What happens when a high school offers a conservative video for extra credit

Special to WorldTribune, November 3, 2020

dennis_pragerDennis Prager

As far as HuffPost and the rest of the American left are concerned, no non-left-wing idea should be allowed to enter an American school. Not even for five minutes.

This past month, Maumee High School, a high school near Toledo, Ohio, offered its students a way to receive some extracurricular credit. In the words of the Maumee City Schools administration office — released before the HuffPost-induced uproar:

A mother objected to a PragerU video being offered as a conservative option for an extra credit assignment in her high school daughter’s class.

“Students were offered an extra credit assignment intended to challenge their critical thinking skills … A second option in the extra credit assignment asked students to view a video from a conservative website, analyze it and explain what they may have learned from it, and how it may have challenged or supported their own beliefs. …

“We believe that students deserve a balanced presentation of materials and we support our educators in using a variety of instructional tools and materials in their teaching, expecting them to always exercise good judgement.”

In an open and liberal society, the stated aims of Maumee High School are not only not controversial, but also laudable. They are exactly what good parents and educators would want for students.

So, who finds these aims revolting?

Only an anti-liberal ideology. Namely, the left.

It all started with one — yes, one — parent. She so objected to a PragerU video being offered as a conservative option that she withdrew her child from the class. And then she contacted HuffPost.

Thus began a national left-wing uproar over students being offered extra credit if they chose to view a five-minute conservative video.

The HuffPost headline: “Videos From Right-Wing Site That Preaches ‘The Left Ruins Everything’ Assigned In Ohio School.”

A few observations about the headline:

First, on the left, everything non-left is “right-wing.” The reason? Because “conservative” is not inflammatory enough.

Second, the video “The Left Ruins Everything” was never “assigned.” No specific video was assigned.

Third, the HuffPost writer, Rebecca Klein, chose the most controversial title she could find out of approximately 450 PragerU videos.

Fourth, the video makes clear that it is about leftism, not liberalism.

Fifth, ironically, this whole story validates the video: Look at what the left is doing to schools, to liberal education, and to open inquiry.

As the HuffPost itself reported:

Andrea Cutway, the mother of 16-year-old student Avery Lewis, brought the assignment to the attention of Maumee City Schools administrators and immediately pulled her daughter out of the class. … Lewis was immediately alarmed when she started her extra credit assignment last week. The assignment asked her to watch PragerU videos and then answer questions about how the videos challenged her beliefs. … Cutway, Lewis’ mother, was similarly shocked when her daughter showed her the assignment. … ‘It’s ALT RIGHT propaganda,’ Cutway said in the email to the school principal.

Lewis met with school administrators soon after to discuss the issue. Together, they came up with a solution—that the student could also include viewpoints from the opposite side, Cutway said.

For Cutway, though, this ignored the larger issue—that PragerU videos be assigned at all and that school administrators did not see a problem (emphasis added) …

‘When I talked to the principal and vice principal, they acted like this was just another assignment,’ said Cutway, who works as a juvenile parole officer for the state. … ‘This really is some scary stuff,’ Cutway said of PragerU. ‘I do feel like they have found a way to get into the public school system.’

As a result of the HuffPost article, mainstream media went nuts, contemplating the possibility that American students might watch five minutes of non-left thought.

NBC TV in Toledo tweeted: “HuffPost reports that a Maumee High School class is offering students extra credit for viewing videos from a right-wing source. Are you a Maumee parent? How would you feel about this?”

ABC TV in Toledo headlined: “Maumee parent raises concerns over controversial assignment.”

And the station broadcast a report on “Maumee High School alumni petition politics in the classroom” about more than 200 alumni objecting to the use of any PragerU video.

The broadcast featured a 2001 graduate of the school, Catherine Wood, the organizer of the petition, who told the ABC TV station, PragerU videos “kind of deny the humanity of many groups of students: people of color, women, LGBTQ members.”

Wood lied. There is nothing in any PragerU video that demeans or in any way “denies the humanity” of people of color, women, or LGBTQ members. Not to mention that we have women, people of color, and gays presenting videos. Her libel exemplifies something I have said all my life: Truth is not a left-wing value.

But left-wing lies often work. Within days, the inevitable took place. As The Toledo Blade headlined: “Maumee Removes Conservative Content From Class Syllabus.”

For the record, here is a small sample of PragerU presenters:

Four Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists.

Three former prime ministers—of Denmark, Spain, and Canada.

Professors at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, Vanderbilt, and many other universities.

The late Charles Krauthammer.

At least four “Never Trumpers” (George Will, Bret Stephens, Jonah Goldberg, and Michael Medved).

Liberal Democrat Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz.

Jewish historian Rabbi Joseph Telushkin.

Wall Street Journal columnists Kimberley Strassel and Jason Riley.

Economists Lee Ohanian (University of California, Los Angeles) and Walter Williams (George Mason University).

British historians Paul Johnson, Andrew Roberts, and Niall Ferguson.

Mike Rowe of “Dirty Jobs” fame.

Philip Hamburger, the Maurice and Hilda Friedman professor of law at Columbia Law School.

Peter Caddick-Adams, fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Five-time Emmy award-winning journalist Sharyl Attkisson.

Dr. Stephen Marmer, psychiatrist and clinical faculty at UCLA Medical School.

Would any of these people join PragerU if it were a “right-wing, ALT-RIGHT demeaner of people of color, women, and LGBTQ”? (Incidentally, PragerU has a video titled “What Is the Alt-Right.” Those of the left accusing PragerU of “alt-right propaganda” would do well to watch it.)

Moreover, PragerU has videos on happiness, forgiveness, the ethics of speech, the Ten Commandments, anger management, and raising good children, among many others that have nothing to do with politics.

But none of this matters to HuffPost or to the 200 alumni of Maumee High School.

All that matters to them is that an effective, responsible, thoughtful conservative voice never be heard at Maumee or any other high school.

Probably a thousand teachers have shown PragerU videos, and many more are refusing to be intimidated by the bullies of the left.

Leftists fear that five minutes of conservative thought will undo four years of left-wing teaching.

Their fear is justified. Their opposition isn’t.

Dennis Prager is a columnist for WorldTribune.com. He is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His second volume of Bible commentary, “The Rational Bible — Genesis: God, Creation, Destruction,” is published by Regnery. He is the founder of PragerUniversity.com and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.