Oklahoma State Superintendent visits Durant

Published: Jul. 17, 2019 at 6:50 PM CDT
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Some of the teachers who attended Engage OK at Durant High School say they are satisfied with changes in Oklahoma education, but there is still work to be done to help teachers in the state.

"Teachers, we definitely have a voice now and we've been heard," said Broken Bow High School science teacher Jimmie Wyrick.

Wyrick has been teaching in Oklahoma for 16 years, he says he has noticed an improvement in the quality of education at his school since the teacher walkouts across the state last year.

"The legislators are really focused on what we have to say now, as opposed to 'hey this is what we want and this is how its going to be.' I think we're getting a little more input in that," said Wyrick.

Oklahoma teachers have seen an average pay raise of $7300 over the last two years, putting the average annual pay at $52,000. In Texas it's $54,000.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister says there's still a teacher shortage, but this year there were 1100 more teachers than last year.

With the pay raise, she believes teachers will be more inclined to stay in Oklahoma education, as well as recruiting new teachers out of college.

"We're ready to take and receive any of those educators right here in Oklahoma classrooms. Again, this is not something that turns around in one year," said Hofmeister.

Wilburton Middle School principal Kyle Vanderburg says the extra pay has helped keep teachers but he also wants to see more money go into the classrooms to help with teaching.

"The school funding matter has been addressed to an extent this legislative session, but we still have work to do," said Vanderburg.

"This year the governor and our state legislators said 'alright, we're going to make a new investment with new $75 million just for the classroom. So we're starting to see the investment return in public education," (Hofmeister)

Hofmeister will make two more stops in Oklahoma over the next week as a part of Engage OK on the road.

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