This film is part of Free

Teachers Crisis

Forced to work in a tavern to supplement his poor wages, a teacher pours a customer’s beer then marks homework at the bar, in this hard-hitting look at the US education crisis in 1947

Documentary 1947 16 mins


An overworked teacher quits her job on the spot, while outside a school in Buffalo a picket line demonstrates in the snow for higher wages, in this impassioned call for the reform of America’s public school system, from March of Time. Even in 1947, teachers were still expected to adhere to surprisingly old-fashioned social attitudes: the scene where a young female teacher is reprimanded for accepting a glass of beer at a party shows that low pay was not the only reason for a profession in crisis.

By 1947 American teachers - over-worked and underpaid - were leaving the profession in droves. This film demonstrates how the campaigning work of unions such as the National Education Association was finally bringing the problem to the attention of the press and the federal government. Classroom situations lend themselves well to dramatic re-enactment and the March of Time has fun in this issue, presenting a number of entertaining scenarios to demonstrate the effects of the crisis. Particularly enjoyable is the scene in which an enraged schoolmistress reacts with furious spite to being put right by a young pupil, who corrects her teacher’s pronunciation of ‘Arkansas’.