OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – State Superintendent Ryan Walters questioned whether to recommend K-12 kids to attend Oklahoma’s universities because he doubts if they are preparing students for the workforce.
“As we’re continuing to look at what’s the best course for our young people moving out of K-12 institutions, I have great concerns about our state universities. Are they doing the role that is properly necessary for young people? Are they setting up our young people to be successful in the workforce or are they worried about ideology? It gives me great concern and makes me question whether we should be recommending young people go into these universities,” said Walters during Thursday’s State Board of Education meeting.
The superintendent has been vocal against what he considers “woke ideology.”
But the State Superintendent does not oversee the state’s higher education.
After the meeting, House GOP Education leaders responded to Walters.
“It is clear the State Board of Education has no purview over Oklahoma’s system of universities and colleges, which are maintained by The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, a constitutional board,” said Reps. Rhonda Baker, R-Yukon, Mark McBride, R-Moore, and Anthony Moore, R-Clinton, in a part of a statement.
McBride is a guest on Flashpoint this week and had more to say about Walters.
“We’ve got a teacher shortage in the state, and the guy comes on and says something like that, that’s scary,” said the Republican from Moore. “He needs to be doing the job as secretary of public instruction in those meetings and not talking about higher ed.”
On Friday, Governor Stitt held his weekly press conference with the media.
“Yesterday during the State Board of Education meeting, Walters did question whether to recommend students to go to Oklahoma universities. Were you aware of that? And do you support his comment,” I asked the Governor.
“No, I wasn’t aware of that. And I don’t know what the context was, what he’s talking about there. But yes, we believe I want all of our kids, if you want a higher education and you want to become an engineer or a doctor or a lawyer or teacher, and we want you to go into our universities here in Oklahoma,” said Stitt.
During his State of the State address, the Governor challenged OU and OSU to increase their enrollment to 40,000 by 2030.
Chancellor Allison Garrett, who overseas higher education in Oklahoma, announced a plan called Blueprint 2030.
The plan would work to increase enrollment by understanding the cultural changes in Oklahoma and the United States.
“If you look out just a few years, the workforce of the entire U.S. will be majority nonwhite. And we’re seeing that transition in our higher education institutions. We’ve seen that in K through 12,” said Garrett. “And so we need to make sure that the student pipeline is flowing well.”
Governor Stitt did take time to highlight his support for Oklahoma’s universities, even talking about his own experience.
“They’re fantastic universities. I grew up in Norman and and love O.U. And then I went to Oklahoma State for college, got an accounting degree there,” said Stitt. “I would be 100% fine with us educating every single young person at our universities here.”