About the Albert Shanker Institute
The Albert Shanker Institute is a nonprofit organization established in 1998 by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) to honor the life and legacy of its late president.
Al Shanker was an activist intellectual. He spent his life developing ideas that work and working to turn ideas into reality. In one way or another, these ideas—and the policies, programs, and institutions he built upon them—all had to do with the strengthening of democracy.
The son of immigrants and a product of the New York City public schools, the promise of democracy was the touchstone for every aspect of Al's public life. An early civil rights activist, he worked for the creation of a just and inclusive America whose diverse peoples would be drawn together by common values. This commitment also led Al to devote his life to the two institutions he believed to be the most indispensable to democracy's sustenance and expansion: good public schools that would ensure the right of every child to a quality education, and strong trade unions that would ensure the right of every worker to a voice in the workplace and in the economic and political life of the nation.
Thus, the work of the Albert Shanker Institute is concentrated on these three fields—education, labor, and democracy—with a mandate to establish itself as a thoughtful and non-doctrinaire source of data, analysis and commentary on issues of public importance, especially issues involving children, the roles of unions, and the means for strengthening democracy. The institute's founders also hoped that it could help opinion makers and the public understand the perspective of the AFT on important issues and appreciate the union's efforts to help improve public schools, build democratic values and institutions, and bring new perspectives, roles, and allies to the work of unions.
Since its inception, the institute has used its limited resources to find, explore, and publicize new and workable answers to many tough educational, social, political, and economic questions. These efforts have been pursued through modest grant awards; funding research papers and other publications; hosting lectures; organizing study trips; working with partners to host large public conferences; and sponsoring small seminars and forums. Many of these seminars are off-the-record, encouraging lively, honest debate and new understandings.
These efforts are directed by and accountable to a diverse and distinguished board of directors representing the richness of Al Shanker's commitments and concerns.
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