Thousands of teachers from across Oklahoma plan to converge on the state Capitol on Monday to deliver a single message to state lawmakers: appropriate more taxpayer dollars to public education.
With state support of public education and teacher salaries among the lowest in the nation, teachers, educators and school administrators are urging lawmakers to restore funding for public education to at least levels it had reached prior to the Great Recession, when revenue shortfalls forced spending cuts to education and other public services.
Appropriations to Oklahoma's 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, according to the Oklahoma Education Coalition, a consortium of education groups that helped organize the rally. About 678,000 students are enrolled in Oklahoma's public schools this year.
"We just haven't had an investment to get us back to our previous level," said Steven Crawford, executive director of the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration.