Tulsa Teachers' Message At Education Rally, 'Kids First'

Monday, March 31st 2014, 7:42 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Tulsa Public Schools cancelled classes and encouraged teachers to attend the education rally at the Capitol, and hundreds of them did.

The teachers were back in the district Monday evening, hoping for more funding next year to relieve a statewide shortage of teachers because of low pay, leading to larger class sizes.

Teachers would like a raise, but more than one said they just want someone to listen.

Tulsa Public Schools took four buses to the rally, loaded with teachers, a few parents and students as well. In Oklahoma City they waded into the crowd, and just at the sight of it, thought they had done the right thing.

3/31/2014 Related Story: Thousands Of Teachers Join At Capitol To Rally For Education

"It's already a success, look at how many people are here. This many people care about public education. This is important," said teacher Julie Reagle.

The Tulsa area was well represented. Teachers from all over Northeast Oklahoma had the same message.

Teacher Linda Edwards said, "We need to fund education so that it will fund our students and put more resources in the classroom. And that our brightest and best are not going over the state-lines to Kansas and Arkansas and Texas to teacher because they can make more money."

Some in the crowd carried signs asking for more respect from lawmakers and some were critical of state testing. But many said to put the kids first, ahead of other budget needs, and wanted legislators to listen to what the teachers are saying.

"I've taught school for a long time, I came in 1999 and we made some real progress, but I feel like we're going backwards, I feel like people don't realize how much actually goes into teaching public school and I'm kinda tired of being ignored," said teacher Linda Opper.

Teachers say that for lack of money class sizes are growing, and that affects every aspect of teaching and learning.

"Too many kids in our classes, I've got 170 kids a day, I used to have 110. That's how bad this budge crisis has gotten," teacher Janet Johnson said.

They're hoping that the rally, and this year, marks the beginning of real change.

Principal Gart Morris said, "We'll know if they hear us or not, depending on how they vote."

The legislature starts this week making the real decisions about funding; everything from who will get tax cuts to what will get more or less funding.

The teachers are hoping they've had some influence after the rally.