J-L

Kline Laura

Laura Kline

 

Born Yetta Leah Amias in 1917 in the east end of London, into a loving Jewish Orthodox home, she found `gentle rebellion’ from a young age. At 13 she cajoled her father, a Jewish minister, into legally changing her name to Laura.

 

In the 1930s, Laura saw communism as a way of responding to anti-semitism. She became school secretary to GCT Giles (see separate entry), the Communist head teacher of Acton county school in west London. That role, in Laura's words, "awakened her desire to teach", and she qualified through the wartime emergency teacher training scheme. In 1945, Laura married the equally militant Cecil Kline, who worked for the Daily Worker.

 

Laura Kline recognised educational discrimination against black children at a time when many of those running local education did not. She was never afraid to be different, and this was her distinct contribution after years of mainstream teaching.

 

After years in mainstream teaching, Laura became head of Catford Education Centre, in south London, which she described as being "focused on newly arrived Caribbean children". In fierce exchanges with the local director of education, she criticised the council's failure to give these children the support they needed. Her mission continued in a special centre for children with behavioural problems.

 

In late life, Laura and Cecil drifted out of the Communist Party, but continued to stand up for the disadvantaged. In retirement, Laura joined the women's network Growing Old Disgracefully, set up a Jung philosophy group and enjoyed creative writing, eventually penning a novel, due to posthumously published. Cecil died in 2003 and Laura died aged 93 in 2011.

 

Guardian 3rd March 2011