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Image WASB Logo celebrating 100 yearsThe 1970s

As the war in Vietnam began to wane, the United States’ attention turned to the Middle East, where OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) became an acronym that riled up Americans. While gas lines formed in 1973, Congress dug deeper into Watergate — named to describe the June 1972 break in at the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate Hotel, which eventually led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation.
During the decade, the Patty Hearst kidnapping, the Kent State shooting, the publishing of the Pentagon Papers, the Three Mile Island meltdown, and the drug deaths of rock stars Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin shook the nation. Meanwhile, television viewers watched the Fonz immortalize Milwaukee, Monday Night Football make its debut, and George Carlin host the first “Saturday Night Live” while movie-goers visited a galaxy far, far away. Mark Spitz swam into history with a record seven Olympic gold medals, the first “test-tube baby” was born and Bruce Springsteen proved he was born to run.

Image WASB Poll

At the 50th State Education Convention in 1971, school board members complete a WASB poll. During the decade, the services, trainings and publications of the association rapidly expanded, particularly in the areas of legal and policy services.

  • 1970: The WASB offices expand and move to 122 W. Washington Ave. in Madison, the present location of the main office.
  • 1970: The WASB and the Wisconsin School Public Relations Association sponsor the first joint communications workshop for schools.
  • 1971: The WASB, in cooperation with a group of school attorneys, form the Wisconsin School Attorneys Association, whose members must be serving a school board in some legal capacity.
  • 1972: Delegates oppose subsidizing non-public schools through a voucher system.
  • 1975: The newly built Milwaukee Exposition and Convention Center and Arena hosts the State Education Convention with an all-time high of 121 exhibitors.
  • 1979: Wisconsin has 433 school districts (432 are WASB members).

WASB Presidents

1970 – Paul Bjerke – Eau Claire
1971 – Charle Lewis – Shell Lake
1972 – Alan Dale – Beloit
1973 – Frank Woodworth – Beaver Dam
1974 – Margaret Dinges – Milwaukee
1975 – Ernest C. Gay – Owen-Withee
1976 – Alvin Goninen – Mineral Point
1977 – Paul A. Hahn – Albany
1978 – Ruth C. Schmidt – Elkhart Lake
1979 – Rulo Clark – Elkhorn

Our State
  • 1970: Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson organizes the first Earth Day on April 22.
  • 1971: With youngster Lew Alcindor — later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — and veteran Oscar Robertson — the “Big O” — leading the way, the Milwaukee Bucks win the only National Basketball Association title in franchise history.
  • 1972: The Wisconsin Legislature passes a law requiring an environmental impact statement for all legislation affecting the environment.
  • 1973: Barbara Thompson becomes the first woman elected as State Superintendent.
  • 1974: The Hortonville School Board fires 86 striking teachers, a decision later upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • 1975: The Edmund Fitzgerald sinks during a November gale, killing all 29 crew members on “the big lake they called Gitche Gumee.”
  • 1976: A federal district court orders Milwaukee Public Schools to integrate.
  • 1976: Shirley Abrahamson begins her 43 years of service on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the longest in court history. She was the first woman on the court and the first woman to serve as its chief justice.
  • 1977: State employees strike for the first time in Wisconsin history and mediation-arbitration legislation passes,
    dramatically altering the contract bargaining process.
  • 1979: Vel Phillips takes office as the Secretary of State, becoming Wisconsin’s first black constitutional office holder.
  • 1979: The last one-room school district in Wisconsin closes.
Our Nation
  • 1970: The Environmental Protection Agency begins operation.
  • 1972: President Nixon visits China and Russia and is reelected, trouncing Sen. George McGovern by over 18 million votes.
  • 1973: Three hundred members of the Oglala Lakota tribe and supporters of the American Indian Movement take over the community of Wounded Knee, S.D., for 71 days, with a list of grievances ranging from broken treaties to tribal governance.
  • 1974: Despite racist threats, Hank Aaron hits his 715th career home run to take the all-time record away from the “Great Bambino,” baseball legend Babe Ruth.
  • 1975: Congress enacts the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, promising a 40% reimbursement to states.
  • 1976: Alex Haley’s “Roots” is published and TV viewers watch the following year as Kunta Kinte’s drama unfolds from Middle Passage to emancipation.
  • 1977: Volkswagen announces it will no longer make the iconic Beetle.
  • 1978: Groundbreaking anthropologist Margaret Mead dies of cancer at 76.
  • 1979: Students in Tehran, Iran storm the U.S. Embassy and take 66 hostages. The siege lasts 444 days, ending on the day of Ronald Reagan’s inauguration.
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