Ch 9 - June 28, 2024 6:12 am

The Oklahoma State Board of Education Thursday meeting is underway with several significant items on its agenda.

State Superintendent Ryan Walters began by outlining some of the topics for the June 27 meeting including the recent state supreme court ruling against a state-funded and established religious charter school, St. Isidore. The ruling stated that under Oklahoma law, a charter school is a public school, meaning it must be nonsectarian. As such the state’s establishment of a religious charter school “violates Oklahoma statutes, the Oklahoma Constitution, and the Establishment Clause.”

Walters called it one of the worst decisions that the Oklahoma Supreme Court has made and promised to take the case to a high court if possible.

“Earlier in the week, the Supreme Court has made some horrendous decisions. This is one of the worst. What the court did was rule against the parents of Oklahoma who have demanded more choices for their kids, we have a great opportunity to make sure that parents have the most options of any parents in the country here in Oklahoma, by giving them the ability to go to a public school, charter schools, private schools, this would have been the most unique charter school in the country. So I want you all to know, that we will continue to fight back against this, we want to continue to provide an opportunity for parents to send their kids to high-quality schools.

To be clear, it’s this is an argument that is based on a myth. On a lie. You’re not going to find the separation of church and state in the Constitution. It’s not there. You’re not going to see the founders describe religion in this way. But what you are seeing is a court that lacks an understanding of the Constitution. And we are prepared to challenge this all the way to the US Supreme Court to make sure that religious liberty is protected in the state of Oklahoma and that parents have all options available,” said Walters.

Related to the Supreme Court decision, Walters announced on Thursday that every teacher and classroom will be required to have a Bible and that he would be issuing a memo to every school district in Oklahoma about the decision. Walters cited a state statute regarding historical documents, claiming the Bible is a document that has significance to historical events as well as the foundation of America.

“The last is, we’re going to make an important announcement today regarding the bible and the Ten Commandments. My staff has been looking at Oklahoma statute, we’ve been looking at Oklahoma Academic standards. And it’s crystal clear to us that in the Oklahoma academic standards under Title 70 on multiple occasions, the bible is a necessary historical document to teach our kids about the history of this country, to have a complete understanding of western civilization, understand the basis of our legal system, and frankly talking about the bible one of the most foundational documents used for the constitution and the birth of our country. We also find major points in history that refer to the bible, reference the bible.

We see multiple figures whether we’re talking about the Federalist Papers, constitutional conventional arguments, and Martin Luther King Jr who used it as a tremendous impetus for the civil rights movement and tied many of those arguments back to the bible. It is essential that our kids have an understanding of the bible and its historical context. So we will be issuing a memo today that every school district will adhere to, which is that every teacher, every classroom in the state, will have a bible in the classroom and will be teaching from the bible in the classroom to ensure that this historical understanding is there for every student in the state of Oklahoma in accordance with our academic standards and state law. “

According to the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office, the Bible is already allowed to be in school classrooms. The Bible was included as an instructional support tool in May of 2019 under the social studies academic standards.

“Oklahoma law already explicitly allows Bibles in the classroom and enables teachers to use them in instruction,” said a representative from the AG’s office.

In a follow-up statement, ODSE’s Communications Director stated that per the memorandum all Oklahoma schools would be not only enabled but required to incorporate the Bible and the Ten Commandments, as instructional support into the curriculum across specified grade levels. They said the directive is in alignment with the educational standards approved on or about May 2019, with which all districts must comply. They added that the State Department of Education may supply teaching materials for the Bible, as permissible, to ensure uniformity in delivery.

The Board also discussed revoking teaching certificates for two Kingfisher High School coaches who are facing felony charges connected to hazing allegations. Jeff Meyers is charged with felony child neglect and Micah Nall is charged with felony child abuse and perjury.

The board voted to begin proceedings to revoke both of their certificates in February.

The meeting can be viewed on Facebook.


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