Legislators Set To Welcome Thousands Of Teachers To Oklahoma Capitol

Sunday, March 30th 2014, 10:21 pm
By: News On 6

Thousands of teachers from across the Sooner State will converge on the state capitol on Monday.

Their message is that there needs to be more money for public education.

As many as 25,000 educators are expected in Oklahoma City to rally for education funding. The Oklahoma Education Coalition says appropriations to public schools are about $200 million less than in 2009 even though there are about 40,000 more public school students than there were five years ago.

Teachers, educators and school administrators are demanding legislators bring funding back up to at least where it was before the recession.

You might be surprised to hear that they're looking forward to meeting with teachers tomorrow.

Some lawmakers even plan to pitch a tent on the state capitol lawn overnight to welcome rallying teachers.

"I'm actually expecting anywhere from 600 to 800 people from my district," said State Rep. Jadine Nollan, R-Tulsa.

Teachers and administrators from all across Oklahoma are rallying over state funding, mandated testing and lack of resources in the classroom.

Jeannie McDaniel, (D) Tulsa, "I think they want to put a face to the people that really control the destiny in the classroom," said state rep. Jeannie McDaniel, D-Tulsa.

Sen John Ford, (R) Bartlesville, "This is going to be impressive tomorrow," said state senator John Ford, R-Bartlesville. "There will be a lot of people there, but to really get things done in Oklahoma City what I'd recommend to every parent and every teacher and every administrator is develop a relationship with your legislator up front."

State Senate Education Committee Chairman John Ford is holding one-on-one meetings with educators from his home district of Bartlesville.

Each lawmaker has their own ideas for educating children.

"The bottom line, if we don't fund education there's too many kids in a classroom," McDaniel said. "If you go and observe a classroom today these kids have a lot of needs."

McDaniel says lawmakers should work to fund education before any more tax cuts are considered, while Nollan wants school districts to have more local control over education guidelines.

"When you pass a state law, it's a one-size-fits-all situation and sometimes it just doesn't fit," she said.

Lawmakers are hoping teachers will continue to work with them once they leave the Capitol steps.

"Try to have that good conversation, but also develop that relationship so this is not the first and it's not the last time you talk to the legislator," Ford said.

Gov. Fallin said she supports more funding, and has proposed an additional $50 million in education this year despite anticipated budget shortfalls.

The rally starts tomorrow on the steps of the capitol building at 10:30 a.m.