OKLAHOMA CITY —
“We just kind of thought it was wrong to cut school funds,” Exum said.
Though Monday was a school day, the Edmond district allowed students to go to the rally if they had signed permission slips, she said. The four friends rode a school bus to the rally, which Exum said was her first.
Clare Thomas, 72, sat in a chair and held a sign that read “McAlester Public Schools.” She and her two sons are all products of Oklahoma public education, she said.
“I’m not a parent right now. I’m not a teacher. I’m a retired old lady,” Thomas said. “I want to make sure what we received continues in the future.”
Tony Scantlin, an art teacher from Tahlequah, said the state ranks 49th nationally in spending per pupil but second in prison funding.
“There’s never been enough money for schools,” Scantlin said. “I think that money’s there. It’s just not getting where it’s needed.”
Jonathan Small, vice president for policy at the Oklahoma Council of Pubic Affairs, agrees the money isn’t getting where it needs to, but he said there’s more than enough budgeted for schools.
During an interview, Small cited figures that factor cost of living and common education spending, and show Oklahoma actually ranks 28th to 30th in the nation, not 49th.
Oklahoma ranks 10th in the number of school districts and 11th in administrative spending, he said. Less should be allocated to administrative costs, he added, and more to teachers and classrooms.
“It really is a revenue allocation situation,” he said. “Our common education revenues and spending are at an all-time high. We definitely need to do a much better job in how we allocate resources.”
Mike Turner, R- Edmond, said he was unhappy that some districts canceled classes so that teachers could come lobby legislators. Turner said he supports educators’ rights to lobby, but they should do it on their own time.