Oklahoma Educators To Rally For 'Brighter Future'

Monday, March 23rd 2015, 2:42 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Tulsa Public Schools will be closed Monday, March 30 as educators attend this year's rally at the Oklahoma State Capitol. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Keith Ballard will make that recommendation at Tuesday night's school board meeting, according to a news release.

The theme of the rally is "Brighter Future." Teachers, parents and education supporters will meet with legislators and peers during the event, with speakers scheduled at 12:30 p.m. on the south steps of the Capitol.

"It is my intention to close school on March 30 so teachers can participate in the rally and meet with legislators," Ballard said. "I am greatly concerned about teacher pay and the statewide teacher shortage."

New Oklahoma State School Superintendent Joy Hofmeister will also be in attendance.

The district closed for the rally last year and had been making plans to close for this one for some time, but only announced it Monday.

Most parents said they hadn't heard about the rally or classes being canceled.

Monday was the first day back at Lee Elementary after six days of Spring Break, but kids will have another break in just a few days.

“I think it's wonderful that teachers are able to go to the capitol and let their voices be heard. I didn't know that school was going to be out, but any day with my kids is another chance for fun,” said parent Kari Wing.

The district is just now notifying parents of the decision, though teachers were told it was a possibility ten days ago.

Last year thousands of teachers, and some parents, went to the capitol to plead for more funding and less testing.

The legislature didn't take either suggestion and this year has far less money to work with; there is a still a chance of action on testing.

"We can't tell anyone that they have to go but it does afford teachers the opportunity to go and address these subjects with legislators if they would like to," said TPS Spokesperson, Chris Payne.

Most TPS parents, like Ciji Jones, are just finding out about the unexpected school holiday.

"It will be a little stressful finding some additional childcare, because I work, and it wasn't planned," she said.

The day missed for the rally pushes the last day of school for students back to Friday, May 22nd and the last day for teachers to the Tuesday after Memorial Day.

The day missed will be counted as a snow day, with the expectation that no more actual snow days will come up.

If there is a school closure for weather, that would bump the last day for students past the Memorial Day weekend, which the district typically tries to avoid.

That would bring in the possibility of slightly longer days to make up the time.