Newspaper, Women’s Education

This article reflects a more complex example of state-controlled media. It is more negative in tone, by providing examples of problems in daily life, including shortages of housing and food, unequal treatment at work, and lack of services for families. Once again, the intention is to assert the achievements of the Soviet regime while also referring to problems that needed to be overcome through even greater efforts. In this case, however, the article also seeks to attribute blame for these problems to specific individuals, offices, or practices that could be made accountable. Women continued to bear a disproportionate burden of family responsibilities, and the actual availability of maternity leave, services for new mothers, and child care fell short of promises and propaganda. In this article, a schoolteacher writes to the main educational newspaper to complain about treatment by her school director, who is not upholding regulations.

Source: Za kommunisticheskoe prosveshchenie, “School No. 130 Follows its own Law,” February 6, 1937.

In the Soviet Union, the rights of mothers and children are strictly protected by the law. For example, in addition to a four month maternity leave, every working mother has the right to take breaks during work for nursing until the infant reaches the age of nine months. But it seems that the administration of school 130 in the Soviet district of Moscow considers that this rule does not apply to its school.

I have worked as a teacher for nine years, and am in my first year at school 130. Returning from maternity leave, I placed my infant in a nursery school. At first, I was able to nurse him regularly, every three hours. But because I could not nurse my infant during the break between classes (20 minutes), I was always late by 10-15 minutes.

These minutes of tardiness were not absences, because I have the right to an additional half-hour besides these 20 minutes for nursing my infant. But the head of instruction and the school director, after repeated warnings, have ordered me to either stop nursing my infant or quit working in the school, because they consider that the class (42 pupils) cannot and should not be left without a teacher for even a minute.

I completely agree with the orders of the head of instruction and the school director that pupils should not be left without a leader for even the shortest amount of time. But it does not follow from this that I, as a teacher-mother, am not able to lead the children in lessons.

This unequal battle has resulted in the victory of the school administration. Despite the orders of a doctors, I had to stop nursing my infant and switch to artificial food, which quickly had a negative effect on the child’s health.

I consider that the approach to me taken by the head of instruction and the school director demonstrates an unwillingness to let a teacher-mother have normal conditions for bringing up a healthy infant.

It is possible to find a solution to this situation that does not harm the children and does not violate Soviet law by providing a substitute during this break or by drafting a schedule so that the pupils have another teacher after three hours.

I love the work of teaching and do not want to give it up because of this temporary condition. In the current situation, I demand only that the administration of school 130 provide a little flexibility and human sympathy, so that I can continue working and bringing up my infant normally.