MUSKOGEE, Okla. (KTUL) — "I'm not an option, I'm a priority! I'm not an option, I'm a priority!" chanted the crowd of students in front of Muskogee High School Thursday.
As protests for education funding intensify, so too is the amount of focus being placed on the oil and gas industry.
"They're going to drill where the oil is, they're not going to go drill in Illinois, there's no oil there," said teacher Mike Walcutt.
Many lawmakers blamed the low oil and gas tax rate of as one of the reasons they opposed the most recent legislative effort to increase education funding.
"I want to go into politics," said Muskogee sophomore Mason Page. He might one day be one of those lawmakers and already has an oil and gas tax rate proposal.
"We should put in there that we have, a 5% tax on oil and gas; we should raise it to 5%," Page said.
"To the oil and gas folks, please look at us, please see the hope in our eyes, please see that we want to go somewhere in life and that we need your help to do it," said junior Raylynn Thompson.
"My message to the lawmakers is for them to wake up because our needs are far more important than their greed right now," said junior Starr Osborne.
Drilling down on a message of funding and fast as teachers struggle with the persistent feeling of coming up empty.
"A teacher covers kids' bodies in the middle of a tornado in Moore and we're heroes, or we stand between kids and gunman and we're heroes. We ask for a living wage? No, not so much," said Walcutt.