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Civic Education

Many in the education reform debates speak of schooling as an individual civil right—and understandably so. The realities of our modern society and global economy dictate that we urge our children to pursue learning as their best avenue toward the American dream, self-fulfillment, and economic prosperity. And yet, we must not forget that Americans' interest in education is not just as a private benefit, but as an essential public good—the reason that we, as citizens, are called upon to provide a quality education to the children of strangers, not just our own. As Thomas Jefferson and Horace Mann argued so persuasively, free access to public education and the health of our democracy are inextricably linked.

The youngsters in our schools are not just "other people's children" and someone else's concern. They are also the fellow citizens who will help shape the future and the nation that our children will inherit. As such, one of the primary missions of public schooling must be the preparation of a well informed and engaged citizenry. We must do all we can to provide the nation's youth with the knowledge, the foresight, the vocabulary, and the analytic skills that responsible citizenship demand.

As it has been said, devotion to human dignity and freedom, to social and economic justice, to self-restraint ns the rule of law, to civility and truth, to diversity and civic responsibility—all of these must be taught and learned and practiced. The nation's educators deserve every assistance in this endeavor.
 

  • The Freedom Schools of 1964

    In 2014, to honor the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, the Shanker Institute began developing resources for teachers in today’s classrooms. These include lesson plans on the Freedom Schools (which will be posted on these pages in the spring of 2015), historical materials, and interviews with some of the teachers who made history.

  • Democracy Web

    Democracy Web is a unique collection of online resources designed to help high school and college teachers illustrate key principles of democratic governance in a “compare and contrast” format that challenges students to think critically across cultural, historical and national contexts. The site’s key elements include country studies, an interactive map and a well-respected categorical rating system that offers an overview of the basic architecture of democracy and a framework for analysis.

  • March on Washington Lesson Plans

    The year 2013 marked the 50th anniversary of one of the most historic moments in United States history – the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

  • Civic Education: Is There Common Ground?

    March 13, 2019

    Civic Education: Is There Common Ground, March 13, 2019, noon, 555 New Jersey Ave, NW, Washington, DC. Speakers: Leo Casey, Executive Director, Albert Shanker Institute; Peter Levine, Research Professor in Philosophy, Tisch College Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship; Public Affairs, and Research Professor in the Tufts Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute at Tufts University; Jessica Marshall, co-author, “Let’s Go There: Making A Case for Race, Ethnicity and a Lived Civics Approach to Civic Education ;doctoral candidate, Northwestern University; former Director of Social Science and Civic Engagement for the Chicago Public Schools; Joe Rogers, Director of Public Engagement and Government Affairs, Center for Educational Equity, Teachers College, Columbia University. Watch the video.

  • The Right to Vote and the Future of American Democracy

    January 9, 2019

    THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED


    Today, American democracy is in crisis, and voter suppression is at the center of that crisis. There is ample evidence that it has been used to thwart the democratic will of “we the people” in a different states and in a number of recent elections. Our panel gathers not to belabor the self-evident – that voter suppression is morally wrong and injurious to democracy – but to discuss, from a variety of perspectives, what we should be doing to end it.
  • The 2018 Elections: What Do They Mean for American Education?

    November 27, 2018

    What are the implications of the results of the 2018 election for American education, in Washington D.C,. in state capitols and in the nation’s schools and classrooms? From a variety of perspectives ranging from political actor to scholar, our panelists will address this question. Speakers: Domingo Morel assistant professor, political science, Rutgers University; visiting scholar, Annenberg Institute for School Reform, Brown University; Michael Petrilli, president, Thomas B. Fordham Institute; research fellow, Stanford University's Hoover Institution; executive editor, Education Next; distinguished senior fellow, Education Commission of the States; Randi Weingarten, president, American Federation of Teachers and Albert Shanker Institute. Moderator: Michelle Ringuette, assistant to the president for labor, government & political affairs, American Federation of Teachers. Watch the video.
  • Teaching Democratic Citizenship When Democracy is at Risk

    January 10, 2018

    Today, the U.S. finds itself in a crisis of democracy, in which the future of our liberties and our republican form of government hang in the balance. Almost daily, we see attacks against the rights of citizenship, especially on the right to vote, and against the rule of law, an independent judiciary and a free press. Demagogic attacks are regularly launched against “other” Americans—immigrants and refugees, people of color, Muslims and Jews, and LGBTQ people. What role should American education play in responding to this crisis of democracy? How should we teach democratic citizenship in our schools and universities to ensure that the “whole mass of the people” can see that it is their interest to preserve the republican government established by the founders to sustain liberty and democracy? How can America’s educators ensure that their classrooms and lecture halls are places where students learn to recognize demagoguery, oppose bigotry and resist tyranny? Two of our nation’s leading public intellectuals, Harvard professor Danielle Allen and Yale professor Timothy Snyder, joined AFT President Randi Weingarten to discuss these questions. . Watch the video.
  • The Crisis of Democracy Conference

    October 5, 2017

    We are experiencing an organic crisis of democracy, international in scope. This conference will draw together intellectuals and activists from across the globe to examine and explore different dimensions of that crisis. The speakers will venture into a deeper analysis of the political forces and dynamics at work, with an eye to identifying opportunities in the resistance as well as dangers. October 5-6, 2017, Washington Court Hotel, 525 New Jersey Ave, NW, Washington, D.C. Watch the sessions.

  • AFT: One Hundred Years of Social Justice Teacher Unionism

    January 11, 2017

    Wednesday, January 11, 2017, 555 New Jersey Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20001. Watch the Conversation.

     

  • International Refugee Crisis

    May 18, 2016

    Co-sponsored by the Albert Shanker Institute & the Jewish Labor Committee. The distinguished speakers discuss the current international refugee crisis and draw historical parallels with the anti-refugee sentiments in the World War II era. More information and video here.

