Teacher Rally Had One Message: Improve Oklahoma's Public Education
OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma - Thousands of teachers and parents traveled to the state Capitol with a single message: improve public education in Oklahoma.
New State Superintendent, Joy Hofmeister shared that message and highlighted her plan to improve education at the rally.
The energy at this year's rally was vastly different than last year's, where then State Superintendent, Janet Barresi, didn't attend.
Monday, Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Keith Ballard, and many others, said there is now hope from the education community, thanks in part to the new superintendent.
Fiona Einarsson is a 10-year-old student with a plan of her own.
“I want to be a homeopathic doctor," she said.
The Tulsa fourth grader woke up bright and early Monday to travel to Oklahoma City with her mother, Paula Scheider.
"I wanted to set an example for my daughter that when you support something, you show up, and I think it set a good example for her and maybe even got her interested in government a little too," she said.
Hofmeister addressed the thousands that traveled from across the state and said education should be the first priority of state government.
"Our kids matter. Public Education matters," she declared.
The crowd also heard about Hofmeister's push for a testing change, from end of year exams to ACTs.
3/30/2015 Related Story: Thousands Rally At Oklahoma Capitol For Education Funding
"Once Oklahoma's students and educators can focus on expectations of college and career tech institutions, we will then be able to reduce remediation rates," she said.
A 22-year TPS veteran teacher, Susannah Henson, joined the crowd at the capitol to vocalize the importance of hiring and retaining good teachers.
"I'm a special ed. teacher and we are down special ed. teachers, so I'm actually doing the work of two-and-a-half special ed. Teachers," she said.
She, among many others, was not happy with the states ranking of 49th when it comes to public education.
"I'm not looking for first or second, I'm just looking for something different. It's been 49th forever so I hope this made a difference today," Henson said.
Another issue addressed by Hofmeister was the need to extend the academic calendar year.
She said Oklahoma's is one of the shortest and needs to be brought up to the national average - along, of course, with teacher pay.