Lessons from the 1978 teachers strike in Fresno: Bonds, trust will suffer

  • by:
  • Source: EdSource
  • 10/09/2023
Nearly 45 years ago, in the fall of 1978, teachers across Fresno Unified stood at the gates of their schools, rather than in front of dozens of students in the classroom. They’d made a decision to participate in what is still the district’s only strike in history.

Students were no longer with the teachers they’d grown to know. They had to contend with substitute teachers or administrators who gave them packets of work in combined classrooms or in the cafeteria.

As the two-week-long strike continued, some teachers returned to their classrooms, while others, with signs in hand, remained on strike to demand better working conditions.

“At many schools, it was very traumatic, especially for the younger ones,” retired teacher Barbara Mendes said. Mendes, 84, was the teachers union representative at Lane Elementary and had been teaching for about three years when she and others went on strike in 1978.

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