The Oklahoma State Department of Education hired a marketing firm for $22,500 to produce video content, including a highly controversial video on teacher unions. (Photo by Brent Fuchs/For Oklahoma Voice)
The Oklahoma State Department of Education spent $22,500 in taxpayer funds to create a controversial video that painted teacher unions in a sinister light.
The agency paid the Houston-based marketing firm Precision Outreach to make the “public awareness video” and for future production services through May 21, 2024, according to purchase orders released in response to an Open Records request.
The price included 30 minutes of video production, three days of onsite filming, use of equipment, and post-production work and editing. Precision Outreach, which has an office in Oklahoma City, was selected due to the “expedited time constraints needed for production of the video,” a purchasing order states.
Dan Isett, a department spokesperson, said the agency doesn’t have an in-house video team, so producing video content must be done through a vendor contract.
The video portrays the state’s largest teacher union, the Oklahoma Education Association, and its national affiliate as a malignant force in the public school system.
“The fact that the (Department of Education) would choose to spend taxpayer dollars on inaccurate propaganda videos instead of supporting our students and schools’ needs is egregious and is another example of wasteful administrative costs,” OEA President Katherine Bishop said in a statement.
She said lawmakers and state leaders should focus on helping students, educators and local communities “instead of wasting tax dollars to further fuel culture wars and cause division.”
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State Superintendent Ryan Walters first showed the video during a May meeting of the Oklahoma State Board of Education. Teachers in attendance shouted “shame on you” and left in disgust.
The inflammatory video, which can be found on the state agency’s YouTube page, quickly stirred up controversy across the state. Some teachers said they feared it would incite violence against educators.
Walters rejected that notion.
At the time, he wouldn’t say how much the video cost to make.
He said the goal of making the video was to expose the union.
With an ominous soundtrack in the background, the video features boisterous scenes from a National Education Association convention intermingled with Walters’ soundbites on Fox News. NEA speakers, none from Oklahoma, were shown speaking in favor of open access to books, teaching unabridged history and supporting students’ identities.
One individual, not at an NEA convention, is heard saying pedophiles should be called “minor-attracted persons.” Walters claimed without evidence that this person was giving a union-endorsed training.
Teacher unions have become a frequent target for Walters’ criticism. Weeks before he released the video, Walters called them a “terrorist organization” during a hearing at the state Capitol.
The “public awareness video” has since received a content warning from YouTube that advises viewers “this video may be inappropriate for some users.”
Another video from the state Department of Education that targeted Tulsa Public Schools was removed from YouTube after media outlets complained it used their content without permission. It was unclear who produced that video.OSDEvideopurchaseorder-2
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