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Quote, Unquote


Al said clearly that the country would only support a teachers' union that was concerned with the well-being of children. I heard him say this a number of times.

This is a truly confusing paragraph: "The first is an article in the Meridian Star (a newspaper in Meridian, MS) from August 13, 1985. It is the earliest published version of the quote, and a couple of subsequent articles also suggest that it is the first (see here). In addition, this paper cites it as the original (page 176), as do a couple of blog posts (this one, for instance). We were unable to locate an electronic copy of this article, so we took a quick trip over to the Library of Congress, and found it on microfilm." Too many disconnected pronouns. Is "this paper" meant to be the Meridian paper? And it cites "it" means what? As the "original (page 176)" Huh? Page 176 of what? "This article"? refers to what? The Meridian paper? The blog posts? The thing on page 176? And what's the "it" you found on microfilm? This is a wonderful expedition and, as someone who tried to find the origins of this Shanker quote, I applaud your efforts. But you need to rigor up your research a bit. And stay at it. thanks, --pm

Did Shanker ever deny saying it? Not that I've discovered. It would be surprising that he didn't deny it loudly and repeatedly if he didn't say it. In addition, your interpretation of the words in the congressional record is ludicrous. True, student and teacher self-interest are often aligned. But not always. A terrible teacher wants to protect her job, even though that's bad for kids. In that circumstance, the union will - has to, as a matter of fiduciary duty - protect the teacher. That's what Shaker said, and, more importantly, that's what happens every day in American education.

You're to be commended for your research into this. Though I've never been shy about citing provocative quotes by union officers, I've never used that Shanker quote for the same reasons you mention. I was never able to trace the quote back further than the Meridian Star, though I do have some vague memory of finding it (through a hard copy search) in one of the August 1985 Congressional Records, but I think maybe the Congressman involved had the Meridian editorial entered into the Record. Disappointed conservatives should simply head over to the July 23, 1989 "Where We Stand," in which Shanker said public education "more resembles the communist economy than our own market economy."


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