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The History of our Public Schools
Wyandotte County, Kansas

1844
2012

 

 

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Married Teachers in Education

Do we have married women teachers in 2005? Of course. Do any of us give up even a moment's time thinking about whether they should be working because they are married? I can't imagine anyone who would. But the fact remains, that at one time this was an extremely big issue relative to a woman working in the field of education. However, the freedom to teach, regardless of one's marital status, came in relatively recent times.

Although school teaching is one of the few professions into which women made early inroads, the fact that school boards demanded unmarried women as teachers necessarily made teaching something of a temporary job on the road to matrimony for many. In the 1850s, women simply assumed they would teach until they were married. In 1861, women were granted the right to vote in school board election, but this did not help change the laws regarding married women in the classroom.

In the late nineteenth century, proscriptions against married women working outside the home prevented the most prosperous from engaging in paid work. Especially in large city schools, married women were often barred from the classroom, and women with children were denied a place in schools.

15th Annual Report of the Board of Education of the City of Kansas City, Kansas for the year Ending June 30, 1901:  p. 68, Section 16 of the Rules and Regulations - Hereafter the Board of Education of Kansas City, Kansas will not employ married women as teachers.  This section does not contemplace the dismissal, except for causes previously mentioned, of married teachers at present in the employ of the Board.

Just as other areas of business and industry make accommodations in their rules/operations during war time, it seems as though the educational system makes exceptions/changes also, as evidenced by the article from the Kansan, 20 August 1918.

"MARRIED WOMEN MAY TEACH
Board of Education Modified Former Ruling Last Night

Married teachers who taught through the school year of 1916-17, or have taught since as regular or substitute teachers, may continue teaching throughout the duration of the war in the regular salary classification, according to a resolution adopted by the Board of Education last night.

This resolution is a modification of the board of education ruling reading: 'Hereafter the board of education will not employ married women as teachers.' The modification has been made in order that teachers who have married soldiers who are leaving will be allowed to continue teaching until after the war. Such a ruling has been accepted generally throughout the United States in order to increase the teaching force. The matter is handled in various ways in the different localities. The board of education of Kansas City , Mo. , classifies the married teachers as substitute and not regular teachers but puts them in the same salary classification. The Kansas City , Kansas ruling makes them eligible for employment either as teachers or substitute teachers."

As late as the 1930s, 77% of school districts employed no married women as new teachers and 62% required teachers to resign if they married. (Moviegoers in the 1930s saw nothing unusual about Little Rascals' teacher Miss McGillicuddy who had to resign in order to get married.) Before World War I, teachers in many small communities dared not go to the theatre. Card playing and dancing were also forbidden. As late as 1929, a Kansas board of education fired eleven high school teachers for attending a local country club dance. The breakdown of social controls that followed both World Wars granted teachers a degree of freedom in their personal habits that formerly would have been decried. 

Only a Teacher - PBS Teaching Timeline

Kansas City, Kansas
1886 Kansas City, Kansas Public School System, 1886 by Nellie McGuinn
1887 1886 rule on married teachers rescinded.  Beginning on June 6, 1887, the board hired married women, and declared in July that the rule to employ them was permanent.
1894-95 Hereafter the Board of Education of Kansas City, Kansas will not employ as teachers married women who have husbands dependent upon them for support.
1902-03 Hereafter the Board of Education of Kansas City, Kansas will not employ married women as teachers.  This section does not contemplate the dismissal, except for causes previously mentioned, of married teachers at present in the employ of the Board.
1933-34 It is understood that the Board of Education does not employ married women as teachers, or continue in employment women teachers who shall marry during the school year.  In case a woman teacher marries she agrees to give immediate notice thereof in writing to the Superintendent of Schools of the Board of Education, and in case of such marriage her employment shall cease and she shall have no right to any wages for any teaching she may do after her marriage.
1938-40

The Board of Education does not employ married women as teachers and women teachers who marry during the school year are not continued in employment.  In case a woman teacher marries she agrees to give immediate notice in writing to the Superintendent of Schools of the Board of Education and in case of such marriage, employment shall cease.

Josephine Vandiver Boone of KCKs related to us that during her teaching enture in the middle 1940s, female teachers who married could be transferred or fired.  When she married Mr. Vandiver, she was transferred from Kealing School to Stowe School,

1952-53 Contracts for the employment of women teachers are subject to cancellation at the discretion of the Board of Education on the marriage of such teachers.  In case a woman teacher marries, she agrees to give immediate notice in writing to the Superintendent of Schools.
1963-64 Any legal change in name of said teacher, as a consequence of court action, marriage, or other shall cause shall be reported to the Superintendent of Schools within ten (10) days of such change.

Rules for Female Teachers

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Contact the History Webmaster - Patricia Adams

History Site created on December 02, 2002
Page last updated: 23-Apr-2014

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