THE STRIKE

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 'With impunity.

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)

 

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