Yet another state is joining the growing list of Republican-led states that are defunding efforts that include diversity, equity and inclusion programs.
This week, Oklahoma Republican Governor Kevin Stitt signed a new executive order that defunds any of these so-called DEI programs and offices that have been created at state agencies. That includes all public colleges.
According to the executive order, all funding from the state and state “property or resources” cannot be used to fund any DEI efforts.
When he announced the new order, Stitt said:
“In Oklahoma, we’re going to encourage equal opportunity rather than promising equal outcomes. 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.”
Many DEI organizations have been accused of pushing the politics of ultra-liberals and of promoting discrimination. Now, Oklahoma is joining a growing list of states who are making efforts to ban the usage of DEI programs and initiatives in government-funded agencies.
Texas, Florida and Iowa are states that have done the same.
More states are expected to follow suit in the year ahead, according to the Heritage Foundation’s senior research fellow in education policy, Jonathan Butcher. In speaking with the Washington Examiner, he said that this push back against DEI programs could ultimately become a litmus test for the policies of conservatives.
As he explained:
“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. Every conservative lawmaker now should consider it a representation of their commitment to good policymaking.”
At universities, DEI departments typically get incorporated into administrative bureaucracy. Many of these departments design training programs and implement concepts including implicit bias, as well as many other topics that are controversial.
Some are even connected to the much-debated critical race theory.
“We should be looking at places that recently either made moves on either critical race theory or social choice or parent bills of rights because these are all [from] the same parent empowerment mindset.”
To that end, he believes that South Carolina and Utah could be two states that could consider similar executive orders or legislation in the year ahead that ban DEI programs. He also mentioned that Oklahoma could eventually look to codify the governor’s recent executive order through legislative action.
As Butcher said:
“Courts have identified that these DEI activities are the enemy of free speech. 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.”
DEI programs and initiatives have become very popular across the world in recent years, and have been integrated as part of private corporations and government entities.
Now, though, some of these governments are starting to fight back against them.