OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters sent a letter to select Republican lawmakers Thursday outlining the alleged Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) “involvement in our schools,” before posting about the memo Friday afternoon.
Walters testified at a U.S. House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education meeting Tuesday morning entitled ‘Academic Freedom Under Attack: Loosening the CCP’s Grip on America’s Classrooms.’
“That school district maintains an active connection with the CCP through a program called the Confucius Classrooms,” Supt. Walters told the subcommittee. “We will not allow these tools to be used in American classrooms. We are not communist China. In our classrooms, we will teach true history and we must take an immediate action against hostile countries who attempt to shroud the history and propaganda.”
On Thursday, Walters sent a copy of his testimony to a handful of Oklahoma’s Republican leaders, continuing to highlight what he calls a “disturbing connection” between TPS and the CCP.
“I promised I would protect Oklahoma kids from indoctrination, including when it comes from hostile foreign governments. The communist Chinese government has tried to insert itself into classrooms around the country for years, including here in Oklahoma. There is no excuse for some administrators to attempt to mislead the public because we have the receipts,” Walters said in his post on X, formerly Twitter. “I am asking for legislation that will prohibit school districts from accepting funding from hostile foreign governments, require school districts to gather more financial information on organizations that they partner with, and require school districts to make that information easily accessible on their website.”
In Walters’ testimony, he claims Tulsa Public Schools continued a Confucius Classroom program through IL Texas, a free public charter school with 22 physical campuses in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Cleveland and College Station areas.
However, ILTexas Founder, Eddie Conger, told KFOR on Tuesday they tried working with Booker T. Washington in Tulsa, but it ended up not working out.
“That district has been beaten up. I visited with [TPS] three weeks ago and when that teacher told me… ‘I’m getting verbal threats of physical violence and we’re not going to be able to do this.’ I agreed with her 100%,” said Conger. “I don’t want to put teachers’ lives in danger.”
Cogner sent KFOR a statement Friday to clarify Walters’ accusations:
On Tuesday, a Tulsa Public Schools spokesperson told News 4 the allegations pushed by Supt. Walters are false.
Tulsa Public Schools’ Booker T. Washington High School earned recognition as one of 353 National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2023 – one of only 4 to receive this honor in the state of Oklahoma. This recognition denotes schools that “demonstrate effective and innovative teaching and learning” among other criteria. The designation as an ‘Exemplary High-Performing School’ within the National Blue Ribbon Schools program highlights Tulsa’s Booker T. Washington High School as among Oklahoma’s “highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.”
Students at Booker T. Washington have the benefit of learning world languages from exceptional educators, including those who choose to take Chinese language classes. Some of those students from the recently named National Blue Ribbon School earned awards in the prestigious state and national Chinese Speech Contests. These students work with a dedicated, highly respected educator who engages in supplemental professional development in Chinese language instruction, including past engagement with one of the organization’s mentioned in remarks by Oklahoma’s State Superintendent. This teacher’s salary and adopted instructional resources are fully paid for by Tulsa Public Schools. Contrary to accusations, the district takes no funds from the Chinese government and has no Confucius Classroom programs in its schools.Tulsa Public Schools
This is not the first time Walters has sent a letter to a chosen few Republican lawmakers.
In August, he sent a “confidential report” to “serious decision makers in the state” about several mistakes and alleged wrongdoings while Walters’ predecessor, Joy Hofmeister was in office.