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The 1981 Mariemont Teachers' Strike: A Lesson in Leadership

by Renner, James Joseph

Abstract (Summary)
The 1981 Mariemont teachers’ strike was the longest educational work stoppage in the history of American public education. More than fifty teachers made the decision to go on strike and eventually lost their jobs during this educational crisis. This dissertation reviews the history of teacher unions in the United States and the progress made by some of the significant men and women involved in the teachers’ union movement. The researcher uses an historical methodology, relying upon oral and written histories, to tell the story of the Mariemont strike. Newspaper accounts of the strike, board member diaries and journals, and notes taken by community members during the crisis were all instrumental in providing an analysis of events leading up to and during the strike, as well as the proceedings that occurred after the dismissal of more than half of the district faculty members. Present day interviews were done with fired teachers and their OEA consultant and attorney to determine why the strike occurred and why this particular group of educators was willing to risk their careers rather than return to the classroom. Interviews with a teacher who made the decision to return to the classroom, the superintendent who oversaw the crisis, the school attorney who advised the Mariemont School Board, and a board member who helped make the decision to terminate the contracts of the teachers explain why the district refused to negotiate with the teachers and the teacher union’s demand for a master contract. A reflection on how the strike impacted the lives of several participants during and following the strike will assist the reader in understanding the emotional impact and future career consequences that such a strike can cause. This dissertation is about the turmoil that can ensue when trusting relationships, honesty, and mutual respect are missing in the dialogue between teachers and administrators. A consideration will be given to the leadership practices that were in place for teachers and administrators prior to and during the strike and how they exacerbated an already tenuous situation. Suggestions are offered for an approach that might have been implemented by both parties to avoid the strike, improve teacher and administrator relationships, and practices that could have avoided the devastation experienced by all members of the Mariemont school community.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Miami University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:teacher strikes educational leadership 1981 mariemont teachers strike

ISBN:

Date of Publication:01/01/2004

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