“There has never been a teacher’s strike in North Dakota’s history, according to Wetzel.” This is a sentence from the Sunday June 9 edition of The Forum in an article on the growing trend of teacher strikes around the country.

Dale Wetzel is identified in the article as the spokesperson for the North Dakota State Department of Instruction. It’s ironic to me that the person speaking for the Department of Instruction of North Dakota would be so ignorant of history in the state that employs him. A simple web search yields information on the teacher strike in Minot in 1969, which was recalled in an April 8 2019 US News and World Report posting.

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I’m assuming that the reporter quoted Wetzel correctly. If so, this is another instance of important history being forgotten by someone who really should know better. In fact, I would argue that it is his job to know better.

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I was 7 years old when the strike happened. Growing up in Mandan, I heard about the strike and remembered the controversy it created. I would hope employees of the Department of Public Instruction would take some time to become familiar with the important history of labor relations directly related to their work.

Whatever position you take on the legality of public employees’ ability to go on strike, the Minot story shows that teachers will respond to onerous working conditions if driven too far, regardless of the law. Teachers were put in jail and fired for striking. Pretty important history to be familiar with if you are working in education or reporting on teacher labor relations issues in North Dakota.