K-12 Education

  • 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. On August 28, 1963, approximately 250,000 people participated in the march, which is considered to be one of the largest peaceful political rallies for human rights in history.

    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.

  • Fulfilling The Promise Of a Quality Education for All: 21st Century Career & Technical Education

    This New York City conference (co-sponsored with the UFT) 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.

  • National Civics Day: Civics in the Classroom

    Today is National Civics Day. For the last year the Albert Shanker Institute has been working with a team of accomplished educators to create high quality civics and democracy lessons, written with state standards in mind, to share with educators via our partnership with ShareMyLesson. While an unproductive debate about what to teach our students simmers across the country, these lessons serve as an example of how seriously teachers take their responsibility to create healthy teaching and learning environments and lessons where students are introduced to founding documents, like the US Constitution, and the honest history of our country in ways that foster critical thinking. Today we wrap up our 2022 Constitution Day blog series with one example of how these lessons are framed to give readers a glimpse of the work our educators do in their classrooms to meet the academic expectations of students. For more lessons and examples, please visit our Educating for Democratic Citizenship Community on ShareMyLesson.
    -- Editor

  • The Long Shadow of Racial Housing Discrimination

    Earlier this year, we published a report on the relationship between housing discrimination/segregation and school funding disparities. I would encourage you to check it out. But I’d like to discuss the substance of the report from a somewhat broader perspective.

    Our analysis, while it includes a lot of national results, consists largely of “case studies” of seven metro areas. In order to interpret and understand our results, we relied heavily on the work of scholars who had focused on those areas.1 And that included a great deal of specific history that one might not see in (otherwise excellent and very important) large scale segregation analyses. These histories illustrate how, in every metro area, the effort to keep white and non-white families living in different neighborhoods was a deliberate plan.

    Multiple institutions, public and private, all played a part. That means city governments, the federal government, courts, the real estate industry, the finance industry, and homeowner associations. And the plan adapted to changing circumstances. When segregative tools became obsolete or illegal, new tools were developed to keep building on past efforts. A few of these tools are still in use today.

  • The Future of Work in Education: Teachers’ Professional Commitment in a Changing World

    A special issue of the New England Journal of Public Policy (Vol. 34, Issue 1, Spring/Summer 2022) featured essays on the topic of the Future of Work which were solicited by the American Federation of Teachers for a conference on the subject it jointly hosted with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Albert Shanker Institute on July 13, 2022. This is the sixth of these essays.

    Teacher shortages are an issue not just in the United States; across the planet, the issue is getting to the forefront of debate as the profession itself is under threat. In “Teachers’ Professional Commitment in a Changing World,” by Ee Ling Low et al. of the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore, this issue is confronted head on. The authors take great efforts to both identify the factors that drive teacher commitment, and to identify how these factors can be implemented to drive positive outcomes for teachers for the duration of their careers.

    Read the full article.
  • Jasmine’s Day: An AI Education Story

    A special issue of the New England Journal of Public Policy (Vol. 34, Issue 1, Spring/Summer 2022) featured essays on the topic of the Future of Work which were solicited by the American Federation of Teachers for a conference on the subject it jointly hosted with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Albert Shanker Institute on July 13, 2022. This is the fifth of these essays.

  • Student Free Speech Rights: A Lesson on the Constitution

    In the fourth blog of our Constitution Day 2022 series, guest author Stephen Lazar, a national board certified teacher and a Shanker Institute Civics Fellow, uses his students' natural interest in their free speech rights in school as an opportunity to teach them about the Supreme Court's role in helping to redefine and enhance the rights enshrined in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

    I always tell my students that (other than the Dred Scot case of those of a similarly evil tilt) Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier is my least favorite Supreme Court Case, as it’s the only one that’s ever been used against me. I was editor-in-chief of my high school paper and was set to publish two op-eds that were critical of the school. The Hazelwood case enshrined a limitation on students’ freedom of speech in school-sponsored publications, deeming them school projects that therefore are subject to complete editorial censorship by the school administration. Our advisor took the critical pieces to our principal, who told me I could not run one of them and had to make edits to the other, that I had written.[1] I was livid, but swallowed my pride.

    Over two decades later, when I teach students about their free speech rights in school, my primary aim is to help them embrace and understand the rights they do have in school—particularly for political speech—as well as the fact that their free speech rights are not absolute.

