Senate and House Democrats call for Legislature to reject Ryan Walters’ rules

Saturday, 13 April 2024 07:10

Senate and House Democrats call for Legislature to reject Ryan Walters’ rules Featured

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Leaders and educators from the Senate and House Democratic Caucuses are calling on the Legislature to reject State Superintendent Ryan Walters’ rules before the 2024 legislative session ends. With about a month and a half left in the session, there’s still time for lawmakers to act.

“We’re hearing from our constituents who are very concerned about this attack on the local control of Oklahoma public schools. Attorney General Gentner Drummond has already issued an opinion stating Walters and the State Board of Education cannot make these kinds of policy rules without legislative authority,” said Senate Democratic Leader Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City. “Senate and House Democrats are willing and ready to take action to reject these rules, and we ask our colleagues from across the aisle to join us in holding Walters accountable.”

Sen. Carri Hicks, D-Oklahoma City, caucus vice chair, is a former educator and a member of the Senate Education Committee.

“Ryan Walters’ inept leadership is hurting our students and public schools. The state superintendent should be held accountable to keep our students safe and allow teachers the freedom to teach without fear,” Hicks said. “We’re more than halfway through the session, but we still have time to act. As legislators, we can put a stop to Walters’ power grab by rejecting his administrative rules.”

House Democratic Leader Cyndi Munson, D-Oklahoma City, also called for the Legislature to act.

“Under the state superintendent’s leadership, we have seen firsthand how his incendiary language has impacted students and teachers, not to mention the ongoing criminal investigations into the alleged financial mismanagement from the State Department of Education,” Munson said. “We need to stand together for the betterment of our public education system, students, teachers, staff, and all of Oklahoma in holding the State Superintendent responsible. House Democrats have asked for this ad nauseam, and we will continue to do so until he is held accountable."

Rep. Melissa Provenzano, D-Tulsa, assistant leader, and a former teacher and administrator, serves on the House Common Education Committee and the Administrative Rules Committee.

“When drafting rules, state agencies are directed to avoid creating new law through the rule making process. That responsibility belongs to the legislature, and we must reject any attempts by an agency to assume that role,” Provenzano said. “Many of the rules submitted by the State Department of Education appear to cross that line, and the legislature must push back on that effort. Leave the lawmaking to us. I can tell you that as we continue to work on these rules in the House, there does appear to be an effort at this point on both sides of the aisle to get this right.”

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