The Albert Shanker Institute is a nonprofit organization established in 1998 to honor the life and legacy of the late president of the American Federation of Teachers.
The organization’s by-laws commit it to four fundamental principles —vibrant democracy, quality public education, a voice for working people in decisions affecting their jobs and their lives, and free and open debate about all of these issues.—that is the vision, the mission, and the method of the Albert Shanker Institute.
The institute brings together influential leaders and thinkers from business, labor, government, and education from across the political spectrum. It sponsors research, promotes discussions, and seeks new and workable approaches to the issues that will shape the future of democracy, education, and unionism. Many of these conversations are off-the-record, encouraging lively, honest debate and new understandings.
These efforts are directed by and accountable to a diverse and distinguished board of directors representing the richness of Al Shanker’s commitments and concerns. The organization maintains a small permanent staff, a modest program budget, little overhead, and as much agility as possible.
Committed to basic principles, open to new ideas, and addressing the inter-related issues of work, education, and democracy.
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Albert Shanker Institute
555 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
Leo Casey is the Executive Director of the Albert Shanker Institute, a think tank affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers which focuses of issues of public education, unionism and democracy promotion. Before he assumed his current position at the Institute, Casey served as Vice President from Academic High Schools for the United Federation of Teachers, New York City’s 200,000 person strong teacher union. He is the son of two New York City public school teachers. Casey attended Antioch College in Ohio, the University of Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania and the University of Toronto in Canada, where he earned a Ph.D. in Political Philosophy.
After a stint in political organizing, Casey began his teaching career in 1984 at Clara Barton High School in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. There he taught classes in Civics, American History, African-American Studies, Ethical Issues in Medicine and Political Science for fifteen years. For ten years in a row, his classes – entirely students of color, largely immigrant and largely female – won the New York City championship of the national We The People civics competition, winning the New York State championship four times and placing fourth in the nation twice. He was recognized in the Congressional Record for the achievements of his classes in the competition.
Casey’s union activism at Clara Barton began in 1987, when he led an effort to have the school building closed to clean up major asbestos contamination caused by the Department of Education’s renovations. He served as UFT Chapter Leader at Clara Barton for ten years. He has a long history of union involvement, including work as a United Farm Worker’s organizer and participation in the first unionization drive of graduate teaching assistants in Canada.
In 1999, Casey became a full-time UFT Special Representative for High Schools. He was elected Vice President from Academic High Schools in October 2007. As Vice President he taught a class in Global Studies every day at Bard High School Early College in Manhattan.
Casey has served as Vice President of the Graduate Student Union at the University of Toronto and on the executive of the Ontario Federation of Students. He was editor in chief of the Antioch Record, and National Field Director of Democratic Socialists of America. He was a fellow of the Teachers’ Network Leadership Institute. He served as the New York State Teacher Reviewer for the National Standards for Civics and Government Project.
Casey has won several awards for his teaching, and was named national Social Studies Teacher of the Year for the American Teacher Awards in 1992. Casey led the design team for the UFT’s Secondary Charter School, and led the UFT’s work with charter schools, including charter organizing, while he served as UFT Vice President. He has worked with teacher unions and teachers in Russia, Tanzania and China on the development of civics education. Casey has written extensively on civics, education, unionism and politics, and is a frequent contributor to the UFT blog, Edwize.
Director of Programs
Edith Burnett (Burnie) Bond is director of programs at the nonpartisan, nonprofit Albert Shanker Institute, where she works on a range of projects related to the institute’s key issue areas of educational excellence and equity, unions as advocates for quality, and the support of democracy and democratic institutions, both at home and abroad. Previously, she served as assistant director of the American Federation of Teachers’ Educational Issues Department. In that capacity, she monitored educational research on programs and teaching strategies to raise student achievement—especially for "at-risk" students in low-performing schools. She also worked on several related issues, including improving beginning reading instruction, research on and implementation of school turnaround strategies, standards-based reform, Title I, multicultural education, and efforts to improve the reliability and utility of educational research. She is a former staff assistant in the Office of AFT President Albert Shanker, where she served as coordinator of the AFT’s Education for Democracy Project, a program to promote a rigorous history and civics curriculum, and was formerly the director of research and publications for the International Affairs Department of the AFL-CIO, where she worked on international trade and labor rights issues. She also served on the 1992 Clinton Transition Team at the United States Information Agency.
Director of Research and Operations
Randall Garton is Director of Research and Operations for the Albert Shanker Institute. Prior to coming to the Institute in 2001, he was Deputy for Program Operations at the Solidarity Center, the international program arm of the AFL-CIO, where he was responsible for operational aspects of programs on nearly every continent. During the course of a 24-year career at the AFL-CIO, Mr. Garton also directly monitored, administered and implemented programs in East and Southeast Asia and south central and south eastern Europe, and participated in regional and global conferences of the International Labor Organization and global union federations. He began his career as a newspaper reporter and holds a B.A. from Michigan State University, a J.D. from the Catholic University of America, and is a member of the District of Columbia Bar.
Matthew Di Carlo
Matthew Di Carlo is a senior research fellow at the non-profit Albert Shanker Institute in Washington, D.C. His current research focuses mostly on education policy, including value-added, charter schools, and teacher compensation. He has also published work on labor markets, social stratification/inequality, work and occupations, and political attitudes/behavior. Matt has a B.A. from Fordham University (1998), and a Ph.D. in sociology from Cornell University (2008).
Senior Research Fellow
Esther Quintero is a research associate at the Albert Shanker Institute. She focuses on higher education, women in STEM, and early childhood. Esther has worked on and is interested in discrimination in employment, gender stereotypes, social inequality, and the application of social science research methods to security and intelligence. She has a B.A. in History from the University of Seville (1997), and earned her Ph.D. in sociology from Cornell University in 2008.