Tulsa Public Schools teacher recalls 1989 education rally in Oklahoma City, House Bill 1017

TULSA - The education rally at Oklahoma's capitol Monday is not the first in the name of education. 

A similar rally 25 years ago led to reforms in education. 

PHOTO GALLERY: Thousands rally for education funding at state Capitol

Lawmakers pushed through landmark legislation to reform education in 1990, when Gov. Henry Bellmon was in office. 

House Bill 1017 reformed teacher pay, restricted class sizes and boosted early childhood education. 

Emily Wood, 88, who attended the rally more than two decades ago, remembers how the community pushed for changed. 

"I'm looking back and I'm remembering how [HB] 1017 was so wonderful," the Tulsa teacher said. "It can work, and I'm confident it will work again." 

Wood still teaches part-time at Tulsa Public Schools and says she'll continue to fight for education until her years are up. 

"I think of all our great strides that have come from people coming together," Wood said. 

Wood says Monday's education rally at the state capitol signifies that education is important to Oklahomans. 

"I think this is one of the most important things in the state of Oklahoma and I have confidence, deep confidence, that our legislators would do the right thing," Wood said. 

Over the years, teachers claim provisions of HB 1017 have been slowly ripped apart.

"We need smaller class sizes," Wood said. "We need adequate pay. So this is a great day when teachers have come together." 

Just as Wood rallied for change more than two decades ago, she hopes the show of unity now will again raise one voice to change Oklahoma education for the better. 

"It gives me great hope in Oklahoma. It gives me great hope in democracy," Wood said. 

Oklahoma continues to rank near the bottom in education funding. Emily along with countless teachers, students and parents hope the more than 25,000 people at Monday Rally will change the staggering statistic.

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