Unsatisfactory? The Evaluation Fight of 1985

When it comes to school evaluations, student grades by teachers probably come to mind. However, the winter of 1985 saw the teachers of the Boston Teachers Union (BTU) confront a very different kind of assessment: the Boston Public School (BPS) administration and its evaluation of its teaching staff. The cartoon below, published in the January 1985 issue of the Boston Union Teacher, captured the problem: busybody administrators and superintendents looking for reasons to fail teachers and keeping them from educating children. What was going on that school year and how did teacher evaluations play a role?

Time to Eat! The Right to a Duty-Free Lunch

Just a few quiet minutes to yourself to eat lunch, every day – everyone deserves that, right? Well, for decades Boston educators, especially elementary school teachers, did not have a guaranteed right to a duty-free lunch.

That’s why the BTU made it one of their earliest contract demands.

The calls for a duty-free lunch started early. The Boston Union Teacher newspaper for December 1963 included “duty-free lunch” in a list of topics to discuss at an upcoming membership meeting at the Hotel Bradford. (Side-note: The same issue contained a touching memorial to John F. Kennedy, whose sudden assassination shocked the world only the month before on November 22, 1963.)

Lunchbox 1980s” via Wikimedia Commons (Greg Mote from Los Angeles, USA, CC BY 2.0)