Wilbur Wright teachers have gone to ball games
together, fished together, and have even gone to funerals together. One
weekend, we went to jail together.
The 1978 Dayton Teachers' Strike was both a divisive and adhesive
situation for those who worked at the school. Many relationships between
teachers were completely altered because of the strike. Some swore never
again to speak to a former friend who had crossed the picket line to
teach. Teachers who did not honor the picket line were known as "scabs"
and were subjected to verbal abuse each day as they crossed the picket
line past their striking colleagues. The strikers who were actively
involved in picketing developed a camaraderie much like those who have
been in combat together.
The Wilbur Wright principal and assistant principals courageously gave
their public support to the striking teachers. They could have been fired
or transferred, but they did what they felt was right. Once when a party
-was held during the strike, those same Wilbur Wright administrators made
signs and humorously picketed the house where the party was held.
After a court order telling teachers to go back to the classroom, Wilbur
Wright strikers knew that they might go to jail if they violated that
court order. Still, many teachers carried their strike signs in front of
the school. The police cars and paddy wagons arrived shortly after 7:00
A.M. on Tuesday, September 2, 1978.
Fourteen Wilbur Wright teachers were loaded on a paddy wagon and taken to
the city jail. One teacher arriving late ran down the street so that he
might be included in the arrest.
The teachers were released on bond later in the day but were later
sentenced to two weekends in the county jail. One weekend was suspended if
they wrote an essay. Most of the essays were critical of a system that
jailed teachers for doing what workers in the private sector could do
The president of D.E.A. and two Wilbur Wright teachers spent a second
weekend in jail for picketing at the bus barn. Another Wilbur Wright
teacher and two custodians also spent a weekend in jail for demonstrating
at the bus barn. There were almost as many jailed from Wilbur Wright as
from the rest of the city schools combined.
On the Friday the teachers were scheduled to begin their sentences, a
Wilbur Wright teacher known for his gastronomical skills, prepared a
gourmet breakfast for the future convicts. He spent many hours and dollars
to demonstrate his feelings for friends and colleagues. The principal
provided the champagne. Some say that strikes are divisive. At Wilbur
Wright this' was not the case.
A rally was held at Courthouse Square. Over five hundred teachers from
Dayton and surrounding schools, plus the president of OEA showed their
support by following the convicted teachers from the courthouse to the
county jail. (Continued on next page)