Dozens of Tulsa teachers continue to make their way, step by step, to the State Capitol to demand education funding. They have been marching since Wednesday and are now halfway to the State Capitol.
Despite some extreme weather conditions including snow and lightning, their spirits remain high.
“If we’re willing to walk 110 miles, what are you willing to do for our kids?” 3rd grade teacher Heather Cody asked lawmakers.
The group has been walking more than 15 miles a day for four days straight. A passion for their students and love outpouring from Route 66 communities helps keep them going.
“People come out of restaurants, their houses to wave and thank us and it’s heartwarming. It makes me feel like I chose the right profession,” said Larry Schultz, who teaches 6th grade at Bixby North Intermediate School.
In Davenport, church members revitalized the educators with fresh baked goodies and a singalong of “This Little Light of Mine” to remind them of their purpose.
Del City teacher Aaron Baker drove all the way to Tulsa, just to make the trek back home on foot.
He said, “We need people with legislators. We need people in the gallery. We need people rallying outside, and we need people doing this kind of demonstration.”
Baker said the march has truly been an experience to remember. The 8th grade teacher at Del Crest Middle School adds, “I was joking with someone that it’s like summer camp, except for your cabin is 15 miles down the road every day, so we’re really forming some special bonds.”
Some in the group are not even teachers, but are marching alongside them anyway. Kristi Shreve is wearing a sign that reads, “PASS CAPITAL GAINS”. She said, “I’m not even a parent. I’m just supporting education and supporting all the teachers walking.”
The marchers are sore, but strive to just keep moving. They do not break for very long. Schultz said, “In the morning I get up, I feel like I’m hobbled. I have to kind of get that circulation going before I can start feeling it again, but other than that I’m in great shape.”
A doctor comes every evening to check on their feet, and even when lightning threatened to interrupt their plans Friday, the teachers walked around a gym track in Stroud more than 100 times to meet their goal.
“We gave them a list of legislators, and while they were walking that track inside, they were making phone calls,” said Cody, a 3rd grade teacher at Mayo Demonstration School.
They hope the message gets across.
Schultz also had a message for his students. He said, “To all my kids back home, don’t forget you have your vocab due when I get back, whenever that is.”
The final stretch of the march will be Tuesday as they leave from Jones High School to reach the State Capitol at last. They would love for a large crowd to join them. In the meantime, the teachers are raising money for a police escort into Oklahoma City. Tulsa Metropolitan Ministries is handling the donations. To contribute, click here.
You can follow their progress through the hashtag, #walkthetalk.