Oklahoma Education Secretary Ryan Walters will join two longtime school district leaders in the race to become the state’s top education official.
Voters will vote for state superintendent of public instruction in 2022.
Walters declared his candidacy on Monday. Shawnee Public Schools Superintendent April Grace and Peggs Public Schools Superintendent John Cox have already announced their campaigns.
All three are running as Republicans. No Democratic or independent candidate entered the race.
The election winner will succeed Superintendent of Public Schools Joy Hofmeister as head of the Oklahoma State Department of Education and head of the Oklahoma State Board of Education.
Hofmeister is limited in 2022 after eight years in office.
Walters was a public school teacher for 8 years, teaching high school government and history at McAlester Public Schools and Millwood Public Schools.
null Along with his teaching and state-level roles, Walters is the executive director of Every Kid Counts Oklahoma, an education advocacy organization.
He has served as Oklahoma’s education secretary since September, when Governor Kevin Stitt named him a cabinet minister.
“As an educator myself, I have enjoyed following my students and seeing how their education in my classroom and countless others has directly contributed to their personal success,” Walters said in a statement. “I will not stop until every student in Oklahoma has had the opportunity to succeed to their highest potential. This is what drives my candidacy for state superintendent.”
Walters will kick off its campaign Monday night with a celebration, featuring Stitt as a special guest.
Stitt has filed the paperwork needed to run for a second term in 2022 and has already started fundraising. However, he has yet to officially announce his candidacy for re-election.
Grace is Oklahoma’s 2021 Superintendent of the Year. Fellow district leaders selected Grace for the award last month through the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration, known as CCOSA.
She has been an educator for 30 years and has led the Shawnee District since 2016.
Grace said she has already raised more than $100,000 by announcing her candidacy for the Republican nomination last week.
“I have always believed that it is my job to serve the students and families of my school community in a way that enables every student to succeed,” Grace said in a press release. “I look forward to the opportunity to bring my experiences to bear and use them to serve the more than 700,000 students and their families in the great state of Oklahoma.”
Campaign fundraising reports show that several district superintendents have donated to Grace, including Nick Migliorino of Norman Public Schools, Robert Romines of Moore Moore Public Schools and Bret Towne, who retired from schools this year. public of Edmond.
Leaders of Oklahoma’s education advocacy groups also made personal contributions, such as Oklahoma State School Boards Association Executive Director Shawn Hime, CCOSA Executive Director Pam Deering and Katherine Bishop, Vice -president of the largest teachers’ union in the state.
Cox and Walters have yet to report campaign donations.
This is Cox’s third run for state superintendent and his first run as a Republican. He challenged Hofmeister in 2014 and 2018 as a Democrat.
He lost to Hofmeister 34% to 59% in 2018 and 44% to 56% in 2014.
Cox has been an educator for 36 years and a district superintendent for 27 years.
“It’s time to stand up for the great things we’re doing in public education and keep working hard for the betterment of our children,” Cox wrote on his campaign Facebook page. “I look forward to having conversations with the people of Oklahoma about the future of public schools and quality public education.”
Journalist Nuria Martinez-Keel covers K-12 and higher education statewide in Oklahoma. Do you have a story idea for Nuria? She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @NuriaMKeel. Support Nuria’s work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today at subscribe.oklahoman.com.