‘Where Joe Biden’s agenda comes to die’: Walters talks LOFT report, responds to critics

KOKH - June 21, 2024 6:02 am

Oklahoma Capitol(Photo by Visions of America-Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

On Thursday, Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters (R) and education officials fielded questions from lawmakers at an hours-long oversight committee hearing on the latest reports from the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency.

The report found that the Oklahoma State Department of Education did not renew a grant for a health-focused grant called Project Get Fit over its inclusion of the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Model.

According to Supt. Walters, the department goes through a process of considering which grants make sense to pursue and which don’t.

One of the LOFT reports reviewed federal funds that support common education.

Regardless, Democrats faulted the department’s approach.

According to Supt. Walters, “The Democrats could not be more irrelevant in the State of Oklahoma. They are completely clueless to the values of Oklahomans.”

The report also concluded that $1.4 million in school safety grants went unspent.

According to Supt. Walters, that was due to department staff leaving and not doing their jobs on their way out.

State Rep. Melissa Provenzano (R) worries that districts missed out on needed resources.

She shared, “I’m just concerned that we’re leaving dollars on the table, especially when we’re so concerned about school safety and school security. Why are we letting those things lapse? We can’t do that.”

Lawmakers have previously said they were worried OSDE wasn’t applying for the maximum number of available federal grants.

Supt. Walters fired back against Democrats on Thursday, calling them “liars,” and dismissed such assertions.

He shared that the LOFT report showed OSDE is upholding its responsibilities and state law directing the department to apply for federal grants.

He also pushed back against their concerns over a lack of transparency in securing federal funds.

In his view, “They’re going to do whatever the teachers’ unions tell them to do. They’re going to continue to push Joe Biden’s agenda. And they know, the State Department of Education is where Joe Biden’s agenda comes to die.”

“The questions that we had could not be answered by the State Department of Education. It felt like they were talking in circles,” noted Rep. Provenzano.

Provenzano shared that she still wants a list of grants applied for in 2023 and 2024—and that she’s worried OSDE isn’t giving districts enough advance notice on how many federal Title I dollars they can expect before funds hit state accounts on Jul. 1.

Officials said the department is still waiting on the federal government to share Title I figures.

Walters also touted the department’s efforts to obtain a literacy grant which he said will supply $12 million a year over 5 years, totaling $60 million.

 

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