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 compares the U.S. school system's failure to support a culture of professional development for teachers with what's working in Japan, where teachers spend time working together.
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, the attitudes of professionals toward work and unionization, and analyzes the possibility of convergence between the roles and operations of unions and professional associations.
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, urging educators to study the schools whose leaders and best practice are succeeding, 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.
Seminars on Workforce Development
Two discussions hosted by the Albert Shanker Institute explored the convergence of the ideas that 1) corporations would be better off if they concentrated on identifying and developing the talents of their current workforce, and 2) unions have a vested interest in helping members increase both the value and the quality of their work.
Bridging the Gap Between Standards and Achievement
In this publication, published by the Albert Shanker Institute in conjunction with a 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 highlighted best research on key educational issues, then linked these findings to the practical steps to improve student achievement. 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 second anniversary of September 11, 2001 and the 40th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, called 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.
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. The audience, included AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and a score of other union leaders and labor academics.
Seminar on Education to Build Democracy
The Albert Shanker Institute hosted a forum on international civic education with academics, 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 to discuss effective program design, content, and strategy for civic education and democracy promotion abroad.
Learning Partnerships: Strengthening American Jobs in the Global Economy
In April 2004, the Task Force on Workforce Development, a group of labor, business and policy experts co-sponsored by the Albert Shanker Institute and New Economy Information Service, issued a report entitled "Learning Partnerships: Strengthening American Jobs in the Global Economy," which called for far-reaching changes in the way our country manages its work-force skills and training efforts.
Early Childhood Assessments: Problems & Possibilities
This forum with leading experts discussed questions raised about the appropriateness, validity, and utility of assessments with very young children.
Lane Kirkland: Champion of American Labor
The Institute provided support for this biography by Arch Puddington, which traces Kirkland’s life from modest origins to his rise to the top position in the trade union movement as well as his efforts to expand labor’s political influence, his success in affiliating large independent unions to the AFL-CIO, his response to the challenges of deindustrialization and globalization, and his central role in mobilizing international labor support for Poland’s Solidarity union and in the creation of the modern democracy movement.
Unionism and Democracy: The Experience, the Legacy, The Future
The Institute received a grant from the ILGWU Heritage Fund in to help sponsor this three-day seminar aimed at educating new AFT leaders on the rationale and history behind labor’s support for democracy and worker rights in the world.
Reading Disabilities, Reading Difficulties & School-Based Interventions that Work
Two experts, Sally Shaywitz, Professor of Pediatrics and Child Study at the Yale University School of Medicine, and Co-director of the Yale Center for the Study of Learning and Attention and Joseph Torgesen, Professor of Psychology at Florida State University, and Director of the Center for the Study of Reading and Reading Disabilities discussed programs to improve beginning reading instruction, including strategies to identify struggling readers as early as possible.
Improving the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics
The Shanker Institute held a forum with James Hiebert, the Robert J. Barkley Professor of Education at the University of Delaware and Deborah Loewenberg Ball, the William H. Payne Collegiate, Professor of Education and Director of Teacher Education at the University of Michigan who provided an overview on recent research about what mathematics teachers need to know and be able to do to improve the performance of all students.
Democracy and Worker Rights: A Discussion of Labor's Approach to China
The Institute sponsored a lively discussion among representatives from nine AFL-CIO and Change to Win unions on the U.S. labor movement’s differing approaches to the increasing economic dominance of an ongoing worker rights repression in mainland China.
Performance-Based Pay in Public Education
The Institute sponsored a forum with Edward Lawler, the director of the Center for Effective Organizations, and distinguished professor of business at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business and Lewis Solmon, president of the Teacher Advancement Program Foundation, and member of the Board of Trustees of the Milken Family Foundation, on programs to encourage excellent teaching by linking teachers’ pay to their performance or to the performance of their schools or students.
The Challenge for Democracy in the Middle East: The Art of the Possible
The Institute sponsored a conference on the challenge 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.This conference was followed by a union leadership study trip to the Middle East to investigate the role of education unions and other unions in promoting democracy and peace. The delegation met with teachers and other unionists from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Iraq, and Yemen, as well as with country and regional representatives of the Solidarity Center, the National Democratic Institute, and U.S. Embassies.
