Tulsa School Board members pushed back on an attack from Oklahoma Secretary of Education Ryan Walters on Friday. Walters, who is trying to become the Republican nominee for State Superintendent, issued a letter attacking DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) training.
Walters’ remarks came after community members called for board members to take diversity, equity and inclusion training. Community members plan to urge the action at Monday’s board meeting, following controversial comments from board members.
Walters responded by calling the requests for training to support students “an attack from the woke liberal mob”.
“Tulsa is a low-performing school district and I am demanding that you stop emphasizing woke policies over student achievement,” Walters wrote, even though school is not currently in session. “Stand up to the left-wing mob and start serving kids,” he said.
Walters’ grievance with DEI training runs counter to the growing effort across state agencies to establish safe and welcoming environments for all employees. In 2021, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services announced all of its employees would undergo DEI training.
Tulsa School Board members respond
Tulsa School Board members issued their own letter responding the Secretary’s attacks.
“You’ve chosen to dedicate your energy to politics,” the response from Board President Woolley and Vice President Croissant read. “We choose to dedicate our energy toward the long-term needs and outcomes of the children of Tulsa.”
In his letter, Walters also “demanded” that the board not to allow meetings “to be dominated by socialist issues”. According to the Secretary, this includes diversity training, even though such training is widely used.
“No.” the Tulsa School Board leaders responded in their letter. “We will not limit attendance at our school board meetings to exclude people with whom you, we, or anyone else disagrees.”
Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent shared both letters on her Facebook page Friday afternoon.
“I stand with the children,” Gist wrote. “All of them.”