Monday, May 26, 2003

Ohio Moments

Teacher union started with tax, tenure goals

On May 26, 1934, the first Ohio State Federation of Teachers convention was held in Springfield.

The American Federation of Teachers had met there the year before and decided to establish the Ohio group as an experiment.

The Ohio federation focused on establishing a state income tax to fund public education. It also advocated a law that would grant tenure to teachers. Until then, a superintendent could fire a teacher at will. Another goal was to establish a 10-month school year. At the time, the National Manufacturers Association called for reducing the school year and limiting elementary education to six years and secondary education to three.

At the 1934 convention, Irvin Kuenzli, executive secretary of the AFT, was elected president of the Ohio federation. The state group's first executive secretary was Clyde E. Kiker, a teacher in Toledo. The following year, Kiker was fired without a hearing by the Toledo superintendent. The charge was radicalism. The Ohio federation, with help from Toledo's labor movement, succeeded in getting Kiker reinstated in 1936.

The current teacher-tenure law in Ohio conforms to the ideas set forth in the bill drafted for the legislature by Kuenzli and Kiker in 1937.

- Rebecca Goodman

E-mail or call (513) 768-8361.

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