Ryan Walters
Oklahoma Secretary of Education Ryan Walters speaks during a press conference Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. Walters announced his 2022 campaign for state superintendent of public instruction six months later on Monday, July 12, 2021. (Tres Savage)

Oklahoma Secretary of Education Ryan Walters announced today that he is running for state superintendent of public instruction in the 2022 election.

“I am thrilled to announce my campaign for Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction,” Walters said in a press release about his candidacy. “Oklahoma is the best place to live, work and raise a family in the nation, but Oklahoma will only continue to thrive if we have an educated workforce to support our growing economy.”

Walters, whom Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt named secretary of education in September 2020, registered his campaign committee with the Ethics Commission on July 9 and has a campaign kick-off event planned for this evening, which Stitt is scheduled to attend.

Walters graduated from McAlester High School in 2004 and went on to teach history at the school. He was named the McAlester teacher of the year in 2015 and was a finalist for Oklahoma teacher of the year in 2016. He continues to teach AP U.S. history at McAlester High School and at Millwood High School in Oklahoma City.

In 2019, Walters became the executive director of Oklahoma Achieves, an education advocacy organization run by the State Chamber of Oklahoma. In 2020, Oklahoma Achieves was absorbed into a new organization, Every Kid Counts Oklahoma, with Walters serving as CEO.

During his time as secretary of education, Walters has occasionally found himself at odds with the policy desires of leading education organizations on topics like school mask mandates and a slate of reforms passed by the Legislature this year.

Ryan Walters joins growing field of candidates

Walters becomes the third candidate to form a campaign for the state superintendent race, joining Shawnee Public Schools Superintendent April Grace and John Cox, the superintendent of Peggs Public Schools.


April Grace, John Cox

April Grace, John Cox are early candidates for state superintendent of public instruction by Megan Prather

All three are registered to run as Republicans, though Cox has run for the office twice before as a Democrat.

Current State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister will reach her term limit in 2022. She first came into office after defeating incumbent Janet Barresi in the Republican primary in 2014.

The superintendent of public instruction is elected every four years and serves as the chairperson of the State Board of Education.