Discover more from Oklahoma Columnist, by Clay Horning
Ryan Walters is too stupid (or crooked) to be our state's superintendent of education
Oklahoma Republicans choose their nominee on Tuesday. One candidate's a total pro, honored by her peers, who wants to deliver for Oklahoma. The other is Ryan Walters.
You know Ryan Walters.
He’s our governor’s education secretary. Technically, perhaps, that makes him our state’s education secretary. Indeed, his official title, requiring capitalization, is Oklahoma Secretary of Education
But it’s all a big farce, because the next time Ryan Walters acts in the educational interests of all Oklahomans will be the first time.
Also a farce, though very real, is the possibility of his becoming state superintendent of education; or, in officialese, Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Education, because the absolute last thing Ryan Walters cares about is public education.
Still, Tuesday, when Oklahoma Republicans must choose between Walters and April Grace, Shawnee schools superintendent since 2016, forget about all that.
Forget many things.
Forget Walters is a living, breathing and perpetual conflict of interest, receiving an annual $120,000 (and terrific benefits, too) as executive director of Every Kid Counts Oklahoma, a non-profit reportedly funded by school privatization and charter school expansion advocates, while simultaneously collecting his state education secretary salary.
Forget that even before Stitt tapped him to be education secretary, Walters had already helped ClassWallet, a Florida company, win a no-bid contract to administer federal funds given the state to defray coronavirus pandemic educational costs. And then while state education secretary, more than 10 percent of audited funds from the program were found to have purchased non-educational material like furniture, appliances and televisions, and another $10 million (of $18 million total) paid for private school vouchers.
You can even forget the state’s now suing ClassWallet and, though it was Walters who delivered ClassWallet to the state, the governor remains devoted to Walters’ pursuit of the state superintendent’s job, so much so it makes you wonder what’s in it for them, you know, beyond destroying public education in Oklahoma.
Forget also that Walters’ education views are utterly abhorrent. Because when you run around telling everybody you’re for school choice, for making taxpayer money available to pay for private school tuition, you’re killing the entire construct of public education.
Yes, private schools are available to families that can afford them, that may offer scholarships or financial aid to them, that live near enough to those institutions to utilize them and that can find the space and acceptance from those schools to attend them. Yet, the idea you can voucher your way into a solution serving everybody when public school students outnumber private school students 19 to 1 is absurd practically, philosophically, intellectually and mathematically.
But forget it.
Forget all of it and focus only on this.
In an Aug. 9 debate, hosted by KOKH, Oklahoma City’s FOX affiliate, the hosts teed it up for both candidates with their first question, asking each to identify the most pressing issue facing public education in the state.
“The biggest issue facing our education system today is left-wing indoctrination in our schools,” Walters said. “What we’ve seen is the far left push issues like critical race theory, transgenderism and an anti-American-type curriculum into our schools that has to be rejected.”
Yes, forget about all that other stuff and, Tuesday, reject Ryan Walters because he’s clearly too stupid to be our state’s superintendent of public education.
Does he know the last Democratic presidential candidate Oklahoma voted for was Lyndon Johnson 58 years ago?
Does he know every single member of Oklahoma’s U.S. House delegation is a Republican and both our U.S. senators are, too?
Does he know Republicans have an 82-18 advantage in the Oklahoma State House and a 39-9 advantage in the Oklahoma State Senate?
Does he know all of that, yet believe Oklahoma teachers have eluded the entire political leadership of this reddest of the red-red states, administering their magic indoctrination potion out of sight of everybody?
As it happens, I’ve traveled through a good bit of the state myself.
Here would be the Oklahoma public high schools that, at one time or another, I covered as part of my sportswriting beat.
Woodward, Mooreland, Seiling, Leedey, Vici, Taloga, Shattuck, Fort Supply, Gage, Fargo, Buffalo, Waynoka, Sharon-Mutual, Ardmore, Plainview, Dickson, Lone Grove, Wilson, Ringling, Healdton, Kingston, Marietta, Madill, Tishomingo, Sulphur, Davis, Fox, Norman High, Norman North, Moore, Westmoore, Southmoore, Noble, Little Axe, Blanchard, Washington, Purcell, Lexington.
From that list, you know which students are not being indoctrinated?
All of them.
You know who the parents at those schools and districts don’t vote for in the majority?
Though I hold out hope for Ardmore and Norman High, my best guess, for all of them, is Democrats.
Finally, you know what the parents of students at all of those high schools love and revere?
Those schools, many of them having gone there themselves.
Ryan Walters has to be dumbest person who ever lived on God’s ever-less green earth, not qualified to hold any job with the possible exception of portraying Niedermeyer, the guy who screams “You’re all worthless and weak, now drop and give me 20” in a stage adaptation of Animal House.
That, or he’s the worst possible person, talking as fast as he can to create non-existent villains out of non-existent issues in service of his own power and pocketbook, in which case, on Tuesday, you might want to remember all those things I told you to forget.
Also, the woman he’s running against for his party’s nomination is an absolute pro, ask anybody, who’s been honored by her peers, who seeks to be there for Oklahoma’s teachers and students, helping them to succeed, not drive them away.
But Ryan Walters?
Dumb or crooked, Oklahoma’s much too good for him.