More than two dozen teachers, parents and children donned their walking shoes Thursday for their trek from Yukon High School to the state Capitol in an effort to put pressure on lawmakers to boost educational funding in Oklahoma.
The 14.5-mile trip took about five hours.
It was the latest effort of members of the Yukon Professional Educators Association to show solidarity with other educators who have gathered this week at the state Capitol.
The group left the high school about 7:45 a.m. and received a police escort to NW 10th Street.
They arrived at the Capitol at about 12:45 p.m., where they joined other Yukon teachers as well as educators from across the state.
Teachers have been at the Capitol since Monday, putting pressure on lawmakers.
Wednesday, the House approved legislation that would require third-party online retailers to begin charging sales tax on online purchases. The tax has been labeled the Amazon tax, although Amazon already charges taxes on products it sells.
However, that same tax has not been charged by third-party retailers who sell through Amazon.
Officials have estimated the tax could generate about $20 million per year in new revenue.
The money would be earmarked for education.
The Senate was expected to take up the action Friday.
Among those joining the teachers in their hike was Scott Hein, the principal at Lakeview Elementary.
“I am here for my teachers. I want them to know they are supported by their principal. I want to raise awareness with our legislators that our teachers have gone a long, long time without,” he said.
The principal said many legislators have shown their support for education, but others have not.
“We have great legislators who support us and some that don’t. We want to make sure that those who don’t hear our message and have these teachers get seen,” he said. “They are here for the kids, not themselves.”
Teachers were given a raise last week when Gov. Mary Fallin signed legislation that increased several taxes. However, the amount of money going into the classroom for things like new textbooks was not as much as requested by the Oklahoma Education Association, which prompted the walkout.
Hein said that is what Yukon’s teachers are walking in support of.
“They’ve already been offered a raise, but they need more for the kids. That’s what they are walking for. I’m proud to walk with them and show them my support today,” he said.
Meanwhile, Vicki Bonny, president of the YPEA, said they are making progress.
“We are going back to the Capitol today,” she said in a text Friday morning. “We would like to see the Senate pass the ball and dice and the Amazon online bill.”