Group Believes Oklahoma Teachers' Rally A Waste Of Time, Money

Friday, March 28th 2014, 11:06 pm
By: News On 6

Thousands of teachers will make the trip to the teachers' rally at the State Capitol. Many will take school buses and get paid to spend the day lobbying lawmakers and one group says it's a waste of money.

But school administrators said the money spent will be an investment in Oklahoma's future. The Tahlequah superintendent is defending her choice to allow teachers to take a paid day and earn professional credit. She said it's a small price to support Oklahoma students.

Superintendent Lisa Presley is gearing up for Monday's teacher's rally. She and more than 220 teachers from her district plan to make the four-hour roundtrip to lobby lawmakers.

"We see our role as advocates for children, and if no one else is going to advocate for them, we're going to have to be that voice," Presley said.

That's why she says the trip to the Capitol is so important.

But some teachers are getting paid for Monday's trip, and groups like the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs don't agree with the decision.

"They're (parents) also unhappy here, because of the ethical issue, because you have teachers that are leaving to go to a political rally in Oklahoma City," said Josh Harlow, with the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.

Presley said teachers who attend the rally, and those who stay behind, will also earn a professional development credit for the material taught on the trip.

The superintendent said an outside group is paying for the fuel for the activity buses, which will be taken by teachers to the rally, Administrators said anyone can rent district property.

But Harlow said using those vehicles crosses ethical boundaries.

"To use school buses and district property to travel, I think that's in pretty poor taste," Harlow said.

Administrators said fighting for children is part of being a teacher. Presley said funding cuts have already taken a toll on learning. When she had to let several literacy teachers go, the superintendent said students' grades suffered.

"We retained the language arts teachers, not the literacy, our test scores have declined since then. We can see the result of that," Presley said.

Tulsa Public Schools said its teachers going to OKC on Monday are not being paid, school is out and teachers are paying out of their own pockets to ride buses.