Good Schools I: Unions, Teaching Quality and Student Achievement
This is the first in a series of two-day seminars, designed to help build a network of union leaders, district superintendents, and researchers to work collaboratively on improving public education through a focus on teaching. The topics covered in this seminar included: Why Teachers and Education Need a Union Voice; The Union’s Role in Ensuring That Teaching Quality Matches Student Needs; What Does the Research Say About Teaching Quality?; Staffing for Extra Need — Hard-to-Staff Schools and Positions — Union Policies, Union Effects; Promoting and Recognizing Teacher Excellence: Pay for Performance, Mentoring and Induction, Peer Review and Intervention, Providing Quality Curriculum and Aligned Professional Development; From Where the Superintendent Sits; From Where the Local Leader Sits
A Cry for Justice: The Voices of Chinese Workers
This important publication tells the stories of workers, in their own words, as they protest for a redress of greivances — usually in defiance of their employers, government authorities, the official union, and threats of violence and imprisonment. From the Oilfields of Daqing, the Ferroally workers of Liaoyang, the Heavenly King Textile workers of Xianyang, the Gold Peak Battery factory workers of Huizhou, coal miners from Wanbao, teachers from Suizhou and ex-soldiers who work in factories around the country run by the People’s Liberation Army, the accounts are all based on extraordinary first-hand interviews conducted by Han Dongfang, China ’s leading labor rights advocate and Shanker Board member, with workers across China . Han joined the demonstrations in Tiananman Square in 1989 as a leader of the Beijing Autonomous Workers Federation and was then jailed for almost two years, in his capacity as a correspondent and presenter for Radio Free Asia. The source data for this publication was compiled by China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong based non-governmental organization that promotes labor rights in mainland China .
Labor Law Reform in China: What Are The Implications for Worker Rights? For Political Liberalization?
The Shanker Institute sponsored a seminar in Washington, D.C. focused on the implications and impact of recently enacted labor law reform in China. The purpose of the program was to bring together China experts for a real discussion on whether or not the new labor law, which took effect on January 1, 2008, will actually give workers more voice and improve their lives. The presenters and seminar participants included more than 50 trade unionists, academics, attorneys, worker rights activists, and others deeply involved in programs dealing with China . They discussed the new law in terms of the potential impact on ongoing grassroots legal advocacy for individual workers.
Good School II: Developing the Teaching Corps We Need
This seminar series is part of the Institute's effort to build a network of union leaders, district superintendents, and researchers to work collaboratively on improving public education through a focus on teaching. This second Good Schools Seminar focused on the following topics: 1) Engaging Teachers in the Improvement Agenda: Context Counts with sessions on Teacher Working Conditions and Student Learning, and Teachers Need to Know What Student Curriculum They Are Expected to Teach; 2) Developing the Teaching Corps with sessions on What Does The Research Say About New Teacher Supports?, and Peer Assistance and Review: Pitfalls and Promise; and 3) Grounding Professional Development in the Work of Schools and Specific Student Learning
Creating Jobs: Delivering Education and Skills; Expanding Labor’s Role
This meeting focused on three priorities: (1) the need for a seamless web of providers from high schools to community colleges and universities to unions and employers; (2) technology and how teaching is delivered; and (3) access to learning in multiple settings. The "Postmeeting Statement," which was signed by most attendees including the International Association of Machinists and the American Federation of Teachers, ultimately resulted in the AFL-CIO Executive Council issuing a resolution based on this document.
Good Schools III: Teacher Pay and Staffing: What Works, What Doesn't
This third Good Schools Seminar discussed the evidence and policy on compensation and staffing policies for teachers in the U.S. There were three main parts. The first concentrated on The Context for the Improvement of Teaching: A Revisit, with sessions on “Standards, Accountability, and the Achievement Gap: Lessons From History” and “Creating A Positive School Culture: Linking School and Community Supports.” The second part looked at Research on the Use of Incentive Pay for Improving Individual and System Performance. The final part of the seminar look at Improving Teaching Quality in Hard to Staff Schools.
Preschool Curriculum: What's in it for Students and Teachers
Preschool Curriculum is an accessible research synthesis of how and how much young children learn in the academic domains of oral language, literacy, mathematics, and science.
Muslim Voices on Democracy: A Reader
This publication is a resource for American teachers and students on the turbulent events taking place in many Islamic countries. It highlights the speeches, articles, and ideals of pro-democracy Muslims who are intellectuals, union activists, dissidents, and journalists. The publication also features a glossary of terms and a list of resources for further study.
American Labor in U.S. History Textbooks: How Labor's Story is Distorted in High School 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. labor history is important for the proper education of our youngest citizens.
Democracy Web is an on-line resource for the comparative study of democracy which challenges students to think critically about the foundations of democracy, the arc of freedom in history, the development of democracy over time, and the reasons for the ebb and flow of democracy in different eras, different regions, and within different countries. It includes study questions and activities and is continuously being updated in order to reflect the world’s current events.
