'Mad Moms' Rally For More Education Funding In Oklahoma

Wednesday, May 9th 2012, 6:56 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Tulsa area parents led an effort Wednesday to get more education funding out of the legislature. But school leaders have been told to expect no more money than last year.

These parents want lawmakers to prove what they say about education being the top priority. They don't believe Oklahomans are getting the best education we can afford.

The organizers hoped for a larger crowd, but with limited time and resources to publicize what they called "Mad Mom's March" - it was mostly Tulsa parents out in front of the capitol.

The group "49th is Not OK!" organized it to ask lawmakers to bump up education funding from the state - to offset the decrease in federal funding that's propped up the budget for the last two years.

"There's a $300 million surplus this year and we're asking for $50 million of that to go into education," Hannah Middlebrook said. "And they say they're not hearing from us, so we're here today to make sure they hear us."

As this school year ends, the parents worry about next year - when class sizes are expected to grow because they'll be fewer teachers and more students.

Many districts are looking at cutting teachers because while costs are going up - the money from state is expected to be what it was last year.

"We're mainly concerned about, from a state standpoint, flat funding means less funding," Eric Fultz said. "From my standpoint, I'm not so much concerned about a pay raise for teachers; I'm worried about losing teachers."

The parents came to the capitol as the vote on a state budget gets close. They are hoping this small delegation of parent lobbyists could stop the momentum to pass tax cuts instead of plowing an expected surplus into education.

"It just seems like everybody is asleep and they don't realize what's going on and how the next cut is going to affect the schools, and I just want people to wake up," said Jackie Uhl with Dibble Schools.

The parents went inside looking for lawmakers but had trouble getting an audience during the busy last few weeks of the session.

"I think it's so important that parents, all of us, are willing to stand up for not just our children, but for children statewide," Middlebrook said.

The members of the legislature haven't seen the budget yet, because most of it is worked out by a few key leaders. Still the final vote could come next week.

04/24/2012 Related Story: Students, Parents Lobby Oklahoma Legislature On School Funding