OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A new slate of members on the Oklahoma State Board of Education is causing backlash because of their lack of experience with public schools.
The new members include:
- Donald Burdick, who will replace Carlisha Bradley
- Marla Hill, who will replace Trent Smith’s old position
- Kendra Wesson, who will replace Brian Bobeck
- Suzanne Reynolds, who will be the new at-large position
Burdick is the CEO of Olifant Energy II.
Hill is a homeschool teacher to her five children.
Wesson is the owner of Operation Accounting in Norman. She also recently resigned from Le Monde International School Board.
Reynolds is a licensed pharmacist. The Governor’s office said she served in positions with universities in Oklahoma.
Trent Smith and Sarah Lapek are the two members that have stayed on.
State Superintendent Ryan Walters is now the only member with a background in public school education.
Walters was a teacher for eight years in his hometown, at McAlester High School.
“This is a fantastic board of education that the governor has appointed, and I look forward to working with them,” said Walters.
The most recent edition of the Oklahoma Board of Education had two former public schools teachers: former State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister and Carlisha Bradley.
The new superintendent views the backgrounds of the new appointees as a positive way to improve the state’s educational ranking.
“Everybody has their unique perspective on education,” said Walters. “We need to bring them all in together and find this path forward so that Oklahoma can be a leader.”
Critics have pointed out that Walters, even though a public-school teacher, has pushed for vouchers.
Vouchers allow parents to use tax dollars to send their kids to private schools of their choice.
The general argument from opponents of vouchers is that public school funding will slowly dry up, leaving schools, especially rural schools, in poor shape.
Oklahoma Parent Legislative Action Committee, or OKPLAC, released a statement claiming that the new appointees were not qualified.
“Public school parents statewide are deeply concerned at Governor Stitt’s new appointments to the Oklahoma State Board of Education,” said Erin Brewer, OKPLAC Vice Chair, in a statement. “His nominations reveal the low regard he holds for public education.”
OKPLAC is a group that represents thousands of Oklahoma public school students and their parents.
The group calls on Governor Stitt to rescind his appointments and the Oklahoma Senate to only approve “qualified, experienced individuals who value public schools.”
“Public school parents expect our elected officials to place respected, experienced professionals who value public education on a board that has such influence over our children,” continued Brewer.
Appointees need to be approved by the Senate before they are sworn in.
The next scheduled board meeting is set for January 26th.