Wednesday | January 11, 2017

In 1916, on the eve of America’s entry into World War I, teachers from eight local unions across the United States met in Chicago and founded the American Federation of Teachers. These pioneers articulated a mission that combined the defense of the teaching profession and the work-related interests of educators with larger democratic struggles for economic justice, civil rights and civil liberties. The AFT’s early slogan—“Democracy in education; education for democracy”—gave expression to this purpose.

As the second century of the AFT begins, America’s teachers and unions find themselves confronting serious challenges to public education, unionism and American democracy itself. There is much to be learned from a century of struggles on behalf of the union’s social justice mission. Our panelists will examine a number of different figures and moments in the history of the AFT from a variety of different perspectives.


Patricia Carter, Associate Clinical Professor Master's Coordinator, Social Foundations, Dept. of Educational Policy Studies, Georgia State University

Leo Casey, Executive Director, Albert Shanker Institute

Richard Kahlenberg, Senior Fellow, The Century Foundation

Daniel Perlstein, Professor of Education, Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley

Kate Rousmaniere, Professor, Professor and Chair, Department of Educational Leadership, Miami University, Ohio

Clarence Taylor, Professor, Modern African American, Religion, Civil Rights, Department of History, The City University of New York