Education: Local No. i

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Local No. 1

As he closed his desk in Chicago's Bowen High School one day last March and made ready to go home, Principal William T. McCoy, whose work had only a few days before been commended by Chicago's Superintendent William H. Johnson, received a curt message from the superintendent ordering him to report next morning at an elementary school with a $700 reduction in salary. Not long after, Superintendent Johnson announced a new eligible list for principals. Of the 155 successful candidates on the examination, 128 had come from Loyola University, where Superintendent Johnson teaches. Of the 15 principals promptly appointed from this list, one was Board of Education President James B. McCahey's sister, Marie McCahey, who had previously failed in three tests for a high-school teaching license. Several others were relatives of city officials. Soon the Chicago Board of Education was defending three suits charging violation of the merit system.

Last week these professional sparks had ignited a conflagration that threatened to consume the educational branch of Chicago's notorious Kelly-Nash city administration. What payless pay days and hunger (TIME, March 7, 1932 et seq.) had failed to do—unite Chicago's warring teachers' organizations—the rankling McCoy and McCahey episodes had accomplished.

Before 3,500 people in Chicago's huge Civic Opera House last week, the Men's Teachers Union, Federation of Women High School Teachers. Elementary Teachers Union and Playground Teachers Union dissolved, buried their differences, received from Irvin R. Kuenzli. secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of Teachers, a charter as the Chicago Teachers Union. Local No. 1 of the Federation. With 6,500 members, one-half the total teaching staff of Chicago's public schools. the largest and most powerful teachers' union in the U. S. was born.

After speeches, songs and organ music, up rose Local No. 1's acting president, John M. Fewkes, 38, to defy the Board of Education. Informing the audience that a board stenographer was taking notes, he shouted: 'T hope they get an earful." He proceeded to pledge the new union to drive the "spoils system" out of Chicago's schools. Shaking his fist, he cried: ''Let them fire 6,500 of us!"

Thus aligned against their Board of Education for the first time, half of Chicago's teachers were embarked on an ambitious crusade, in which the restoration of the merit system was only one aim. Still suffering from a 22% pay cut, the teachers were out to gain the salary restorations that nearly every other major U. S. city has already made to teachers. They were out also to repair the butchery of the Chicago school system—denounced by such Titans in education as University of Chicago's President Robert Maynard Hutchins and Dean Charles Hubbard Judd —which has gained for Chicago's schools the reputation of being the poorest and most expensive in the U. S. Of the $52,000,000 budget this year, only $35,000,000 went for instruction. Struck down in the past few years have been kindergartens, continuation schools, the junior college, junior high schools, manual training, domestic science and physical training in elementary schools. In one-half the elementary schools children have only drinking fountains to wash their hands in.

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