Last year, the Oklahoma legislature passed, and the Governor signed into law, H.B. 1775, which prohibits foundational tenets of critical race theory from being taught in Oklahoma public schools. The law directs the State Board of Education to adopt and implement rules to ensure that these discriminatory concepts are eliminated from our public school system.
Last September, the State Board of Education passed emergency rules to implement the provisions of H.B. 1775, which are available here: https://sde.ok.gov/administrative-rules. They are found in the blue box on the page titled “Emergency Rules in Effect”. These rules are temporary. The State Board of Education must pass permanent rules to replace the emergency rules that were passed last year—and the State Department of Education has started the process to adopt final, permanent rules. As a part of this process, the public has an opportunity to weigh in on the final rules that will be adopted by the State Board of Education and will be then sent to the Oklahoma Legislature for their review and approval.
On Monday, January 3, 2022, the Department posted the emergency rules for public comment. “Public comment” is a thirty-day window for the public to submit comments on the emergency rule. It is very important for you to be involved in this process. The emergency rules passed by the State Board of Education last September are strong rules. But there are key changes that need to be made to ensure that Oklahoma has the strongest protections against critical race theory.
NOW is the time to file public comments on the Department’s proposed Permanent Rules. These model public comments are intended to help you participate in the public comment process—and drafted to ensure that Oklahoma’s regulations are the most robust in the country.
Submitting public comments using this process provides a mechanism for you to request changes to the regulation that make the rule stronger and allow the State Board of Education to have additional oversight over schools that incorporate the tenets of critical race theory into public school programs. These model comments include both:1) changes you want the Department to make to the rule; and 2) aspects of the rule you do not want the Department to change.
The rules are necessary to ensure that critical race theory and all programs and activities that teach it are eliminated from all aspects of our education system. There is evidence that Oklahoma school districts are pushing back on this law and essentially ignoring the Emergency Rules. This is why we need to strengthen the Permanent Rules so school districts understand their obligations and so parents and grandparents know their rights when interacting with their child’s school.
It is very important that you submit public comments on the proposed rule. It is the only way your voice will be heard, and the only way to ensure that we eliminate critical race theory from our public-school programs. Thank you for taking the time to do this!
Here are a few things to keep in mind and the process you will follow:
- Your public comment must be submitted by 4:30 p.m. on February 2, 2022. Any comment submitted after that deadline will not be considered by the Department.
- You may submit your public comment one of four ways:
- Via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please SIGN YOUR NAME at the end of the email.
- Delivered in person at the State Department of Education (Brad Clark, General Counsel, Office of Legal Services, State Department of Education, 5th Floor, Hodge Building, 2500 N. Lincoln Blvd, Oklahoma City, 73105-4599.)
- Delivered by mail to the State Department of Education (Brad Clark, General Counsel, Office of Legal Services, State Department of Education, 5th Floor, Hodge Building, 2500 N. Lincoln Blvd, Oklahoma City, 73105-4599.)
- Appearing in person and orally delivering your comments at a public hearing, which will be held on February 2, 2022, at 2:00 p.m. (The hearing will be held at the Hodge Education Building, State Board Room, Room 1-20, 2500 North Lincoln Boulevard, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. You will be required to sign in, and time limits may be imposed. If you choose this option, bring an extra copy of your remarks to submit to Department staff.)
Below are the step by step instructions we are asking you to follow when filing by email:
- Open up your email to compose a new email.
- On the address line type Rules@sde.ok.gov
- On the subject line type Public Comment for Proposed Permanent Rules HB1775
- Your email will show that it is from your private account.
- In the body of the email you will open up the attached Word document titled “Public Comments Proposed Permanent Rules HB1775. Copy the entire document and then paste it to the body of the email you are sending. It is important that you copy and paste the entire Word Document. Please do not pick out sections for submission.
- It is your choice and is completely optional if you would add a personal story about your child or grandchild or your concerns about this indoctrination in our schools prior to doing the copy and paste of the Word document. Many legislators and State Board of Education members would like to hear your stories and your thoughts. However, if you do not also copy and paste the attached document after you make your personal comments then the staff at the State Department of Education will not know specifically what you want to have changed in the proposed Permanent Rules.
- Be sure to sign your name after making your individual statements or you may type your name at the bottom of the Public Comment document.
If you decide to not send in your comments via email but want to submit your comments in person at the State Department of Education or send them in via traditional mail then please use the same format by copying and pasting the entire Word Document to your letter. Remember to sign it.
Again, these must be submitted by 4:30, February 2nd.