Oklahoma House Republicans issued a statement rebuking what they call “disparaging” comments from Ryan Walters.
Representatives Baker, McBride and Moore authored a joint statement demanding Walters “focus on the job he was elected to do”.
“It is clear the State Board of Education has no purview over Oklahoma’s system of universities and colleges,” the statement reads. “Even in his capacity as the governor’s appointed secretary of education, Walters has no true authority over the state’s system of higher learning.”
In Thursday’s State Board of Education meeting, Walters claimed he has “great concerns” about Oklahoma’s colleges and universities. He went on to say he questions “whether we should be recommending [students] go into these institutions.”
Walters says he is concerned institutions of higher learning are focusing on what he calls a “woke ideology”. The facts, however, suggest otherwise. Shortly after taking office in January, Walters ordered an extensive review of all state dollars spent on DEI initiatives. That review uncovered roughly 0.1% of state funding for higher-ed is used for such programs.
Walters advances “dangerous” changes to state curriculum
In that same Board of Education meeting, Walters continued pushing an unfounded narrative of indoctrination in schools.
“Our emphasis is to equip students to be ready for the workforce, not be social justice warriors,” Walters said. “This is an agency where woke will go to die.”
“There is nothing more you can do for a child than give them critical thinking skills and give them the opportunity to be successful in the workforce,” he continued.
While critical thinking, by definition, requires “open-mindedness” and “analyzing biases”, Walters’ plan appears to strip that learning opportunity away.
According to The Oklahoman, the State Superintendent and the Board removed the word “diverse” and “culture” along with “references to bias and equity” from state computer science standards. Walters said including words like diverse is “how we get so much of this woke indoctrination” in schools.
Recent latest census data shows nearly one in four Oklahomans identify as Hispanic or a person of color.
Levi Patrick, a member of the committee who spent months drafting the standards, said the move sets “a dangerous precedent”.
Alarmed by Walters’ sweeping efforts to negatively alter education in the state, lawmakers are advancing bills to limit his power.
On Monday, House Republican Mark McBride called Walters’ actions “crazy destruction of public education.”