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PragerU partnership announced, some Arizona educators worried

Tucson+Unified+School+District+is+the+largest+in+Southern+Arizona+and+under+its+jurisdiction+is+Tucson+High+School.+In+light+of+the+new+Prager+University+partnership+with+Superintendent+Tom+Horne%2C+the+curriculum+at+Tucson+High+School+is+up+for+adjustment+dependent+on+its+educators.
Noor Haghighi
Tucson Unified School District is the largest in Southern Arizona and under its jurisdiction is Tucson High School. In light of the new Prager University partnership with Superintendent Tom Horne, the curriculum at Tucson High School is up for adjustment dependent on its educators.

Arizona Superintendent Tom Horne announced a new partnership with Prager University, which raised concerns about the future of Arizona schools’ curriculum. 

PragerU, a conservative nonprofit, often creates educational videos, skits and messages. The partnership would allow Arizona teachers to provide PragerU materials in classes, most notably the 5-minute videos for which PragerU is known. 

Some of these videos include statements that slavery benefited Black people, such as the video “Leo & Layla’s History Adventures with Frederick Douglass,” in which PragerU has Douglass explain that slavery was a compromise between the Founding Fathers and the Southerners, which would in turn benefit America in the long run.

Due to this recent partnership, some people are concerned about how this will affect Arizona schools’ curriculum, specifically subjects such as history, gender and sexuality, all topics on which PragerU has clear-cut opinions.

“As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Prager University Foundation (“PragerU”) offers a free alternative to the dominant left-wing ideology in culture, media, and education,” PragerU defines itself on its website.

As this new partnership emerges, people wonder what the future looks like for Arizona schools. However, as far as Natalie Luna Rose, president of the Tucson Unified School District Governing Board, is concerned, TUSD will not adopt this new partnership.

“This particular board, and our superintendent Dr. [Gabriel] Trujillo would not entertain the idea of PragerU,” Luna Rose said. “It’s not a curriculum that I think would be welcomed, I know it won’t be welcomed into TUSD because we offer a wide variety of different history classes.”

TUSD offers traditional American history and various history classes through its African American, Mexican American and Native American curricula. 

“You know, we focus in on our diverse population, and PragerU’s so-called curriculum does not,” Luna Rose said.

While Luna Rose is confident in her colleagues’ refusal to accept the new PragerU curriculum or ideologies, she is concerned about how it will affect the rest of Arizona’s schools. She shared concerns about how more conservative-leaning districts might be more willing to accept the new curriculum.

“I think it’s worrisome, especially the districts up in Maricopa County. Perhaps those who lean more conservatively are probably something that they would look into,” Luna Rose said.

She also said why this new partnership and potentially slightly new changes to the curriculum could affect students.

“I think what Mr. Horne and his supporters don’t understand is that Black history, Chicano history, Asian American history, Native American history — It’s all American history. And so, I worry about the other districts that don’t see that point of view, and it’s going to be that much poorer for their students academically,” Luna Rose said.

In a neighboring district, Sheryl Castro, executive director of curriculum and assessment at Catalina Foothills School District, also remains confident in CFSD’s ability to provide quality education to students.

“Catalina Foothills School District remains committed to providing students with educational resources that promote critical thinking and academic excellence. While we acknowledge the recent partnership between the Arizona Department of Education and PragerU, our district will continue to prioritize the use of high-quality materials to support student learning and success,” Castro said.

While the partnership between Horne and PragerU may indicate a growing polarization in the United States education system, some local school districts remain confident in providing the same quality education.


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