PragerU Kids’ Director of Outreach Talks About Wokism in Schools Today and What Parents Can Do to Combat It
Jill Simonian had always been a champion of public education. After all, her grandmother and mother had been public school teachers. Her sister still is a public school teacher. But during the COVID lockdowns she saw a lot of “inappropriate and questionable” things through her kids’ Zoom calls with their teachers. “This was eye-opening, [an] awakening as I call it. … I saw that our school system was pretty much hijacked with a lot of politics and a lot of one-sided narratives that I did not think was appropriate for kids.”
What concerned Jill, now the Director of Outreach for PragerU Kids, was the level of “anti-American sentiment” that she saw on her child’s Zoom call. “I remember there was a discussion that was happening around September 11, and the teacher was very blatantly anti-American. And kids were asking questions, and this teacher really did not give a history lesson about what happened that day. And I don’t think that any teacher ever, no matter what side … should be infusing classroom lessons with their opinion.” Jill believes that teachers should teach the historical significance of events to children in an age-appropriate way and present it in a way that unites Americans, no matter the politics.
More Woke Ideology in Schools
As time went by, Jill began to see papers and worksheets come home with her kids. She explained:
Everything was through a race lens. Everything was through a victim versus an oppressor lens. … Our school district at the time was trying to implement the diversity, equity and inclusion, the DEI, program. They were teaching essentially white guilt, and that everyone in this community who is white should be ashamed of themselves.
I remember going to school board meetings with a group of like-minded parents saying, ‘[T]his is not right. We are created equal under God. We realize that we are not a religious school. But at the same time, equality of opportunity is a value that we should be promoting rather than equity, rather than vilifying people for their hard work or for something they did not do in the past or that their relative did or did not do.’
‘How Did We Get Here?’
A lot of parents are blindsided by this woke ideology in schools now. “[W]e continue to ask this question of, ‘How did we get here? And why is this happening?’ … America’s not perfect. We don’t want to leave that out, but we want to teach it through an objective, historical lens. So, I really tried to figure out why our school has abandoned these things, and it’s really happened over decades.”
Homeschooling parents should be credited. “[T]hey saw the writing on the wall when many of us did not. And they saw the academics and the values were being little by little taken out of the lessons at school.”
Now it’s all coming to light. “I think parents are now scrambling with, first of all, ‘How do I educate my child and protect them from these things that want to corrupt them and confuse them and also destroy their innocence?’ But the deeper layer to that is, ‘How do we save this system of educating our children with knowledge so that … we have a future for our country?'”
What Parents Can Do
So, what can parents do?
Attend Board Meetings
Parents should attend the school board meetings. “[G]oing to school board meetings, quite frankly, is the primary way to stay visible. … [J]ust go to those school board meetings and continue speaking up.”
Opt Out of SEL Surveys
Parents can also “opt out” of the Social Emotional Learning (SEL) surveys administered several times per year. “These social emotional learning initiatives sound really great because they’re pegged as being positive ways to ensure that kids are ready to learn inside the classroom. They’re pegged as ways to open up communication so that students feel supported and safe and all these things.”
In reality, the SEL surveys are about very sensitive topics with very invasive questions about their home life. The surveys, which are administered to students without parental consent, are more than 100 questions long and take 30-45 minutes of school time that could be put to better use. Jill said parents don’t know about these surveys because when they enroll their children in public school there is an automatic “opt in.”
“And in order to be informed about what’s on these surveys, you have to request to view the material … on your own volition and then you have to specifically request to opt out.” A real concern about the surveys is where the data goes. “[O]utside agencies are creating these surveys, delivering them to minors through the school system without parental consent. We don’t know where this data is going. And what it’s being used for. And that’s dangerous.”
Donate Good Books to School Libraries
In addition to fighting vulgar books in schools’ libraries, parents should donate good books. “Maybe instead of us complaining, we donate [classic] books back in. Start “donating books with values and valuable historical insight and perspective.” PragerU Kids offers sound books on values as well as videos to help parents teach kids historical facts they are not getting at schools.
File FOIA Requests
In order to look at classroom materials as well as any relevant emails about the programs offered at public schools, parents can file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. “If you suspect that there is communication going on between teachers [and] administrators bringing in certain curriculums, if you want to know what types of teacher trainings or teachers’ manuals or materials or different contracts with vendors that are, what type of business is happening at your school behind the scenes that is ultimately being delivered to your children, you can file a FOIA request to get this information that we as parents have a right to know about and we have a right that’s protected by law to make decisions about our children’s education.”
Parents Can Take Positive Control Over Their Kids’ Education
PragerU Kids’ main goal is to “really empower parents to take positive control over their kids’ education, [to] teach them knowledge at home. And our purpose at PragerU Kids is to give all of us parents the tools to be able to do that, because sometimes we don’t know where to start. So if you go to pragerukids.com and you subscribe, it’s all free. The lessons, the videos, the resources will show up in your inbox every week and just give guideposts and benchmarks for things we can share with our children and talk about for teaching them knowledge to fill in where our schools are lacking.”