Lawmakers respond to education rally

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Educators and students alike take their message to the front steps of the capitol, demanding more state funding, less standardized testing, and that their voices be heard.

But with a state deficit of more to $600 million, lawmakers say drastic, immediate change is simply unrealistic.

Thousands rallied for the cause, on a mission for a 'Brighter Future' in Oklahoma education.

"I want our legislators to actually listen to us," said Oklahoma Centennial Teacher, Jacob Rosecrants.

For Education Committee Chairman, Senator John Ford, the crowd's message was clear.

"We need to increase teacher pay," said Ford. "Talking to the superintendents...they're truly having trouble hiring employees that will come into the classroom, that have the qualities and capabilities of being a good teacher."

Superintendent Joy Hofmeister has proposed a five year plan that would ultimately mean more money for teachers, and more instruction days for schools.

"Teachers will be allowed to do what they do best...teach," the Superintendent explained at the rally.

The problem is finding the money to fund her plan.

"I think it's not realistic, and she believes it is not realistic to have it funded up front," said Ford. "It may be more end-funded, as we get three to four years down the road."

With the state facing that $660-million deficit, Ford says the funding will may be harder to come by in the years to come.

"I do believe that of all the state agencies that will be impacted...there will be less negative impact to education than any other group,"

That's a promise that Superintendent Hofmeister says, lawmakers have made good on before.

"When other agency budgets were cut, we weren't...we can not forget that today." said Hofmeister. "But it's not enough, we have 40,000 more kids, they deserve a first class education."

This was the second consecutive education rally for Oklahoma.

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