AFT President's Office: Assistant to the President Bella Rosenberg Records

Accession Number: 
LR002605
Extent: 
49.5 linear feet (3 MB, 48 SB)
Date: 
1964-2005, bulk 1979-2005

Bella Rosenberg served as the assistant to the president of the American Federation of Teachers from 1984-2005, under Albert Shanker and Sandra Feldman. Albert Shanker was president of the AFT from 1974 to 1997. He was one of the first educators to embrace the findings of the report A Nation at Risk which outlined extensive problems in America’s public schools. Shanker and Rosenberg worked closely on various initiatives, many of them in response to the report. This included a peer review program started at the Toledo Federation of Teachers Local 250, a teacher certification program called the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and in 1988, the concept of charter schools, which later took on a life of its own and became very different from Shanker’s original vision. Beginning in 1970, while Shanker was still president of New York’s United Federation of Teachers, he wrote a weekly column in the Sunday New York Times titled “Where We Stand”. He had to purchase advertising space in order to publish his writing. The weekly column lasted for 26 years. Sandra Feldman became Vice-President of the AFT in 1974, president of the UFT in 1986, and took over presidency of the AFT upon Shanker’s death in 1997. She was also involved in the AFL-CIO and Education International, a worldwide federation of teachers’ unions. During her AFT presidency, she strengthened the union’s relationship with the National Education Association, though a vote to merge with the NEA did not pass. Feldman served as AFT president until 2004.

Rosenberg collaborated with Shanker and Feldman on many projects and initiatives for the AFT. They worked together on articles and speeches, particularly Shanker’s “Where We Stand” column. Rosenberg was a primary force in AFT’s Lessons for Life Campaign in the mid-1990s, which sought to address issues raised in A Nation at Risk. Rosenberg worked on a report released by the AFT in 2004, for which she analyzed data from the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress to conclude charter schools were performing worse than traditional public schools. She also gave many of her own speeches and interviews as a representative of the AFT.

The AFT President’s Office: Assistant to the President Bella Rosenberg Records contain correspondence, memos, notes, reports, manuscripts, books, brochures, press releases, surveys, minutes, VHS and audio cassette tapes, and photographic slides documenting the activities of the national office. The collection also contains articles, speeches, and testimonies, including, in some cases, multiple annotated drafts exchanged between Rosenberg and Shanker and Rosenberg and Feldman.

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