Assisting Independent Trade Unions in Cuba
In cooperation with the Committee for Free Trade Unionism (CFTU) headed by AFL-CIO President Emeritus Tom Donahue, Freedom House, the National Endowment for Democracy and the 21st Century ILGWU Heritage Fund, the Institute sponsored a conference which examined current conditions on workers in Cuba and the prospects for change on the island nation suffering under political repression. The conference brought together a diverse and broad group of labor leaders, journalists, activists, and human rights groups.
Good Schools IV / Using the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act To Advance the Good Schools Agenda
This seminar, Good Schools IV / Using the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act To Advance the Good Schools Agenda examined the ARRA and the kinds of state and local projects it might fund to improve teacher quality, develop effective curriculum, improve the achievement of low-performing students, develop useful assessments, and other reform efforts.
The Financial Crisis and Worker Rights in China
In June, 2009, the Institute sponsored a two-day conference on "The Financial Crisis and Worker Rights in China: What Has The Recession Done to Prospects for True Worker Representation?"
The Global State of Worker Rights: Free Labor in a Hostile World
The Shanker Institute conceived of and supported the creation by Freedom House of this first-of-its-kind report and map of labor freedom in the world,/a>, which examined the conditions of worker rights in 165 countries.
Good Schools V
In 2010, the Institute convened the fifth of is Good Schools Seminars which focused on "Pushing the Teacher Evaluation Envelope: Designing the Most Valid and Reliable Systems Possible." The seminar looked at such topics as: how teacher evaluation fits in the big picture in relation to standards/ curriculum/ assessments reform and what kinds of student data should be used in teacher evaluation; and the importance Of Union/ District support For professional teaching, staff evaluation, and due process.
Good Schools VI: Multiple Measures of Teacher Performance
This sixth Good Schools Seminar focused on multiple measures of teacher performance and focused on how teacher effectiveness should be evaluated using multiple measures that are fair, relevant and reliable including Measures of student progress, teaching practice, and teaching conditions.
Policy Brief: The Evidence on Charter Schools and Test Scores
This policy brief provides an accessible review of the research on charter schools’ testing effects, how their varying impacts might be explained, and what this evidence suggests about the ongoing proliferation of these schools. The brief is an adaptation of a three-part series of posts on this blog (here is part one, part two and part three).
Good Schools VII: Turning Around Low-Performing Schools
In 2011 the Institute held its seventh Good Schools Seminar on Turning Around Low-Performing Schools. Sessions looked at: The Research on Raising Achievement In Poorly Performing Schools; Improving Content, Teaching, and the Supports for Both; and Setting the Stage for Success.
The Role of Curriculum in Early Childhood Teacher Preparation Programs
In 2011 the Institute held a workshop on "The Role of Curriculum in Early Childhood Teacher Preparation Programs" which presented an overview of research on why the early acquisition of broad content knowledge is crucial to young children’s later academic success. Examples were provided from the Institute's four research-based teacher training modules in the content domains of oral language development, early literacy, mathematics, and science.
Creating a Comprehensive System for Evaluating and Supporting Effective Teaching
This publication, by Linda Darling Hammond, Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University, was written at the request of and with the input of participants in the Albert Shanker Institute's Good Schools seminars. It presents a comprehensive view on how to improve teacher preparation, make entry into the profession an educational and developmental experience, how to upgrade career and professional development, and what kind of models for evaluation make sense given the quality and integrity of current methods for doing that, including value added techniques.
Spending by Major Charter Management Organizations in Three States
This report presents a rigorous analysis of 2008-2010 spending among charter schools run by major CMOs in three states – New York, Texas and Ohio. It is written by Bruce Baker (Rutgers University), Ken Libby and Kathryn Wiley (University of Colorado Boulder), and published by the National Education Policy Center, with support from the Shanker Institute and the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.
Good Schools VIII: Doing Assessment Right
In the wake of No Child Left Behind and with the increasing demands on educational testing, this Labor-Management seminar looked at what a useful assessment system would look like at the state and local levels and the conceptual and practical issues that must be confronted to achieve such a system.
Afro-Cuban Civil Rights Activists
The Albert Shanker Institute hosted a seminar and reception for Afro-Cuban civil rights activists Leonardo Calvo, Manuel Cuesta Morua, and Rafel Campoamor in Washington, D.C. These activists were visiting Washington, DC to participate in the Annual Congress of the Latin American Studies Association as panelists on racial issues in Cuba and to raise awareness about the oppression of the situation of Cubans of African descent.
Reclaiming the Promise of Education Conversation Series Launched.
Co-sponsored with the American Federation of Teachers and held the second Wednesday of every month during the school year from 2013 to 2020, this series of conversations was designed to engender lively and informative conversations on important educational issues, featuring speakers with diverse perspectives who were committed to genuine engagement with each other.
