Jim Beam column: Brumley likes propaganda videos

Published 6:45 am Saturday, June 1, 2024

Cade Brumley, Louisiana’s state superintendent of education, has endorsed what critics call a right-wing nonprofit — PragerU — that produces “pro-America” content for use in the state’s classrooms. Those same critics call it “conservative propaganda.”

Brumley said the company’s videos align with the state’s new social studies standards, which he calls the “Freedom Framework.”

The Advocate reported that the state Department of Education said teachers are allowed but not required to use those videos.

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In a statement released by PragerU, Brumley said, “Louisiana was the first state to adopt new, rigorous social studies standards that teach students about American exceptionalism and our quest for a more perfect union.”

Britannica defines American exceptionalism as an idea that the United States is a unique and even morally superior country for historical, ideological, or religious reasons.

Indoctrination of students by teachers is why Republicans say they have passed so many bills banning any talk of sexuality in the state’s public schools. The Advocate, for example, has said Gov. Jeff Landry is “a Republican who has claimed without citing evidence that some teachers aim to indoctrinate students with ‘radical’ ideas.”

What Brumley is trying to do is indoctrinate students with extreme conservative views. And Gov. Landry said on X, formerly Twitter, “Thank you to Louisiana’s superintendent for keeping American values in our classrooms.”

In its 2023 annual report, PragerU said its Kids program is serving families, schools, and young Americans with “pro-American content and undoing the damage of leftist teachers unions.”

That report also said the nonprofit is dedicated to “Biblical values, protecting children’s innocence, celebrating America’s exceptional history, civic responsibility, rejecting woke culture, and  defending free speech.”

The Advocate said the company’s videos have faced blowback from historians and educators who say PragerU places conservative values before historical accuracy.

Brumley isn’t the first state education superintendent to come up with a program aimed at indoctrinating students. The late-Shelby Jackson, an elected superintendent, came up with an “Americanism vs. Communism” program in 1961.

Jackson’s recommended textbook for that class was “Race and Reason,” by Carleton Putnam, who was described as “an American businessman and writer who was an advocate for racial segregation.” Putnam actually considered African Americans to be an inferior race and said having them attend schools with white children would do little to improve their intelligence.

American schools were undergoing integration at the time, which was controversial in most Southern states. Jackson actually said integration was going to destroy the public school system.

Jackson purchased 3,000 of Putnam’s books and said “selected mature students in certain schools would profit from the careful reading and study of the book.”

I was a teacher at the all-white Marion High School at the time and I was going to have to teach “Americanism vs. Communism” for six weeks since I was teaching American history.

Knowing about Putnam’s views and his book they gave me, I never opened it. I taught that class but only after doing my own research and coming up with my own information. I think Jackson’s program was a total bust.

We can only hope the same thing happens with Brumley’s ill-advised decision to endorse the PragerU programs. Unfortunately, PragerU in a news release said its partnership with Louisiana’s is “more expansive” than in other states, adding that the state Department of Education approved an “extensive list” of PragerU videos for social studies.

State Rep. Edmond Jordan, D-Baton Rouge, and chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, said, “Louisiana’s children deserve unbiased, fact-based education free of political agendas. Instead, Superintendent Brumley betrayed his responsibilities to help rewrite history in service of right-wing extremists.”

Jacob Newsom, a social studies teacher at St. Amant High School, a public school in Ascension Parish, said he watched several PragerU Kids videos and found them filled with “historical revisionism and slanted perspectives.”

“It’s not anything other than propaganda disguised as educational content,” Newsom said, adding that he won’t use the materials with his studies.

Bless him, and, if we’re lucky, most teachers in this state will see Brumley’s support for the PragerU program for what it really is. It is an attempt to force students to accept the company’s misguided and slanted views of this country’s proud history.

Jim Beam, the retired editor of the American Press, has covered people and politics for more than six decades. Contact him at 337-515-8871 or jim.beam.press@gmail.com.


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