Institute for Educational Policy Studies: “Teacher Unions: Past, Present and Future Influence”

Al Shanker discusses the history and development of teachers' unions in the United States. He traces the changing focus of teachers' unions from collective bargaining to larger questions of education policy to an expanded approach to politics. Shanker argues that teachers should pay attention to energy, trade, and commerce policies, for instance, because these policies affect the taxes which fund the public schools. Shanker believes that interest and involvement in the larger political picture will help put teachers in a position to enhance public opinion of education. This, he hopes, will allow teachers to effectively urge government to treat systemic problems within public schools rather than create alternative education systems to address them. Shanker states, “The federal government says to the schools, 'do this,' does not provide the ability for the schools to do it, and then creates financial support for alternative institutions which do not come under any of those regulations that the public schools are put under.” Shanker hopes that an increased political role for teachers will help reverse this trend and improve education as well as the public's perception of it.

19 pages
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