Fulfilling the Promise of a Quality Education for All: 21st Century Career and Technical Education
Co-sponsored with the UFT and held in New York City, this all-day conference was designed to allow participants to share their expertise in CTE policy, practice, and research, as well as to deepen their understanding of how quality CTE can serve to expand the educational and career horizons of all students.
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. 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 to teach about this historic event.
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.
Freedom Schools of 1964
In 2014, to honor the 50th anniversary of these events, the Shanker Institute began developing resources for teachers in today’s classrooms. These include historical materials, and interviews with some of the teachers who made history.
Oral Language Project Boosts Preschoolers Vocabulary in St. Louis
This paper, from NYU's Steinhardt School, describes a Shanker Institute-sponsored pilot project designed to help pre-K teachers in the St. Louis Public Schools increase the oral language development of their students.
Preschool Educational Environment Rating System (PEERS)
The Preschool Educational Environment Rating System (PEERS), designed for practitioners and administrators, is a method for examining the quality of instruction in preschool settings which measures the environment, as well as how teachers construct classroom instruction and the quality of the enactment of instruction.
Good Schools IX
This two-day labor-management seminar focused on Creating Safe and Supportive Schools. Watch the video of the sessions.
The Chinese Labor Movement: Which Way Forward
This event featured Han Dongfang, founder and executive director of China Labour Bulletin (CLB), a Hong Kong-based labor rights group which sponsors and supports activities aimed at improving the lives of Chinese workers and fostering the development of independent labor organizations. Han also serves as a correspondent for Radio Free Asia and is a Shanker Institute board member,
This is Not a Test: Jose Vilson Book Event
Jose Vilson, a middle school teacher and AFT member, talks and writes from a place of authority about the intersection of race, class and America’s education system. By telling his own story and those of his students, Vilson shows why teacher voice is essential to shedding the failures of the past and to reclaiming the promise of public education.
Losing Our Way Book Event
Author and former New York Times Columnist Bob Herbert and AFT and ASI President Randi Weingarten discussed Herbert's book, Losing Our Way: An Intimate Portrait of a Troubled America, on the plight of the 99 percent.
The Early Language Gap is About More Than Words
The vocabulary gap between rich and poor children develops very early and it is about more than just words. In fact, words are the tip of the iceberg. So what lies underneath? Find out by watching this three-minute video.
The State of Teacher Diversity in American Education
This major report which analyzes the national trends in teacher diversity between 1987 and 2012, and takes a closer look at nine major U.S. cities, finds that substantial representation gaps between minority teachers and minority students persist.
American Labor Movement at a Crossroads: New Thinking, New Organizing, New Strategies
At a critical juncture in the labor movement, this major conference examined new thinking and new initiatives to cultivate member activism and involvement, foster democratic self-governance and build the collective power of working people.
This volume is a curated collection of essays on some of the policies and practices required to create an excellent early childhood education system for all children and the research supporting them.
In Defense of the Public Square
A consortium of seven organizations organized this conference which brought together prominent elected officials, public intellectuals, and union, business and civil rights leaders “in defense of the public square.”
Let's Talk Professional Development Modules
The highest rate of vocabulary development (and corresponding acquisition of background knowledge) occurs during the preschool years. Accordingly, the Institute developed a series of four Common Core State Standards (CCSS)-aligned modules, which are designed to strengthen the ability of early childhood teachers to impart rich, academic content in fun, developmentally appropriate ways: Foundations of Oral Language, Early Literacy, Early Math, Early Science.
Let's Talk Video
This 5-minute video, a part of the Institute’s Let’s Talk initiative, explains how children’s knowledge and language develop in tandem, forming the foundation for all subsequent learning, and what parents and caregivers can do to help.
Good Schools X
The focus of this Good Schools seminar was to share effective policies and strategies to enhance school climate, mitigate behavior problems, and support improved performance, with special attention to supporting labor-management teams as they work to comply with new rules and guidelines on behavior management.
Vidceo: How Relationships Matter in Educational Improvement
This short video explains some shortcomings of mainstream education reform and offers an alternative framework to advance educational progress. The social side perspective maintains that educational improvement is as much about the capacities of individuals as it is about their relationships and other features of their social context. Read more about these ideas.
Organizing the Workers of Walmart: From Bentonville to Beijing
With over 11,000 stores in 27 different countries and $485+ billion in annual revenue, Walmart is not simply the world’s largest corporation: it is a global economic behemoth that seeks to dominate the local economy wherever it does business. Speakers at this session discussed campaigns to organize the workers of Walmart, in the United States and in China.
Evidence in the "Florida Formula" For Education Reform
This policy brief reviewed the high quality evidence on the education reforms enacted in Florida for use by policy makers and the public.