH: “The appointed State Board of Education should set high academic expectations for all Granite State public school students. It should demand that all courses seeking approval for public high school credit be academically rigorous and the materials be of the highest quality without introducing any political bias into our public schools. They failed today and cheapened the education of every Granite State student in the process.”

Megan Tuttle, President NEA-NH: “Our school districts will now be required to grant credit toward graduation for a student who completes this substandard online course. What makes matters worse is that we are putting our seal of approval on a media company whose self-stated goal is ideological, not academic. Exposing our students to this type of online organization is a disservice to them and their parents.”

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