Thousands Of Teachers Join At Capitol To Rally For Education

Monday, March 31st 2014, 5:39 pm
By: News 9

More than 25,000 people rallied Monday at the capitol in support of more school funding.

School administrators, teachers, students and parents made up the majority of the crowd. The rally lasted for nearly two hours with supporters showing up as early as Sunday night.

3/31/2014 Related Story: Thousands Of Teachers Rally At State Capitol For Education Funding

Signs stating 678,000 students are reason enough to increase funding decorated the south entrance of the capitol, while chants of unfairness rang out. Supporters made sure legislators heard their message loud and clear.

"We are irritated, very much so," said Ponca City teacher Amanda Lyons.

Lyons was among the crowd of thousands, peppered with individual school pride.

"Classroom sizes are enormous," Lyons said. "It's not fair. We need help, we need the funding we need the state to pay attention to us, please."

Lyons along with representatives from every district in the state are leaning on numbers that show funding is down nearly $200 million since 2009.

"We feel like we have been patient. We've waited eight years and when you need solutions the time is now," Lyons said.

President of the Oklahoma Educators Association, Linda Hampton, is one of the organizers of the rally.

"Teachers and administrators need to be part of the process," she said.

But Education Secretary Bob Sommers wanted to make sure educators know the Governor's office prioritizes school funding and has $50 million increase planned for this fiscal year.

"Recovery from a $380 million cut is very difficult and we are committed to doing that as aggressively as we can," Sommers said.

Representative Mike Turner instead questioned the availability of the supporters.

"For us they fell down on the job," Turner said. "They we're supposed to teach children today. It is a school day. They are not doing that. Instead they are lobbying for more dollars."

More dollars that Turner says aren't needed instead, a reassessment of school administrators.

"We can put as much money as we want in the hopper but we'll keep getting the same results. We need to look at where that money is spent," he said.

In the meantime, Lyons will continue to teach in Oklahoma because it's home.

"We're doing everything we can with the allotted," Lyons said.

There is one thing Turner and those at the rally agree on and that's limiting unfunded standards the government has put on schools, hoping that would make more room for creativity.