Oklahoma's top teacher reflects on 2018 walkout - KTEN.com - Texoma news, weather and sports

Oklahoma's top teacher reflects on 2018 walkout

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Durant educator Jon Hazell says Oklahoma lawmakers need to increase funding to public schools. (KTEN) Durant educator Jon Hazell says Oklahoma lawmakers need to increase funding to public schools. (KTEN)
Thousands of Oklahoma teachers marched on the State Capitol in April, 2018. (KFOR) Thousands of Oklahoma teachers marched on the State Capitol in April, 2018. (KFOR)

DURANT, Okla. -- It's been one year since the Oklahoma teacher walkout, when educators in the Sooner State made their voices heard by the state legislature.

"We have to jump through so many hoops, you almost don't get to teach anymore... that's what bothers teachers," said Jon Hazell, a Durant educator who was named the 2017-18 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year.

The walkout resulted in the largest teacher pay raise ever in Oklahoma, ranging from $6,000 to $8,000 a year. It was the first salary hike for Oklahoma teachers in a decade.

But there is still an increased need for classroom funding, including items like textbooks and other classroom materials.

"Now the question is: Will the legislature do what's necessary to continue to get the funding back up where it needs to be?" Hazell asked. "The teacher salary was a good start, but the support personnel need help; classroom supplies need help. There's more money that needs to be put back into the formula."

Another major issue continuing to be expressed is the dramatic decrease in job applicants with full teaching credentials. 

"Oklahoma has just lost thousands and thousands of teachers in the last several years," Hazell said. "After this year is over, we will have emergency-certified around 7,000 teachers."

Although teachers say more improvements are needed, things have been moving forward after the 2018 walkout.

"I think teachers need to stay involved," Hazell said. "We're moving in the right direction talking to our legislatures, we need to be professional."

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