Tom Mooney (educator)

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Tom Mooney
Born (1954-09-12)September 12, 1954
Died December 3, 2006(2006-12-03) (aged 52)
Columbus, Ohio, United States
Cause of death Heart attack
Nationality American
Education Bachelor's degree
Alma mater Antioch College
Occupation Labor leader, teacher
Known for Presidency of Ohio Federation of Teachers
Board member of National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
Spouse(s) Virginia Rhodes, Debbie Schneider
Children Ruairi Rhodes, Leilah Mooney
Parent(s) Don Mooney Sr & Marguerite Mooney
Relatives Don Mooney Jr, Tina Mooney & Lee Mooney (siblings)

Tom Mooney (September 12, 1954 – December 3, 2006) was an American and public school teacher.

Early life[edit]

Mooney grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and graduated with a bachelor's degree from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio in 1974.


Tom's mother, Marguerite Mooney, and his late father, Don Mooney Sr., had three other children, Don Mooney Jr. and Tina Mooney, both living in Cincinnati, and Lee Mooney, of Philadelphia.


Early career[edit]

Mooney began his career as an educator teaching high school government in Cincinnati, Ohio, and quickly became active in the American Federation of Teachers local affiliate there.

Union work[edit]

Mooney was elected President of the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers, Local 1520 of the AFT, AFL-CIO, at age 24, was re-elected many times, serving from 1979 to 2000.

In 1990, Mooney was elected a vice president of the AFT. He served on the AFT's executive council, the governing body of the national union, and in 1998 became part of the council's executive committee—a body of executive council members close to the president of the AFT, which advises the president and debates and formulates policy before bringing it to the council. On the executive council, Mooney served on the human rights and community relations, organizing, and affiliate accountability committees. He was also chair of the "program and policy council" for the union's teacher division.

In 2000 he became president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers.

Mooney was member of the Board of Directors of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and the Albert Shanker Institute. He was also a founding member of the Teacher Union Reform Network (TURN) and of what was renamed in his honor, the Mooney Institute for Teacher and Union Leadership.

Mooney's approach to teacher unionism emphasized the union's role as the professional voice of teachers. As chair of the AFT's Professional Issues Committee, Mooney remained focused on the classroom teacher's perspective and voice. He believed the union must lead reform, collaborate with the administration whenever possible, engage the adversaries of public education, but always put forward a strong teachers' voice, with bold ideas. Some of the ways that Tom Mooney's life and work provided inspiration to reform-minded teacher union leaders is captured on the Mooney Institute's Web Page devoted to Tom

Reputation and opinions[edit]

Mooney had a reputation as an articulate, aggressive, and progressive labor union activist. He frequently clashed with school district administrators over his bold ideas. He was a vocal critic of charter schools, and an advocate of teacher professionalism and education reform. Very much in-touch with his Irish family roots, Tom Mooney was an internationalist who drew inspiration from teacher unionism across the globe, from Australia, to Europe, Latin America and Africa. He brought lessons from the much more political teacher union movements in other countries to inspire union leaders in the US to build social movements and connect with broader movements for social change.

Personal life[edit]

Mooney was married to Debbie Schneider, who lives in Washington and works for the Service Employees International Union as the director of Global Organizing Partnerships. They had a daughter, Leilah Mooney. Tom had a son, Ruairi Rhodes, from his first marriage to Virginia Rhodes.


Mooney died of a heart attack at his home in Columbus, Ohio.[1] [2] December 3, 2006.


  1. ^ Kemme, Steve. "Teachers' advocate dies." Cincinnati Enquirer. (December 4, 2006)
  2. ^ "OFT Mourns the Sudden Death of President Tom Mooney." Accessed Dec. 4, 2006

External links[edit]