The New Hampshire State Board of Education has greenlit a financial literacy course created by PragerU, despite concerns raised by educators over the organization’s conservative stance. The move is part of the state’s Learn Everywhere program, aiming to provide students with additional tools to enhance their education.
Ensuring Quality Education
Department of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut, speaking at a press conference following the vote, emphasized the importance of offering the best educational opportunities to all students. “This provides another tool in their toolbox to ensure they receive a quality education,” he stated.
Under the approved program, students can earn partial graduation credits by completing a series of 15 five-minute videos on financial literacy offered by PragerU’s “Cash Course.” To qualify for credit, students must pass a 40-question multiple-choice test, answering at least 36 questions correctly. Successful completion of the program grants students a half credit toward their graduation requirements.
Covering the essentials
The video content covers essential financial topics such as managing loans, taxation, and completing W-2 employment forms. This decision aligns with a recent state law, taking effect this school year, that mandates schools to make financial literacy competency a half-credit graduation requirement. With the approval of the PragerU program, students can fulfill this requirement independently, without classroom instruction.
New Hampshire’s Learn Everywhere program permits public school students to enroll in learning programs offered by companies and nonprofit organizations, with the credits earned from these programs being recognized by school districts. The 5-0 vote reflects the board’s conviction in the program’s educational value.
Nevertheless, the decision did not come without controversy. PragerU, co-founded by conservative commentator Dennis Prager, has faced criticism for producing content, both for children and adults, that espouses right-leaning viewpoints. Some videos have raised skepticism around climate change and the causes of the Civil War, directly criticizing liberalism and the Democratic Party.
In an effort to address concerns, the Cash Course videos for New Hampshire students will be hosted on a separate website from the primary PragerU site. Supporters argue that the financial literacy videos themselves steer clear of political content and will be appropriately separated. However, opponents remain wary, fearing that the approval of the organization could indirectly expose students to more ideological content.
Before the vote, former teachers and members of the public expressed their opinions in a 2½-hour testimony session. Many voiced strong opposition, with concerns ranging from ideological influences to doubts about the effectiveness of the course.
Janet Ward, from Contoocook, argued that even if the videos themselves lack ideology, their approval could serve as “a camel’s nose under the tent” for PragerU’s conservative ideology. Deborah Nelson, a retired high school teacher in Lebanon, contended that the videos and accompanying questionnaire were insufficient to prove students’ proficiency in financial literacy.
Conversely, Pam Brown supported the program and dismissed concerns about ideology. “Let’s provide options for students and a diversity of age-appropriate perspectives, not censorship,” she urged.