Superintendent Ryan Walters Threatens Licenses of Teachers Who Skip Bible Lessons

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Written By Kanisha Laing

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Oklahoma educators who refuse to teach students about the Bible could lose their teaching licenses, according to Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters.

Walters issued a memo requiring all Oklahoma schools to teach students in grades five through twelve about the Bible’s influence on America’s founding and historical figures. Schools must also have a Bible in every classroom.

In an interview, Walters said teachers who do not comply could face the same consequences as those who refuse to teach about the Civil War. This could include losing their teaching licenses, a decision that requires a vote by the Oklahoma State Board of Education, which Walters leads.

“Any teacher that knowingly disobeys the law and our standards will face repercussions,” Walters said. “Teachers must teach Oklahoma Academic Standards, and this is now part of them.”

The new rule was immediately criticized by civil liberties and religious groups. The Jewish Federation of Tulsa and the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations stated that Walters is improperly promoting Christianity in schools.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State also criticized Walters, saying he is imposing his religious beliefs on children and is “carefully assessing options.”

The education department had been developing guidance on using the Bible in classrooms for nine months. Walters said they focused on the Bible because it “is the book that’s under assault.”

A spokesperson from the Oklahoma attorney general’s office said that existing law already allows teachers to use Bibles in the classroom and that there is no legal authority for Walters’ memo to require content.

Walters believes his order will survive legal challenges due to the justices appointed to the Supreme Court by former President Donald Trump. Walters added that if Trump wins a second term, it will help advance their agenda even more.

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