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As a conservative curriculum business expands into Montana, concerns grow



Billings, Montana – PragerU is educating children about history, civics, and current affairs with a unique perspective. Examples of these classes range from questioning Christopher Columbus about slavery to teaching women how to be more feminine.

Parents’ reactions to the possibility of these Prager University-developed lessons being taught in Montana schools have been divided.

“There’s definitely a political agenda attached to it,” said Clementine Lindley, a Billings mother who has two children in the public school system.

Prager University is not an authorized educational establishment, despite its name.

Right-wing talk show host Dennis Prager started this conservative charity organization.

Montana legislation is more black and white, therefore approval to be a curricular option is not dependent on political inclination.

“We are following the law, making sure that if a company comes to us and they’ve got a business practice and it’s filed with the Secretary of State with a surety bond, I open the gate. I open the gate,” said Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen.

According to Arntzen, curriculum businesses and textbook dealers routinely approach OPI, and in order to receive a one-year license, they must meet state requirements for financial stability and completion of Montana’s educational requirements.

PragerU applied for and was granted a license to operate in Montana in August, becoming the fourth state in the country to do so.

“What enticed me about them is that they fit the mold of social studies, civics, financial literacy as well as being adaptable to any learning model through that virtual platform,” Arntzen said.

“They could go to a rural school, they could be part of a larger school district, they could be part of a digital learning platform in a home school. That doesn’t mean that they will be in our state in a school because the school district is the one that then allows that other gate to open and allow them to be coming in.”

The curriculum will not be imposed on schools automatically; rather, school trustees and individual districts must decide whether to approve the curriculum and provide the required funding.

Lindley is hoping that Billings public schools will not implement this change.

“I think it’s really important that if this is truly going to be an education tool, that whatever is being taught from that system needs to be taught with a counter perspective from a different system,” Lindley said.


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