OKLAHOMA WATCH: Why Oklahoma is paying its education superintendent more than the governor

Jan. 25—Shortly after Ryan Walters was sworn in as state superintendent of public instruction, the governor reappointed him secretary of education, according to the Tulsa World, a cabinet position Walters has held since 2020.

If the appointment is confirmed by the Senate, Walters will be in the unusual position of serving both roles for the state. Even more unusual, if not unprecedented, he will receive both salaries: $124,373 for state superintendent plus $40,000 for his Cabinet secretary position.

That's more than the governor's $147,000 salary.

The two positions are distinct under state law. The main duty of the state superintendent is to control and direct the state Department of Education, as well as advise the Board of Education and adopt policies and rules for the department.

The state superintendent serves as chairman of the Board of Education and the state Board of Career and Technology Education and holds a seat on the Board of Equalization.

Duties of the secretary of education include oversight of the Office of Educational Quality and Accountability, a state agency that handles teacher certification and teacher college accreditation, and generally advising the governor of policy changes or problems with education in the state.

Just before the inauguration, Walters resigned from Every Kid Counts Oklahoma, a not-for-profit education reform organization, where he was executive director and earned at least $120,000 a year. Critics viewed that position as a conflict of interest with his responsibilities to the state.

Also, Stitt shook up the state Board of Education by appointing four new members: Donald Burdick, CEO of an energy company; Marla Hill, a homeschooling mother; Kendra Wesson, who owns an accounting firm in Norman and unsuccessfully ran for the House in 2022; and Suzanne Reynolds, a pharmacist.

They replace Brian Bobek, Jennifer Monies, Estela Hernandez and Carlisha Bradley.