Ramsey County History – Summer 2008: “Strike for Better Schools: The St. Paul Public Schools Teachers’ Strike of 1946”

Cheryl Carlson

Strike for Better Schools: The St. Paul Public Schools Teachers’ Strike of 1946
Author: Cheryl Carlson

The story of the first teachers’ strike in the US carried out by 1,165 St. Paul educators. The background causes included the lack of support for public schools, partly because around a third of all students were in parochial schools. At that time, the Saint Paul City Council ran the schools, and, for decades, there had been had low per capita financing. The students had to buy their own textbooks. Along with allies, the teachers tried earlier to get amendments to the city charter to reform the situation, but they were all defeated. The separate Men’s and Women’s Federations gave notice of their intent to strike and November 25, 1946, pickets appeared in front of the school buildings. The city council finally agreed to support an amendment to separate school finances from the city budget and, after the charter commission agreed, the teachers returned to work on December 28, 1946. The charter changes were passed in 1947, and a school board was soon established. The historic strike had a national impact. There is a sidebar on Mary McGough and Lettisha Henderson, two of the important Federation leaders.
PDF of Carlson article