Ken Tilp was a high school teacher of Latin and French for 21 years before becoming president of the Iowa State Education Association for four years. He then worked for the Michigan Education Association for fourteen years, retiring in 2004.
It’s the 50th anniversary of a significant change in the West Des Moines, Iowa, school district personnel policy manual: teachers were no longer required to tell their building principal as soon as they found out they were pregnant.
The school board authorized a committee to review personnel policy, comprised of Bruce Graves, a school board member and young, progressive lawyer; Assistant Superintendent Mel Antrim (known to the elementary teachers as "Apple ass Antrim"); and Ken Tilp, 7th year teacher of Latin and president of the 300-member teachers association.
Catch this: during our discussion about why the requirement should be removed, Antrim said something along the lines of, “Well, I don’t know if I want my child sitting in a classroom with a teacher’s water breaking."
When I reported it to the 9th grade staff during our lunch time the following day, Jan (a science teacher who was then pregnant) remarked, ”I don’t know. It might be a good experience for the kids."
Significant progress, allowing women to wear slacks at West Des Moines public schools, came in fits and starts a bit later.
Top photo: Phenix Elementary School building in West Des Moines, Iowa, originally published on the now-defunct school's Facebook page.