OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Senator George Young, D-Oklahoma City, was recently awarded Legislator of the Year by the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA), and he is now speaking out in support of those deemed ‘terrorists’ by State Superintendent Ryan Walters during a House committee meeting last week.

On May 1, in front of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee, Walters said he wouldn’t work with teachers unions.

“You know I don’t negotiate with the teachers’ union. They’re a terrorist organization.”

Ryan Walters

The room began to boo and groan at the comment.

The OEA responded to Supt. Walters’ comment:

In less radical times, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction calling the educators who serve in our public school classrooms ‘terrorists’ would be shocking; however, this inflammatory and demonizing rhetoric continues to escalate in ways that endanger our educators and undermine public education.

Public school educators are not getting rich off of this job. They keep their hearts and classrooms open to every single child across Oklahoma because they love their students. Comparing them to people who blow up buildings is disgusting, especially when every educator puts their life on the line to protect students as school shootings begin to rise.

Unprofessional attacks on these educators is not a strategy to improve outcomes for Oklahoma children.

Oklahoma Education Association

The Superintendent later said it had to do with the COVID outbreak and how unions advocated for keeping kids at home.

“We had kids struggling tremendously at home. We had suicide rates going through the roof,” said Walters.  

Vice President of OEA, Cari Elledge said the comment was “disgusting” and tone deaf.

“Well we live in a state where we’re quite sensitive to issues on terrorism because of the Murrah Bombing,” said Elledge. “It’s not OK to call educators terrorists, especially when you’re trying to do everything we can to recruit and retain the brightest and the best.”

Now, just one week after the inflammatory statements, Sen. Young is speaking out after being awarded the OEA’s Legislator of the Year, which is ‘presented to a legislator or legislators for outstanding support of public education and education employees.’

I must report that I received an award from a terrorist organization. Well, at least from an organization that was designated as a terrorist organization by a duly elected state official. I have not seen any notices from the FBI, CIA, OSBI or the state troopers who are by and large, at least the ones who serve at the state Capitol who would have let me know that I was in some sort of danger, because they do an excellent job of securing our Capitol.

I attended the presentation where I was awarded the distinction of being the Oklahoma Education Association’s ‘Legislator of the Year.’ They seemed like a very warm and good bunch of upstanding Oklahomans. This ‘designated’ terrorist organization, by all accounts, is not committed to clandestine operations or doing harm to the infrastructure of the state of Oklahoma, and quite the contrary, in my opinion, along with the opinion of many other hard working and dutiful Oklahomans, is a beneficial part of society.

Fact is, the organization that gave me the award has many of my friends, my goddaughter, and fellow church members as part of their membership. This organization exists to help support the building of sound minds and quality of life for our children and they do it at a great sacrifice. We have caused them great pain by not giving them the support that they truly need to do the job that by any measure is one of most significant work. It is done daily; and yes, this includes time throughout the summer educating our children.

The horrific reference that was made by our superintendent of public instruction is a slap in the face to hard working teachers, support staff, administrative staff, and to each person who has been prepared for life by our public education system. OEA is just one of the organizations that represent our teachers to help make sure we have quality in the classroom. They are not a terrorist organization. As I accepted my award from them, I told them to fight on to educate our children and to work to make Oklahoma better. I pray for our leaders who speak words of deceit and lies to foment division and create dissension. God bless not only him, but also them. Thank you OEA for the continued work of creating an environment of quality public education for all.

Sen. George Young