To honor the life and legacy of the late president of the American Federation of Teachers, the nonprofit Albert Shanker Institute was established in 1998.
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.
Committed to basic principles, open to new ideas, and addressing the inter-related issues of work, education, and democracy—that is the vision, the mission, and the method of the Albert Shanker Institute.
Over the next year, in honor of the 25th anniversary of the Shanker Institute's founding, we will be publishing highlights of Institute's achievements.
Support for "The Teaching Gap: Best Ideas from the World's Teachers for Improving Education"
The Institute provided a grant to support this important book by James Stigler and James Hiebert, which explores the school system's failure to support a culture of professional development for teachers. It compares what's lacking in teacher training in this country with what's working in Japan, where teachers spend time working together to improve their skills.
Hart Research Poll of Teachers and Principals
Despite the greater demands being made on their schools, two Albert Shanker Institute-supported polls find that teachers and principals strongly support efforts to hold students to rigorous academic standards and see standards-based reform resulting in beneficial changes at their schools.
Professional Workers, Unions, and Associations: Affinities and Antipathies
This paper prepared for ASI by Richard Hurd, director of labor studies at Cornell University, explores the changing nature of professional work, examines the attitudes of professionals toward work and unionization, and analyzes the possibility of convergence between the roles and operations of unions and professional associations. It also offers thoughtful advice to those who seek to organize professional, technical, and paraprofessional workers.
Building a New Structure for School Leadership
In this major research analysis, Richard Elmore explores the problems with the structure and leadership of public education, while explaining the dangers of public funding for private schools. He urges educators to study the schools whose leaders and best practice are succeeding in meeting high standards, including through the use of collaboration and distributed leadership.
French Early Care and Education Study Tour
The Shanker Institute organized a trip to learn about France's Early Care and Education System so participants could get an intensive look at the French preschool system, which has gained international attention for being universal and of high quality. While participation is voluntary, almost 100% of children in France have entered preschool by the age of three. The trip was organized around three themes : 1) skills and curriculum content behind the programs; 2) staff training and qualifications; and 3) the impact of programs on poor and minority students.
Seminars on Workforce Development
According to a Financial Times article (“The futile war for talent,” June 6, 2001), most corporations would be better off if they concentrated on identifying and developing the talents of their current workforce, and unions have a vested interest in helping members increase both the value and the quality of their work. Two discussions hosted by the Albert Shanker Institute explored the convergence of these interests. The first seminar for trade union leaders and researchers from the U.S. and several European countries discussed union experiences with professional development as a service to members, a tool for organizing and a basis for improved labor-management relations. The second smaller meeting of U.S. business representatives and U.S. and European labor leaders discussed institute polling data on the attitudes and aspirations of professional and technical workers and to explore workforce development and other possible areas for improved cooperation.
Bridging the Gap Between Standards and Achievement
In this publication, published by the Albert Shanker Institute in conjunction with a professional development forum for state leaders cosponsored with Achieve, Inc., Harvard professor Richard Elmore argues that education reforms that are based on standards and accountability will fail unless policymakers also adopt a strategy to ensure that educators have the knowledge and skill they need to help students succeed.
Support for a History Research Paper Study
The Albert Shanker Institute provided support for a study of the state of the history research paper in United States high schools which was conducted by the Center for Survey Research and Analysis at the University of Connecticut and published in the Concord Review.
Best Research to What Works Luncheon Series
This series of luncheon forums was designed to highlight best research on key educational issues, then to link these findings to the practical steps that schools can take to improve student achievement. Held on a periodic basis, these events brought together a select group of researchers, policymakers, and practitioners to discuss crucial issues about which research and practice appear to diverge. The topics in 2002 were 1) Early Language & Literacy Development and 2) Strategies to Improve Student Behavior and Support Student Achievement.
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.
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 in the teaching of democracy.
Bayard Rustin Film Premiere
The Institute jointly hosted the Washington premiere of "Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin" at the National Press Club, with the AFL-CIO, the A. Philip Randolph Institute, Freedom House, the Rustin Fund, the International Rescue Committee, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Social Democrats, U.S.A., AFT President Sandra Feldman, and U.S. Representatives John Lewis and Eleanor Holmes Norton. A longtime friend and ally of Al Shanker's, Rustin, a gay socialist, pacifist, civil rights leader, international democracy activist, and master strategist is best remembered as the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington. This documentary film was aired nationwide by PBS on Martin Luther King Day, and was featured in the 2003 Sundance Film Festival.
Unions and Workforce Development Discussion
This discussion on the revitalization of the labor movement with John Monks, general secretary of Britain's Trades Union Congress (TUC), was co-sponsored by the Albert Shanker Institute and the New Economy Information Service. An audience, including AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and a score of other union leaders and labor academics, listened as Monks described worker training initiatives by several TUC unions that have helped increase labor strength and membership in the UK. “In the long term,” said Monks, “skills and training are the future.” Morty Bahr, former president of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and former member of the ASI board of directors, introduced Monks and related his remarks to the U.S. context.
Seminar on Education to Build Democracy
The Albert Shanker 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 interaction among the many diverse elements of the civic education community.