Hundreds of Poncans head to the capital for Education Rally today

Ponca City Now - March 31, 2014 8:52 am

400 school board members, teachers and parents from Ponca City are making their way to the state capitol today.

The Oklahoma Education Coalition is hosting a Rally for Education.

Dr. David Pennington, Ponca City School Board superintendent said budget will be a topic.

Despite an increase of 40,000 students since 2008, schools are operating with $200 million fewer dollars in the state’s funding formula and 1,500 less teachers.

The coalition says state funding for public education has faced greater per pupil cuts than any other state.

Gov. Mary Fallin says she supports more funding for public education.

According to the Associated Press last year she signed a budget bill that included $120 million in new education money.

She’s proposed another $50 million funding increase.

They will also talk about other issues too.

“Then, the other part of the rally is to just change the conversation," Pennington said. "The last few years we’ve had several pieces of legislation that have been enacted that those of us who are educators don’t feel like they are in the best interest of public schools or the children that we serve. Probably the most well known of those laws would be the third grade retention law, which sounds good on paper. We are going to retain third graders that don’t read on grade level, but we completely take parents and educators out of that decision and we don’t think that’s right.”

Testing will also be discussed because parents said it’s taking away from subjects like, art, music and P.E.

Pennington said he thinks these subjects are important because they help students find interest and hobbies.

Ponca City has switched the March 31 snow day to today, so employees can go.

“This rally is for everybody that is concerned about education in Oklahoma," Pennington said. "We’re hoping to have a large turnout of parents and business people. I mean anybody who is concerned about the direction that we are headed in this state, which everybody should be concerned.”

More than 25,000 educators and parents are expected to be at the capitol.


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