  • Teaching Voting Rights

    July 14, 2015

    Using the C3 framework developed for teaching social studies and civics with the Common Core, this workshop will investigate the use of inquiry lessons to teach the theme of voting rights. This panel is part of the AFT's TEACH conference. Watch the panel.

  • Organizing the Workers of Walmart: From Bentonville to Beijing

    June 15, 2015

    Speakers will discuss campaigns to organize the workers of Walmart, in the United States and in China. They include: Han Dongfang, Nelson Lichtenstein, Ph.D., Yi Duan, and Emily Stewart.
  • Strategies for African-American Economic Emancipation

    May 29, 2015

    A panel sponsored by the Albert Shanker Institute at the Fighting Inequality Conference at Georgetown University.

  • In Defense of the Public Square

    May 1, 2015

    A robust and vibrant public square is an essential foundation of democracy. It is the place where the important public issues of the day are subject to free and open debate, and our ideas of what is in the public interest take shape. Watch the sessions.

  • Civic Purposes of Public Education and the Common Core

    October 9, 2013

    One of the primary purposes of public education is to foster an engaged and well-educated citizenry: For a democracy to function, the "people" who rule must be prepared to take on the duties and the rights of citizens.
  • Conversation on Civic Education

    May 2, 2010

    In May 2010, ASI gathered together a remarkable group of researchers, policymakers, journalists and other leaders gathered in Washington, D.C., on May 3 for a thoughtful, in-depth, off-the-record discussion on the role of civic education in the United States. 

  • What Do We Really Know About High School Dropout Rates & What Can Be Done To Improve Them?

    May 2, 2007

    The reliability of the data on high school dropout and graduation rates and the best way to calculate them have recently become the subject of intense debate, often generating more heat than light. What are the hidden assumptions and implications behind the dueling methodologies? What can we say with some certainty about how many students leave school prior to graduation, when, and why? And, more importantly, what do we really know about the policies and programs that are most effective in preventing dropouts and promoting school success?

  • The Challenge for Democracy in the Middle East: The Art of the Possible

    February 2, 2007

    The Institute sponsored this conference on the challange of developing practical international programs to implement the traditional commitment of the labor movement to democracy and democratic institutions in the core Middle East region. It challenged participants to help conceive innovative, practical program approaches for the Middle East region.

  • Seminar on Education to Build Democracy

    May 6, 2003

    On May 6, 2003, the institute hosted a forum on international civic education. An invited group of academics, program developers, and leaders from the AFT, the U.S. State Dept., USAID, the National Democratic Institute, the National Endowment for Democracy, the AFL-CIO, and private industry attended the Washington, DC, meeting, to discuss effective program design, content, and strategy for civic education and democracy promotion abroad. The meeting provided those who are involved – funders, researchers, and practitioners – with a chance to share their knowledge and experience. According to participants, the seminar was unprecedented in its promotion of open nteraction among the many diverse elements of the civic education community.

  • Education for Democracy 1987

    Education for Democracy: A Statement of Principles, is a signatory statement released by the American Federation of Teachers, The Educational Excellence

  • Eugenia Kemble Research Grants

    In honor of its founding executive director, the Albert Shanker Institute announces the creation of the “Eugenia Kemble Research Grants Program.” Tax-deductible donations to this program are welcome. Please make donations through PayPal or by check to the Albert Shanker Institute (555 New Jersey Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20001). More information. Watch the Memorial Service.

  • Democratizing Evidence in Education

    This book chapter explores how to make the evidence movement more inclusive so that education stakeholders can meaningfully participate in the production and use of research.

  • The Freedom Schools of 1964

    In 2014, to honor the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, the Shanker Institute began developing resources for teachers in today’s classrooms. These include lesson plans on the Freedom Schools (which will be posted on these pages in the spring of 2015), historical materials, and interviews with some of the teachers who made history.

  • March on Washington Lesson Plans

    2013 marked the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The Institute worked to make a special contribution to this commemoration by publishing lesson plans and materials that K-12 teachers across the country can use in their classrooms.

  • Democracy's Champion

    This report chronicles Al Shanker’s contributions in the international arena. It documents Shanker's many international endeavors to support democracy and workers’ rights and records the living memories of those who worked with him.

  • The Global State of Workers Rights: Free Labor in a Hostile World

    The Shanker Institute conceived of and supported the creation of a first-of-its-kind map of labor freedom in the world, by Freedom House and a report entitled: “The Global State of Workers’ Rights: Free Labor in a Hostile World” which examined the conditions in 165 countries.

  • American Labor in U.S. History Textbooks

    The study conducted by the Institute in cooperation with the American Labor Studies Center (ALSC) makes the argument that labor history is central to an accurate depiction of U.S. history and argues that a fuller, more balanced depiction of U.S.

  • Muslim Voices on Democracy: A Reader

    A resource for American teachers and students on the turbulent events taking place in many Islamic countries.

  • Education for Democracy

    Education for Democracy, a signatory statement released by the institute in conjunction with the beginning of a new school year, the second anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and the 40th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, is a new statement calling for improvement

  • Educating Democracy: State Standards to Ensure a Civic Core

    This 2003 study, authored by the late historian Paul Gagnon, evaluates the extent to which state history, civics, and social studies standards across the nation serve to help teachers in their efforts to prepare an informed citizenry.

  • Bayard Rustin Film Premiere

    In January 2003, the Institute co-hosted the Washington premiere of "Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin" at the National Press Club.
    One of the primary purposes of public education is to foster an engaged and well-educated citizenry: For a democracy to function, the "people" who rule must be prepared to take on the duties and the rights of citizens.