OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Diversity, Equity, Inclusion training has been used as a political buzz phrase recently, even though the idea is used widely from schools to businesses.
During Monday’s State of the State address, Governor Kevin Stitt talked about the need to fill the gaps in Oklahoma’s “in-demand” career fields.
“Let’s make sure our universities and higher education are partnering with companies to train the workforce of tomorrow,” said Stitt. “We need our universities to meet the nursing needs of our hospitals, the engineering needs of our growing aerospace industry, the teaching needs of our secondary schools, the software developer needs for tech companies.”
The governor said schools need to focus more on education.
“I want our universities to have less DEI offices and more career placement counselors,” said Stitt.
But it’s not just education.
Even the Governor’s own company, Gateway Banking and Mortgage, promotes diversity and inclusion on their website.
Speaking out against DEI is a point Ryan Walters, Education Secretary and State Superintendent, made recently from the front seat of his car.
In a video, he said DEI tells folks there is shame in the color of their skin.
Walters recently asked for a 10 year report on DEI spending from colleges and universities in Oklahoma.
The report came back to highlight less than 1 percent of the entire education budget was spent on such programs and trainings.
According to the Chancellor at the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, DEI training is a requirement for the fields “in-demand.”
The letter from Chancellor Allison Garrett to Ryan Walters stated that nursing, engineering, education, and business degree programs receive accreditation that requires DEI training.
She said it, “facilitates student engagement.”
In simple terms, it draws in students who are under-represented in higher ed. It’s not just minority student, but also veterans, teens aging out of foster care, adult learning, and disabled Oklahomans. It is not about shaming someone for their skin color.
“It is important to note that there are certain laws that require diversity, equity, and inclusion practices, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act,” said Garrett, in the letter.
Representative Trish Ranson, Democrat from Stillwater, calls DEI training critical for Oklahoma State University to graduate the very students Governor Stitt focused on in his State of the State address.
“I worry about the villainizing of the concept of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” said Ranson. “It’s almost got that CRT type of boogeyman type of feel to it.”