Parents, Teachers Meet At Union High School, Prepare For Education Rally

Thursday, March 27th 2014, 11:31 pm
By: Tess Maune

About a dozen parents and teachers showed up for a meeting at Union High School to learn exactly what Monday's big education rally is all about. While some say skipping a school day is imperative to the future of schools in the state, not everyone agreed.

Teacher pay and per student funding are the topics sending teachers, administrators and parents to the State Capitol in droves on Monday.

Retired teacher, Glenda Puett, said, "Our kids deserve more, and the legislature needs to step it up."

Union School's PTA Legislative Advocacy Chair, Michelle Jones, said, "My Oklahoma legislature does not value public education, they can say it as much as they like, but their actions need to meet their words."

Jones, will join as many as 25,000 supporters at the rally.

"They're tired of being paid last in the region and nearly last in the nation," Jones said.

During a meeting Thursday night, Jones told parents and teachers that Oklahoma ranks 48th in the nation for teacher salary.

"Average pay in every other state, particularly in our region, is about 10,000 more a year higher, and, it's really hard for Oklahoma to attract new teachers," said Jones.

Mother Monica Deon, spoke up, saying teacher pay should stay where it is.

"I believe teachers are getting paid what they're worth right now. If they're not producing, they should not be paid more," Deon said.

Deon is one parent you won't see on the Capitol steps next week.

"If they wanted to do this, they should have waited until after testing," Deon said.

She said with all the days her son missed for snow, the classroom is where he should be Monday.

"I don't really think the teachers are thinking about the children at this point," said Deon.

But Puett said that one day shouldn't make a difference. Puett, a teacher for 39 years, marched in the state's last education rally, nearly 25 years ago.

"All the things that teachers walked for in 1990, House Bill 1017, has gone under the rug," Puett said.

The rally, she said, is the only way for the state's school system to turn around.

"Teachers need to be paid more and schools need to have money to lower class sizes and to hire more teachers," said Puett.

The Oklahoma Educators Association shows the number of students is going up, while funding is going down. Schools get $200 million less than in 2008, yet educate 40,000 more students.

The rally begins at 10:30 Monday morning on the South Steps on the Capitol and should last about an hour.