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E’Lena Ashley, a Tulsa Public School board member, is rallying her followers to defend State Superintendent Ryan Walters from “attack”.
In a post shared on Facebook, Tulsa Public Schools board member E’Lena Ashley calls on her followers to show up to the State School Board meeting on March 23. She urges people to protect State Superintendent Ryan Walters, whom she says is “under attack”.
“Ryan Walters is under attack… The left is trying to do to Ryan what they did to Trump,” Ashley’s post reads. “Are we going to stand by and let them do it?”
Walters faces backlash from both parties for continued divisive rhetoric.
Walters won the Oklahoma State Superintendent position after running a campaign filled with divisive rhetoric, constantly referencing the “woke liberal agenda”. The State Superintendent continues these same political talking points, instead of focusing on solutions to issues in education.
Democrats and Republicans are expressing growing frustration over Walters’ focus on divisiveness.
In February, Republican members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives issued a statement rebuking Walters. The lawmakers pushed back on “disparaging” comments Walters made about higher education in the state.
“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 a February 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 uses unfounded claims of indoctrination in schools to push new policies
Walters often pushes an unfounded narrative of indoctrination in Oklahoma public schools. Ashley has repeated similar rhetoric in online and in local Tulsa School Board meetings.
One such unfounded narrative is Walters’ claim that pornography is widely accessible to children in school libraries. Recently, Walters introduced a rule that would allow him to more easily penalize school districts if a library contains any material the state board deems to be “sexualized content”.
Fox 25 journalist Payton May reports that under the proposed rule, “a district’s accreditation status could be changed by having books the [State Department of Education] finds “pornographic” or containing “sexualized content”.
According to May, the rule requires districts to report an annual list of books and materials in the library. It would be the responsibility of library staff to keep and maintain that list.
While the rule outlines definitions of “pornographic” and “sexualized content”, it’s Walters’ state board that would make the final determination.
Growing chorus of voices calls for Ryan Walters’ to end his “disparaging rhetoric”
The political talking points from Walters have gotten so bad that one of Oklahoma’s biggest media outlets is speaking out. The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City’s largest newspaper, issued an editorial calling on Walters to end his “disparaging rhetoric or resign”.
“His incessant video tweets are filled with offensive racist implications. He apparently believes we, the people of Oklahoma, have given him the authority to be unabashedly racist in his dog-whistling pronouncements,” the editorial reads.
In his latest tweet, Walters posted a picture of a White student washing her hands in a girl’s bathroom with two students of color looking on. Above the young girls is the title “I will always fight for students. Student safety over liberal agenda.”
Walters provided no explanation of what the picture is supposed to represent. However, many on Twitter remarked the image felt reminiscent of pro-segregation propaganda.
Today, members of the public, including educators, parents and students, spoke to the state board of education urging a pause on Walters’ policy push.
Still, TPS Board Member Ashley is urging support for Walters.
Editor’s note: We at The Black Wall Street Times are calling for those who support our teachers and students from these constant divisive attacks to show up at the State School Board meeting and stand in solidarity for Oklahoma public education.