Oklahoma is the latest state to combat “indoctrination” in its state higher education system, requesting a detailed report from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education of all expenditures related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) made over the past 10 years.
Last week, Allison D. Garrett, chancellor of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, provided the state with a report of school spending history on DEI. Secretary of Education Ryan Walters gave the state regents fewer than 10 days to gather this data, a tight window that required the help of hundreds of employees.
“The linked materials represent the best efforts of hundreds of staff across the state system of higher education to provide the requested information in a very short amount of time during the busy start of the spring semester,” Garrett said.
The verdict: less than 1% of state and federal funding supports DEI. In total, Garrett’s team reported for the current fiscal year that DEI initiatives amassed $10.2 million in funding, only $3.7 million of which is comprised of state contributions. Compared to the state budget, that’s .29% of total funding and .11% of state expenditure, respectively.
However, Walters is not convinced by the report, believing that significant portions of it are incomplete and that where there is transparency, the money spent signifies an irresponsible waste of taxpayer dollars.
“I am deeply concerned at the incomplete nature, excuses, and where these dollars are being spent,” Walters said. “Education is key, and diversity equity inclusion programs are the gateway for liberal indoctrination.”
Walters believes schools are spending a disproportionate amount of time and money on these programs, which are not adequately preparing students with valuable skills they’ll need once they enter the workforce.
Walters is one of the latest politicians to publicly decry DEI in the public domain. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis leads his own charge against the program in Florida and has similarly scorned the state’s latest reports on DEI spending.
What Walters and DeSantis seem to not understand—or simply ignore—is that DEI’s sole purpose isn’t focused on propagating critical race theory and compelling white students to feel shame for wrongs they did not commit. Garrett went to lengths in a response letter to explain to Walters that DEI programs also support military veterans, disabled people, single mothers, and students aging out of foster care.
“As you will see from the responses, diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at our college and university campuses are designed to facilitate student engagement and provide support services to students with varied backgrounds and needs,” he wrote.
The president of the United Faculty of Florida expressed similar concerns about DeSantis, finding their lack of mutual understanding on what DEI does on a daily function “baffling.”