TULSA — It was another contentious week for Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters.
He unveiled what he called a “public awareness campaign” in the form of a video which immediately drew fire as political propaganda, produced apparently with taxpayer dollars intended for education.
[Hear our KRMG In-Depth Report about the latest developments regarding the state superintendent HERE]
It quotes unnamed, unidentified people making bizarre claims about second graders switching pronouns, or referring to pedophiles as “minor attracted persons,” and linked those to speeches given by union representatives like National Education Association Executive Director Kim Anderson or Vice President Kamala Harris.
At no point, anywhere in the video, was anyone from the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) quoted, nor did the video discuss any education initiatives or plans to improve educational standards or outcomes in Oklahoma.
However, an OEA logo is superimposed over several of the clips showing leaders of the National Education Association speaking.
While the link to the video remained on the state board of education’s Facebook page early Thursday evening, the video (hosted on YouTube) was set to “private” hours earlier.
It was later made public on YouTube. Click HERE to watch it.
In other developments, on Wednesday, the Oklahoma Senate passed an education bill which included a provision which would require that “The State Department of Education shall not decline, refuse participation in, or choose not to apply for any federal grant funding that had been received by the Department prior to FY 2023 without joint approval from the President Pro Tempore of the Oklahoma State Senate and the Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.”
Also Wednesday, Rep. Mark McBride (R-Moore), the House Chair of Appropriations and Budget on Education Committee, told reporters he had information indicating that Walters’s education department had failed to meet the deadline to apply for some $270 million in federal education grants.
Walters spent time during Thursday’s meeting of the state board to call McBride a liar.
“We have a teacher’s union that has intentionally lied about this agency, about our work for the schools of the state. That’s no surprise. But then they found a legislature - a member of the legislature - in Mark McBride that will do anything they tell him to do. So he just parrots their lies. He knows their lies,” Walters stated.
He then took the opportunity to berate reporters, several of whom were in the room.
“You all willingly printed articles with headlines that were lies, and you knew they were lies,” he told them.
“Some of you have intentionally done this to undermine my administration,” he continued, “and frankly when you do that, when you intentionally report lies, what you are doing is you are a true enemy of taxpayers and an enemy of every parent and child in the state of Oklahoma.”
The OEA responded on Twitter:
OEA responds to more dangerous rhetoric from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. #oklaed pic.twitter.com/mU63aYyuL8— OK Education Assoc. (@okea) May 25, 2023