AFT Convention: Keynote Address

This document is comprised of two speeches. The first is the keynote address at the 1990 AFT convention. Al Shanker discusses what has been accomplished in the two years since the previous convention. He comments on the growth of the union, noting how they now represent professional teachers, paraprofessionals, school-related workers, health care workers, and city and local employees. Shanker also discussed challenges and opportunities encountered in the last two years, including the chance to meet Nelson Mandela because of AFT's role in the anti-apartheid movement and the chance to work with Eastern European countries to teach them about unions and how to teach democracy in their schools. The second speech focuses on education reform. Shanker applauds the government's establishment of educational goals, noting it was the first time such goals had been set. Next, he brings up numerous ideas for reform, urging the audience to make it happen. He suggests taking one school in a district and making it a laboratory for reform. He says that then it is easier to point outside critics to this school to illustrate the efforts being made at reform. Next, Shanker addresses vouchers and the dangers he sees in them. He urges the audience to do a better job of convincing government not to abandon public schools for private school vouchers. Finally Shanker talks about why the union should not limit its role to fighting for higher wages and better working conditions and why education reform is also the job of the union. He asserts that education reform would improve working conditions. Shanker also notes that the union is in a unique and knowledgeable position to carry out true reform.

Boston, MA
9 pages
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