Letter: ‘Good old days’ weren’t so great for young teachers

Regarding “Warren perpetuates myth of her pregnancy firing” (Oct. 27): The letter writer is obviously much younger than Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

I began teaching in Hazelwood School District in 1972 at age 21. Women were not allowed to teach during their pregnancies, other than to complete their current semester. One can call it being fired, terminated or laid off, but continuing to teach was not an option. Most women could not return to teaching after their child’s birth because daycare centers didn’t accept infants, and a teacher’s salary was too low to afford private child care. By the late 1970s, unpaid maternity leave for up to a year became standard, daycare centers expanded their programs to include infants, and pregnant teachers could decide when to start their maternity leave.

Younger readers might be surprised to know that teachers’ contracts also included a morality clause. A teacher could be terminated for living with someone of the opposite sex without the benefit of marriage, being pregnant and unmarried, or for being homosexual. Female teachers had to wear dresses, but eventually were allowed to wear pantsuits. I suspect most of my colleagues don’t consider those years to be the “good old days.”

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