Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has signed an executive order that defunds diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) offices and programs in state agencies, including public colleges, in the latest attempt by Republican-controlled states to rein in such programs, CNN reported.
The executive order bans state funding and state “property or resources” from being used for such efforts.
“In Oklahoma, we’re going to encourage equal opportunity rather than promising equal outcomes,” Stitt said in announcing his executive order, the Washington Examiner reported. “Encouraging our workforce, economy, and education systems to flourish means shifting focus away from exclusivity and discrimination and toward opportunity and merit. We’re taking politics out of education and focusing on preparing students for the workforce.”
Oklahoma joins Iowa, Florida, and Texas, which have made similar efforts, accusing DEI organizations of promoting discrimination and pushing liberal politics.
Jonathan Butcher, a senior research fellow in education policy at the Heritage Foundation, told the Washington Examiner he expects more states to take similar action in 2024 and insists it could become a litmus test for conservative policy.
“Once Florida did it, that sort of set the bar and conservative lawmakers said this is the standard now that we should be aiming towards,” he said. “Every conservative lawmaker now should consider it a representation of their commitment to good policymaking.”
DEI departments at universities are usually incorporated into the institution’s administrative bureaucracy, with many providing training programs on concepts such as implicit bias and other controversial topics that are often connected to critical race theory.
As state legislatures move into the 2024 legislative session, Butcher said he expects more states with unified Republican control to push for similar bans on DEI.
“We should be looking at places that recently either made moves on either critical race theory or school choice or parent bills of rights because these things are all [from] the same parent empowerment mindset,” Butcher said. He specifically cited Utah and South Carolina as states that could enact legislation this year, in addition to Oklahoma, which could attempt to codify Stitt’s executive order.
“Courts have identified that these DEI activities are the enemy of free speech,” Butcher said. “It’s really incumbent on anyone who’s interested in free speech to continue to point out the examples of how DEI staff or DEI office programs get in the way of free expression,” the Washington Examiner reported.
Brian Freeman | email@example.com
Brian Freeman, a Newsmax writer based in Israel, has more than three decades writing and editing about culture and politics for newspapers, online and television.
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