Giving Shanker Credit For What He Wanted To Do
I wish Slate had taken my piece about Al Shanker (How Al Shanker Blew Up No Child Left Behind) instead of Sara Mosle's recent review, but I'm happy to report that Mosle and I make some of the same points. For example, that Shanker's work unionizing teachers affects nearly every classroom teacher to this day. ("Today, there isn't a teacher in America whose life hasn't been touched by Shanker's own.") But we disagree about his legacy, in that Mosle (The Man Who Transformed American Education) gives more credit to Shanker for his ideas and "prescience" than I do. Journalists and pundits and wonks (and AFTies) like to focus on all the rest -- the "good" Shanker, the ideas, the potential -- but to me, Shanker is all about his real-world accomplishments, which are powerful and far-reaching but aren't most of them really about school reform.