OKLAHOMA CITY - Thousands of educators, parents and schoolchildren are rallying at the state Capitol seeking a boost in funding for public schools and a reduction in the number of state-mandated tests.

Wearing T-shirts from their hometown schools, attendees wandered the halls of the Capitol and congregated outside legislators' offices to talk about the importance of more funding for schools.

A similar rally held last year drew an estimated 25,000 people.

While most legislators say they are strong supporters of public schools, finding extra money this year will be difficult with about $611 million less to spend than last year.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Sen. Clark Jolley says lawmakers intend to shield education from cuts as much as possible, but that will lead to bigger reductions for other state agencies.

Unlike last year, though, Oklahoma's top educator was among those rallying for more classroom funding and better teacher pay.

Two months after taking office, Superintendent of Public instruction Joy Hofmeister addressed those in the state Capitol crowd. Former Superintendent Janet Barresi did not speak at last year's rally.

Oklahoma City and Tulsa Public Schools will hold classes on Monday, but do plan to send several people to represent their districts at the rally. Lawton and Ponca City schools do not have class.