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Oklahoma Secretary of Education Ryan Walters is calling for an Oklahoma teacher’s credentials to be revoked after she provided information for students about the Brooklyn Public Library.
In his public missive, Walters erroneously stated that the teacher, Summer Boismier, had been fired from her position in Norman, Oklahoma. The truth is, Boismier resigned after she was investigated following a parent complaint.
Boismier’s alleged crime was providing a QR code with a link to join the Brooklyn Public Library in New York. The Brooklyn Public Library has a program called “Books Unbanned,” which offers access to their online library for anyone between the ages of 13 and 21.
For simply providing the online link, Boismier was admonished by Norman Public Schools administrators. Leadership referred to the incident as Boismier “making personal, political statements during class time and using (her) classroom to make a political display expressing those opinions.”
Banning books, threatening teachers in the land of the free
In 2021, Oklahoma passed HB 1775, limiting how teachers taught such topics as history, English, geography, and social studies. Teachers may not present materials in a way that teaches students to feel “discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress” because of their race or gender.
After receiving public censure, Boismier resigned from her position rather than return to the classroom.
Meanwhile, Walters’ political theatre has made headlines across the country. He sensationalized the story on his social media, stating, “Sexualizing our classrooms will not be tolerated.”
Walters also came for Joy Hofmeister, the Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Education. Hofmeister is currently running for Governor of Oklahoma against right-wing incumbent Kevin Stitt.
The backlash from teachers and others against Walters’ announcement has been swift and widespread. “Fascism” has been used often to describe Walters’ letter, as well as “un-American.”
Meanwhile Boismier, a teacher who believes she did the right thing for her students, is not planning to leave education. “That’s a message that I’d like to send to the folks at the top of the food chain in state leadership,” she said in an interview with CNN and The Washington Post. “I’m not going anywhere.”