Teachers union announces end of Oklahoma walkout - KTEN.com - Texoma news, weather and sports

Teachers union announces end of Oklahoma walkout

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OEA president Alicia Priest announces an end to the statewide teacher walkout. (KFOR) OEA president Alicia Priest announces an end to the statewide teacher walkout. (KFOR)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The head of Oklahoma's largest teachers union is calling for an end to a teacher walkout that has shuttered schools for nine days after Republican leaders said they will not provide any more new revenue for public schools.

Oklahoma Education Association President Alicia Priest said Thursday it is time for teachers to shift their focus to electing pro-education candidates to the Legislature.

Priest made the comments to reporters Thursday after teachers and their supporters marched on the Capitol for a second consecutive week.

"Each and every one who has marched at the Capitol, written e-mails, made calls, and worked in so many ways in their own communities should be overwhelmed with price," Priest said. "You have achieved a historic victory for our students, and it shouldn't have to be historic. The biggest financial victory in history for our students."

She noted that the efforts of educators over the past nine days has brought in $479 million in funding for Oklahoma schools, but added that the state's education budget had been subject to bigger cuts than any other state.

Gov. Mary Fallin tweeted her approval of the teachers' decision to end their walkout.

The Republican-controlled Legislature passed a series of tax hikes to fund a $6,100 average teacher pay raise and more funding for schools, but teachers walked out anyway.

State Rep. Pat Ownbey (R-District 48) said the OEA's move to end the walkout is a step in the right direction.

"Should there be more? I think education needs more funding," he said. "But doing it all in one year is, you know... it's just unrealistic."

Ownbey added that he hopes supporters of public education will keep this dialog going.

KTEN's Emily Akins in Denison and McKenna Eubank in Ardmore contributed to this report.

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