Respondent
Slomberg, Leah
Interview Date
1998
Abstract
Respondent educator, administrator, negotiator, born 1923.
[T1S1] Respondent provides family background: born Montefiore Hospital (Center Ave.), gives names of parents and maternal grandparents; parents born in Ostrog, Poland, immigrated to United States, notes maternal grandfather came to avoid draft in Army, comments on his family and his education Respondent gives name of brother; describes family: Orthodox; names synagogue affiliation on Hill District and attendance at Madison Elementary School; sickly child, seldom attended; adds additional schools: Herron Hill Jr. High School and Taylor Allderdice High School. Respondent discusses move from Hill District to Squirrel Hill; affiliated with B'nai Emunah Synagogue and Poale Zedeck Synagogue. Respondent reflects on scholarship to attend University of Pittsburgh; majored in accounting, changed to education in junior year on advice from brother (accountant); reflects on meeting husband Carl, their marriage and 3 children; volunteered 15 years while raising children. Respondent notes education highly valued by parents, set good examples; comments on brother's education and graduation from University of Pittsburgh. Respondent reflects on memories of Pittsburgh: street cars, manners of dress, names restaurants and tea rooms, thriving Jewish businesses in 1930s, notes during depression, families helped each other, not proper for Jewish families to accept Welfare. Respondent describes father's employment: names company; compares present Pittsburgh to Pittsburgh of the past.
[T1S2] Respondent adds information to previous tape; describes Carnegie Library Hill District, Irene Kaufmann Settlement; worked part time while at University of Pittsburgh; gives description of University's Cathedral of Learning. Respondent gives date of marriage: 1945; gives husbands family background, his education and career, their move to Squirrel Hill, 1953, lists various residences; provides names of 3 children, their spouses, grandchildren and careers, describes family intermarriages.
[T2S3] Respondent elaborates on details from previous tapes; notes as children became older she applied for teaching position; accepted at Taylor Allderdice High School: taught bookkeeping and business English using both her degrees, started 1960. Respondent discusses return to University of Pittsburgh, received masters degree in education: 1963, also certificate in counseling. Respondent describes physical structure of Taylor Allderdice High School and provides description of subjects she taught; discusses discipline then: no problem as compared to today: children anxious to learn then, parents education minded. Respondent explains position after teaching 3 ½ years: counselor; held position 2 years, then invited to become assistant director of personnel at board of education; describes building on Bellefield Ave and her responsibilities: hire business education and home economic teachers, also paraprofessionals. Respondent notes Elementary and Secondary Education Aid Act, 1966, allowed hiring paraprofessionals in elementary and secondary schools. Respondent recounts Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers (PFT): a union, many teachers joined, 1966: not like Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) a professional organization; notes many teachers not interested in joining but realized its advantages; noticed trend towards teacher contracts in other cities. Respondent gives name of law firm hired by board of education to explain process of negotiation; begins discussion of her involvement with labor relations: required travel throughout United States, notes family cooperative and supportive, describes trips to various cities. Respondent explains relationship with consulting attorney: his expertise in negotiations, but no knowledge of teachers, Respondent and attorney learned from each other, comments on Act 195, passed 1970: allowed teachers to negotiate contracts, sometimes strike, comments on contracts held by other school workers: maintenance, trades, repair personnel. Respondent discusses becoming director of employee relations, given office and staff; notes secretaries and other secretarial technical employees wanted own contracts, also paraprofessionals; gives number of contracts negotiated; comments on interesting part of work: to see that all the language agreed to was expedited; handled grievances. Respondent explains most important part of work: to give children a good education.
[T2S4] Respondent comments on two major school strikes: 1967, short, teachers wanted money rewards board of education could not provide, were given fringe benefits; major strike, 1976: describes negotiations with PFT through Albert Fondy, comments on his professionalism and fine character; describes conditions during strike: pickets at board of education; notes union wanted more money than board of education could provide. Respondent direct liaison between union and board; notes biggest challenge: negotiations; served as clearinghouse between board of education and Pennsylvania Labor Relations board. Respondent comments on civil rights movement: board hired minorities, promoted black applicants, many schools have black principals. Respondent discusses meeting with United Jewish Federation: interested in number of Jewish administrators hired by board; Respondent among few hired and felt she was token Jew; changes made in 1980s: more Jewish principals and administrators hired by board; gives reason for change: Jewish personnel good. R mentions receiving prestigious award for school administrators. Respondent reflects on busing policy: gives details; comments on Jewish holidays: teachers had to use personal days, board made changes.
[T3S5] Blank: technical difficulties, recorded on
[T4S7] Respondent adds additional information to previous tapes; reflects on transitions in schools as Pittsburgh changed: closing of steel mills, changing economy, white movement to suburbs, integration, development of middle schools. Respondent recounts other issues concerning board: white flight from city to suburbs, special education students, shift in board from being appointed to being elected; mentions involvement with professional organizations.
[T3S6] Respondent discusses PFT and Albert Fondy; comments on National Education Association (NEA) and American Federation of Teachers; feels both should join together; gives date of retirement after 25 years. Respondent describes volunteer work: Boys and Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania, Jewish Cemetery and Burial Association of Pittsburgh; Chairperson, Course Evaluation Committee, Academy of Life Long Learning: Carnegie Mellon University. Respondent details work with Boys and Girls Club; mentions travels after retirement; comments on Israel; notes involvement with National Council of Jewish Women's Friends Indeed project for 1<sup>st</sup> time offenders; reflects on life accomplishments; discusses teaching conditions today: stressful for teachers; expresses appreciation to National Council of Jewish Women for participation in oral history project.
[T4S7] No abstract for this side.
Subjects
Education; Employee-management relations; Fondy, Albert; Pennsylvania State Education Association; Pittsburgh Board of Public Education (Pa.); Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers; Pittsburgh (Pa.)--History; Pittsburgh Public Schools
Length (hours)
3
Interviewer1
Berns, Barbara
Interviewer2
Leib, Cindy Goodman
Indexer
Berger, Betty
Collateral Materials
Box 106 FF 31
Identifier
ais196440.439
Rights
All rights reserved. University of Pittsburgh