  • Banning of our "Beloved" Books: A Call for Continued Conversation and Action

    It’s that bittersweet time of the year when my much-beloved copy of Beloved by Toni Morrison returns to its spot on my bookshelf. Beloved and I have had this routine since the 2011 National Book Festival. I am inspired to pick it up and read it, as an act of thanks for the opportunity to explore humanity beyond my own experiences, only to promptly return it to its rightful spot on the bookshelf upon completion. While the topics explored in this text were initially uncomfortable when I was first introduced to them in high school, I have come to find great comfort in this routine. This year, however, felt different and unsettling in ways that provided no comfort in completing my annual tradition. I knew that pulling my copy of Beloved from my shelf wasn’t going to be enough to make up for the fact that it, along with hundreds of other books, have been pulled from library shelves all over the United States, uncertain of when, or if, they will ever return.

  • At the Intersection of the Future of Work and Education

    A special issue of the New England Journal of Public Policy (Vol. 34, Issue 1, Spring/Summer 2022) featured essays on the topic of the Future of Work which were solicited by the American Federation of Teachers for a conference on the subject it jointly hosted with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Albert Shanker Institute on July 13, 2022. This is the fourth of these essays.

    In his article “At the Intersection of the Future of Work and Education,” David Edwards argues that what is truly needed is strong public education. The operation of school systems during the pandemic deepened long-standing problems of financing, segregation, inequality, and discrimination inside and between countries. Distance learning was a quantum leap in the use of artificial intelligence and other technology, depriving learners of social relationships. By consulting teachers and teachers unions on educational policy, the well-known problems of the education system can be combated, and triumphed against.

    Read the full article.

  • How Much Has Education Spending Increased Over Time?

    Our guest author today is Mark Weber, Special Analyst for Education Policy at the New Jersey Policy Perspective and a lecturer in education policy at Rutgers University.

    The issue of how much the U.S. spends on K-12 public schools rightfully receives a lot of attention. More often than not, these discussions rely on simple data, such as average per-pupil spending over time across the entire nation. I would argue that the variation in spending, both within and between states, is so enormous as to render national comparisons potentially misleading, and also that the more consequential question is not just how much states and districts spend, but whether their spending levels are commensurate with their costs.

    That said, overall spending trends are clearly important, and so let’s take a quick look at how much K-12 spending has increased in the U.S. over the past 25-30 years, using data from the School Finance Indicators Database (SFID). The SFID is an important resource for those who study and write about school finance, and so our brief examination of the spending trend also provides an opportunity for transparency: the stakeholders, policymakers, and journalists who rely on our work should know more about how we collect and prepare the data we use. “How much does the U.S. spend on schools?” may seem like a simple question, but proper measurement tends to complicate things.

  • Smart Education Technology: How It Might Transform Teaching (and Learning)

    A special issue of the New England Journal of Public Policy (Vol. 34, Issue 1, Spring/Summer 2022) featured essays on the topic of the Future of Work which were solicited by the American Federation of Teachers for a conference on the subject it jointly hosted with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Albert Shanker Institute on July 13, 2022. This is the third of these essays.

    In “Smart Education Technology: How It Might Transform Teaching (and Learning),” Stephan Vincent-Lancrin takes us on a journey showcasing the transformative potential already being implemented in the classroom, while also taking a deep dive into how teachers can and will be affected by smart technology.

  • I Don’t Like History... But I Love Civics

    In the second post of the Shanker Institute's Constitution Day 2022 Blog Series, guest author James Dawson, a UFT Teacher Center Instructional Coach at Paul L. Dunbar Middle School in the Bronx and Shanker Civics Fellow, contends that by infusing the concept of civic readiness into lessons, we are able to impart civic knowledge while encouraging civic engagement.

    When I first started coaching my school's social studies team, I was excited and naive. Excited by the chance to share my enthusiasm for (and, if I flatter myself, my considerable knowledge of) history Old World and New, ancient and modern. I was surprised to discover that my retention of the latter was considerably less than I had envisaged; I was surprised and dismayed that only a few students shared my enthusiasm. The narratives of the human experience that had drawn me to my history classes, my teachers’ descriptions of the earthier and less celebrated sides of well-known historical figures, their ponderings on the “could-have-beens” that would changed the course of the river of time, enthralled me.