Oklahoma’s superintendent of public instruction has made it his mission to put a stop to “woke ideology” in the state’s public school system since he took office in January.

His approach is likely a preview of what could be coming in other Republican-led states, reports NBC News.

Ryan Walters opposed critical race theory and drew criticism this summer for saying people shouldn’t be judged as racist because of their skin color.

He has called the teachers union a “terrorist organization,” referred to journalists as a “true enemy of taxpayers,” pushed for prayer in public schools, adopted regulations prohibiting school libraries from circulating books with “sexualized content” and requiring educators to tell parents if their child changes their gender identity, and claimed that Tulsa Public Schools is receiving money from the Chinese government.

“This is a war for the souls of our kids,” Walters said after he was elected. He also said liberals are trying to make children hate their parents and the country. “I will do all I can to fight to get that nonsense out of schools and to put God back in schools.”

His outspoken approach is not typical of state superintendents, said Josh Cowen, a Michigan State University education policy professor, who explained the role of a superintendent is generally ‘relatively quiet’ and focused on complying with regulations and facilitating school funding.

“It’s a very bureaucratic job,” Cowen said, “and these guys are turning it into a much more outward-facing, Twitter kingdom, ‘own the libs’ kind of job.”

Bob Linn, president of the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee, a group that advocates for Judeo-Christian influence in government, told NBC Walters was “a rare individual in politics who is doing exactly what he said.”

“This isn’t some bizarre document that some little group of people are foisting upon a culture that we’ve never seen,” Linn said. “It’s the most influential document in the history of mankind. So the fact that that’s shocking shows the degree to which secularism has become a shroud over academic societies.”

The catch-all label of “woke” is taking on a leading role within the burgeoning GOP presidential contest, with candidate-in-waiting Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor, emerging as a fierce opponent of policies designed to ensure equity when it comes to race, gender and public health.

On Thursday, 19 Republican governors, including DeSantis and South Dakota’s Kristi Noem, another possible 2024 contender, signed a letter opposing the Biden administration’s support of a federal labor rule allowing retirement plans to consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors when making investment decisions.

Critics say the efforts are the latest example of the world trying to get “woke,” allocating money based on political agendas, like a drive against climate change, rather than on earning the best returns for investors.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Solange Reyner

Solange Reyner is a writer and editor for Newsmax. She has more than 15 years in the journalism industry reporting and covering news, sports and politics.

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