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Oklahoma Superintendent threatens breakup with statewide education organizations

Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters applauds during the 2023 State of the State address.
Whitney Bryen
Oklahoma Watch
Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters applauds during the 2023 State of the State address.

Superintendent Ryan Walters announced Wednesday the State Department of Education is likely ending long-standing relationships with major statewide education organizations.

In a news release, Walters alleged, without providing evidence, the organizations “push an anti-parent, woke agenda,” work in tandem with “national extremist groups” and “force failed policies into schools.”

In the release, Walters names the Oklahoma State School Boards Association (OSSBA), the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration (CCOSA) and the Oklahoma Public School Resource Center (OPSRC). But Walters said the department is also reviewing other organizations he says “have questionable content and practices that don’t align with what is best for Oklahoma’s students.”

OSSBA, CCOSA and OPSRC provide legal assistance, resources and training for member schools’ leadership and personnel.

Walters said these “middleman organizations” often replicate services already provided by the department. Moving forward, he said his department is stepping in to offer similar services to schools as a “one-stop-shop.”

CCOSA said in response to the announcement it wants to continue its partnership with the department, highlighting the 5,400 superintendents, principals, special education directors and other school leaders who attended its professional development events in the last year.

“These resources have been made available to educators in coordination and collaboration with the State Department of Education for the benefit of Oklahoma’s 700,000 public school students,” the statement reads. “As lifelong educators, we continue to encourage Superintendent Walters and leaders at all levels to move beyond politics and prioritize public education with impactful investments and other support for Oklahoma students to succeed.”

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Beth Wallis is StateImpact Oklahoma's education reporter.
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