‘They’re going to continue to lie’: Walters fires back against detractors

KOKH - June 10, 2024 5:49 am

State Superintendent Ryan Walters

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters (R) is responding to the slew of recent actions from lawmakers concerning himself and the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

Such actions include passing a ban on certain public relations spending, issuing a subpoena, and requesting an investigation into OSDE Chief Policy Advisor Matt Langston.

Several Republicans, including State Rep. Mark McBride, have been involved in the efforts.

Walters asserted that Rep. McBride is taking marching orders from teachers’ unions and “LGBTQ+ groups.”

Lawmakers’ recent actions have constituted political attacks, according to Supt. Walters, who argued they’re meant to distract from the department’s accomplishments.

The department has spent tens of thousands of dollars on videos and landing Supt. Walters national media interviews on topics ranging from drag queens in classrooms to books to others like the southern border and fentanyl.

When asked, “Can you at least understand why some people might get the impression that you weighing in on these various issues, maybe not strictly education-related, might veer into perhaps advancing yourself more than the department on the taxpayer’s dime?” Supt. Walters responded, “I mean look, Democrats are confused about a lot. I mean Democrats… think there’s 84 genders when there’s only two genders. So they get confused a lot. So many Democrats, ’cause they’re going to continue to lie, find a lot of confusion. But no. Look, we’re going to continue champion Oklahoma’s success story.”

When lawmakers asked the state attorney general to conduct an investigation, they highlighted the ties between Langston, his associates, and the companies who earned taxpayer-funded contracts.

When asked, “To be clear, sir, you see no conflict of interest, no impropriety whatsoever, between these state contracts, going to these companies with ties to perhaps past coworkers of Langston, things like that?” Supt. Walters replied, “There’s never been any issues with any of our contracts. We continue to go above and beyond to make sure every legal measure is taken with everything we do here in the agency.”

Lawmakers passed a measure banning OSDE from spending money on certain public relations efforts. Supt. Walters shared that the bill will have more far-reaching consequences than expected.

In his view, “When you don’t define the terms you have to use the general understanding here. And when you don’t define what these terms mean, that means the website comes down, that means I cannot speak to groups about the work we’re doing. That means no more literacy nights. That means no more teacher of the year program.”

Is Langston getting a paycheck while not doing much to earn it? That’s another question lawmakers raised in their request for an investigation into his position.

“There seems to be some concern on behalf of lawmakers that Langston is a quote ‘ghost employee,'” noted FOX 25, “what does his day-to-day look like here at the department as he’s collecting a taxpayer paycheck?”

According to Supt. Walters, “Sure, yeah, I mean, he’s heavily involved in all the major projects like I discussed. But what you see is Mark McBride is a liar. Mark McBride is captured and controlled by the teachers unions and the radical left LGBTQ+ groups.”

According to the state superintendent, Langston is involved in all major department efforts, such as teacher recruitment, literacy programs, turning around Tulsa Public Schools, and getting 117 schools off the “F” list.

When asked, “Department records I’ve seen recently from the subpoena characterize Langston as a part-time employee, but his hourly rates that we’re seeing seem to be over the full-time limit. Is he a full-time employee here as those records show?” Oklahoma’s top public education officials responded, “Yeah, I mean, it is what the records show there. I mean, what we’ve seen you know is we’ve got staff that are employed in different kind of statuses, so that’s always been the one that’s made the most sense with him.”

“I’m going to do all in my power… to put Oklahoma education back in the hands of parents and to give every kid an opportunity to be successful,” Supt. Walters added.

Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) will decide whether to approve or veto the public relations spending ban. As of Thursday, there was no word as to what choice the governor was planning to make, but a spokeswoman for his office shared that more details will become available closer to the upcoming signing deadline.

 

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