Ada — For Sen. Susan Paddack, the people who participated in an education rally in Oklahoma City represented democracy in action.
Paddack said she was thrilled to see so many people converge on Oklahoma City to ask lawmakers to earmark more money for K-12 schools.
“It was the way government should work,” she said Friday. “There should be people at the Capitol. There should be people saying, ‘This is what we want.’”
Paddack was referring to a March 31 rally at the Oklahoma Capitol, which drew about 25,000 teachers, students and other people. Participants urged lawmakers to pump more money into public schools and take steps to reduce class sizes.
Paddack and her counterpart in the Oklahoma House, Rep. Todd Thomsen, talked about the education rally and other topics during a legislative luncheon at Pontotoc Technology Center. Ada Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the meeting as a way to update people on state issues.
The Oklahoma Education Coalition estimates appropriations to public schools are roughly $200 million less than in 2009, even though Oklahoma has about 40,000 more public-school students now.
Paddack said Friday she thought the rally would help shape the Legislature’s debate over school spending.
“I think there’s a growing awakening of the need to address that, and I certainly think the rally emphasized that,” she said. “Now, a lot could happen between now and the end of May. But I know there are people really trying to get some more dollars for education that have been more vocal than they have in the past.”
Thomsen said the rally could encourage more people to pressure the Legislature to increase state aid to schools.
“I think the hope that you can have out of that is that you slowly turn the tide and build a stronger majority of people that are advocating for it,” he said.