This article was originally delivered to subscribers of our Education Watch newsletter. Sign up now to receive Education Watch directly in your inbox.
The State Board of Education last month approved Superintendent Ryan Walters’ move for emergency rules that prohibit any school district from altering a student’s gender on their school records without the state board’s approval. Even with a court order.
The board will consider two such requests — from Cushing and Moore schools — at its regular meeting Thursday, according to an agenda.
Walters in September said Moore Public Schools asked the department for guidance after a judge approved student’s name and gender change and ordered records to be updated accordingly.
Walters urged the board to take action to oppose the “radical, woke, activist judge.” But the judges just affirmed the parents’ decision. In both cases, the parents petitioned for the legal changes after their child was diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
After last month’s meeting, I asked Walters how his rules square with situations like these, when parents want the records changed.
“You can’t change truth, you can’t change reality,” Walters said. “So if it says you’re a gender, that’s the gender that you are. You can’t go back and change a birth certificate, so we’ve got to stand for truth and reality in society and that’s what I’m going to continue to fight for in our schools.” Oklahoma law does allow birth certificates to be amended with a court order.
Gov. Kevin Stitt recently appointed two new members to the Board of Education. They are Zach Archer, a managing director at Great Plains Investment Services and member of the Hammon Public Schools board, and Alex Gray, a managing partner at American Global Strategies consulting firm, according to the governor’s office.
Gray was a senior policy advisor to former President Donald Trump. Last year he ran for the U.S. Senate seat held by Markwayne Mullin but received less than 1 percent of votes in the Republican primary.
Questions, comments, story ideas? Reach out by email or direct message. Also, don’t miss my recent interviews with KOSU about GEER 2 funding and with OETA about the state’s contract for a Catholic online charter school.
— Jennifer Palmer
- Textbook publishers withdraw from Oklahoma amid polarizing fight over content. A state committee is expected to vote on math materials next month. [Oklahoma Voice]
- Schools nationwide could layoff over 100,000 teachers as COVID-19 funds run out. [The 74]
- Scholastic backtracked its decision to segregate book titles with race and LGBTQ+ themes for elementary school book fairs. [The Washington Post]
New on Oklahoma Watch
Oklahoma’s attorney general on Friday sued to stop the nation’s first publicly-funded religious charter school.
Oklahoma donors have contributed $617,656 to former president Donald Trump’s campaign, more than three times the amount of any other candidate.
Six projects were funded with Gov. Kevin Stitt’s second round of the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, or GEER. The largest of those dedicated $11 million to purchase classroom supplies for thousands of Oklahoma teachers through DonorsChoose, an online platform where teachers post needs and donors select projects to donate to.
Help Us Make a Difference
Oklahoma needs high-quality investigative journalism. That is our mission at Oklahoma Watch. We produce stories that hold government and public officials accountable and that make transparent what some prefer to keep secret. We depend on financial support from readers like you to sustain our coverage. Help us make a difference.