OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Education Association has responded after State Superintendent Ryan Walters called teacher unions “terrorist organizations.”

“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,” said Cari Elledge, Vice President of OEA.

On Monday, 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,” said Walters.

The room began to boo and groan at the comments.

Walters sat there smirking at lawmakers.

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.  

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 the OEA vice president.

On Sunday, runners participated in the annual OKC Memorial Marathon.

An event in memory of those 168 lives lost on April 19, 1995.

The FBI labels terrorism, in part, as “violent, criminal acts.”

The OEA has disagreed with Walters’ rhetoric since he took office earlier this year, but the organization has never turned to violence.

Elledge said it just wants what’s best for educators and students in Oklahoma.

“When there’s name-calling and umm disgusting things said about educators that hill is a lot more steep to climb,” said Elledge.