Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has appointed Nellie Tayloe Sanders, an advocate for special education and school choice, to serve as the state’s new Secretary of Education.
Though not herself an educator, Sanders has long been an advocate for Oklahoma’s most vulnerable students. She has served as a member of Oklahoma’s Virtual Charter School Board and has worked at the Center of Family Love for over a decade, providing Christian ministry to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Gov. Stitt’s administration points to Sanders’ first-hand experience as a student with dyslexia as a major impetus for her education advocacy.
“Nellie has championed innovative paths in education, particularly for those with dyslexic thinking and unique learning styles,” Gov. Stitt shared in a Wednesday statement.
“Her advocacy, rooted in her personal experiences and her journey as a parent, has led to impactful and sustainable changes. I am enthusiastic about her bringing this dedication and creativity to the Oklahoma school system, as we strive towards an educational framework that effectively supports and empowers every student.”
Sanders seconded the importance of supporting the unique learning needs of each student, tying this concept to her passion for school choice and empowering families with educational options.
“In an era where one-size-fits-all education falls short, my mission is to revolutionize our approach, ensuring every child finds a pathway to success tailored to their unique needs. My goal is to empower parents with choices and support teachers in unleashing their full potential – moving beyond the constraints of politics and bureaucracy,” stated Sanders, adding, “Governor Stitt’s commitment to educational freedom resonates deeply with me.”
As a Virtual Charter School Board member, Sanders voted in favor of approving the application for St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School – the first religious charter school in the nation. Sanders has stepped down from her previous position on the board, assuming a nonvoting member role in her new capacity as Secretary of Education.
Sanders is the third appointee to fill the role of education secretary in the Stitt administration since 2020. Katherine Curry, the former secretary, resigned from the position in July of 2023 after serving only three months, citing “the complexity and political environment,” returning to her previous role as an assistant professor at Oklahoma State University.