Ryan Walters’ McCarthyism Is Destroying Okla’s Public Education
Education Secretary Ryan Walters’ threat to revoke the teaching license of Summer Boismier, a former Norman High School teacher, sets the alarm bells ringing: an authoritarian theocracy is upon us in Oklahoma.
Walters, an appointed politician, attacked Boismier for his decision to share the Brooklyn Public Library’s Books Unbanned digital collection. In a video posted to Twitter, Walters said he would personally revoke the teaching certificates of educators found — or, let’s be honest, even suspected — of violating Bill 1775.
He is running against Jenna Nelson, the 2020 state teacher of the year, for the position of state superintendent of public instruction, a position elected by statewide vote.
“If you don’t have a teaching certificate or an administrative certificate, you don’t work in schools,” Walters told a group of voters at a campaign stop. “The state superintendent can remove them.”
He then made a silly gesture with his hand to suggest that he was calling the chips, that he would eliminate independent thought, one teacher at a time.
Walters also released a letter requesting the revocation of Boismier’s teaching certificate.
In light of recent events that led to the firing of Norman High School English teacher Summer Boismier, I am calling on the Oklahoma State Board of Education to immediately revoke her teaching license.” Walters said in a letter.
The problem with Walters’ letter? Boismier was not fired.
She quit rather than teach at a school that was successfully bullied by the Stormtroopers of Ignorance. Walters has lied about Boismier in the press, and I sincerely hope she takes advantage of all available defamation case law and hires a lawyer with killer instincts.
Walters withdrew the letter hours later, citing a “clerical error.” A clerical error occurs when a clerk misfiles a document, as opposed to full libel against a private citizen.
But Walters’ lie hit his target audience. Much of the Oklahoma electorate, although a portion that was inclined to vote for Walters under any circumstances, now believes Boismier was fired when she was not. The bully pulpit has a real bully who shouts “Woke!” From this.
HB 1775 is deeply flawed and, I believe, deliberately vague legislation that Walters uses as a stick against his political enemies. It was written and enacted during the Republican Party’s media witch trials on critical race theory, which is not taught in Oklahoma public schools but should be, given the history of racial massacres and celebrations of the theft of colonial land from our state.
Keeping people uninformed, oppressed and hopeless is Gov. Kevin Stitt’s key policy strategy for unleashing Walters on our state’s educators.
Walters is a modern-day senator, Joseph McCarthy, the chief inquisitor during the “Red Scare” of the 1950s, attempting to erase culture and independent thought in a nation that supposedly cares about these things. During the House Un-American Activities Committee’s reign of terror, movie studios and publishers severed ties or “blackballed” performers whom McCarthy called communists.
Thus, many schools like the Norman public schools censor themselves for fear of reprisals from Walters.
PEN America, a century-old organization that works to preserve free speech in America, maintains a public spreadsheet of books that have been banned or have been proposed for banning, and it is broken down by public schools or other organizations behind the bans.
According to the spreadsheet, Edmond Public Schools banned Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” from its classrooms and libraries. This book may change the lives of young readers as it artfully explains 20th century racism, but Stitt and Walters don’t want to change lives for the better.
Elsewhere, let’s just say that Bristow Public Schools have added a lot to their ignition pile lately, banning SE Hinton’s classic “The Outsiders” and dozens of other texts that might make a young reader think differently about class or race.
Walters may be stopped by a wave of worried voters from both parties, but Walters deliberately purges the teachers he labels with the term “liberal”, calling it “us against them”.
With that in mind, there needs to be a lot of “us” running against “them” in November.
Last updated September 7, 2022, 11:25 a.m. by Brett Dickerson – Editor