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Ryan Walters out as Oklahoma’s Secretary of Education

State Superintendent Ryan Walters presents his education budget proposal at his first meeting as superintendent, January 2023.
Beth Wallis
/
StateImpact Oklahoma
State Superintendent Ryan Walters presents his education budget proposal at his first meeting as superintendent, January 2023.

Oklahoma’s State Superintendent Ryan Walters will no longer have a spot on Gov. Kevin Stitt’s cabinet.

Walters has courted controversy in his brief time running for and now occupying office.

That’s for hisrhetoric about transgender students and so-called woke teachers, hismanagement of the State Department of Education and for drawingtwo salaries as an elected official and appointed cabinet member.

Walters will keep his role as State Superintendent, but now that second job has come to an end.

"There was no issue with Ryan Walters’s performance as Secretary of Education," Stitt spokeswoman Carly Atchison wrote in an email. "The governor was thrilled with Ryan’s service on the cabinet for four years and the Superintendent remains a close advisor to the governor on education and will always have a seat at the table."

The former history teacher hadn’t yet been re-confirmed for his role in the Stitt administration by the state Senate. And it’s unclear if the Senatehad any interest in doing so.

Walters is paid $124,373 as State Superintendent and was receiving a $40,000 annual salary for his cabinet position.

Several high profile Republican lawmakers have beencritical of Walters, including Rep. Mark McBride, R-Moore, who has introduced legislation to reign in his rulemaking authority. But he has maintained support from Stitt.

“I know he’s easy to pick on a little bit,” Stitt saidat a news conference last week, but “I know Ryan’s heart. He supports teachers, he supports our public school system, he supports parents.”

Walters’ replacement will be OSU-Tulsa education professor Katherine Curry.

"Katherine brings a wealth of experience to oversee the many different areas of education across the state, including higher education and career tech,” Stitt said in a statement about her appointment. “I look forward to her leadership and service as we work towards making Oklahoma a Top Ten state in education.”

Curry has worked at OSU since 2011, teaching graduate level courses on education, leadership and school administration.

Stitt also re-shuffled his cabinet in other ways Tuesday via anexecutive order.

The governor eliminated the Secretary of Science and Innovation position, then created a new Secretary of Workforce Development position. The person filling that role will be named later.

Additionally, Stitt will have a Secretary of Operations and Government Efficiency role, which will be filled by the state’s Chief Operating Officer John Suter.

This report was produced by the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, a collaboration of public media organizations. Help support collaborative journalism by donating at the link at the top of this webpage.

Robby Korth grew up in Ardmore, Oklahoma and Fayetteville, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Nebraska with a journalism degree.
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