American Labor in U.S. History Textbooks

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American Labor in U.S. History Textbooks

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Paul E. Almeida Landon Butler Barbara Byrd-Bennett David K. Cohen Antonia Cortese Rudolph Crew Thomas R. Donahue Bob Edwards Carl Gershman Milton Goldberg Ernest G. Green Linda Darling Hammond E. D. Hirsch, Jr. Sol Hurwitz Clifford B. Janey Lorretta Johnson Susan Moore Johnson Ted Kirsch Nat LaCour Stanley S. Litow Michael Maccoby Herb Magidson Edward J. McElroy Stephanie Powers Diane Ravitch Richard Riley William Scheuerman William Schmidt Randi Weingarten Deborah L. Wince-Smith

American Labor in U.S. History Textbooks:

How Labor's Story is Distorted in High School History Textbooks

He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future.

George Orwell, 1984

Not a single labor topic, except industrial vs. craft unions, was adequately described or

explained in the majority of textbooks. Not a single U.S. history text did more than mention

the political activities of unions, both historically and presently--despite the fact that the very

educational institution the student now occupies is, at least in part, a result of such activities.

Only two of the history texts went beyond mentioning that all-important labor-management

practice of free collective bargaining.

-- Will Scoggins

high school history teacher and University of California researcher, in a 1966 report on anti-labor bias in school textbooks and curricula

THE ALBERT SHANKER INSTITUTE|1

The Albert Shanker Institute, endowed by the American Federation of Teachers and named in honor of its late president, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to three themes-- children's education, unions as advocates for quality, and both civic education and freedom of association in the public life of democracies. Its mission is to generate ideas, foster candid exchanges, and promote constructive policy proposals related to these issues. The Institute commissions original analyses, organizes seminars, sponsors publications and subsidizes selected projects. Its independent board of directors is composed of educators, business representatives, labor leaders, academics, and public policy analysts.

Acknowledgments The foundations of this report are the result of many months of work by three experts in labor history, Paul F. Cole, Lori Megivern, and Jeff Hilgert. Each has brought so much to this endeavor, and we wish to express our thanks and appreciation. Paul Cole, the founder and director of the American Labor Studies Center, is doing much to keep the history of labor alive for the next generations, through the Center's efforts to collect and disseminate labor history and labor studies curricula to K-12 teachers across the nation. Lori Megivern is a Fulbright Fellow and American Councils for International Education Teacher of Excellence who studied and taught in numerous countries. Jeff Hilgert brought a deep expertise in labor history and labor studies to this project. He is a Ph.D. candidate in industrial and labor relations at Cornell University, with a focus on workplace health and safety. In researching this report, these three gave generously of their time, richness of experience and expertise. They enriched this report both through their frontline knowledge as teachers and their activism in current, vital labor issues. We believe that they have produced a compelling, thoughtful document that makes a powerful case: that America's students suffer an immeasurable loss when labor history is left out of the American story taught in our nation's classrooms. We would also like to thank Professor Jeff Mirel, at the University of Michigan for his keen editorial contributions. We deeply appreciate Christina Bartolomeo's skillful research, editing, and substantive suggestions. Her work was invaluable. Finally, our thanks to historian of education, author, and educational policy expert Diane Ravitch. She first suggested the idea for this report, and has been one of our nation's leading advocates for rich, quality curricula in American schools, including books, learning materials, and curriculum content that prepare children to be contributing, questioning, thoughtful participants in our democracy.

2|AMERICAN LABOR IN U.S. HISTORY TEXTBOOKS

Contents

Introduction 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Note on Methods and Approach 10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Section One 11 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining Section Two 17 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Just and Favorable Working Conditions Section Three 21 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Social Protection and Human Dignity Section Four 28 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Equality and Freedom from Discrimination Conclusion 32 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Our Recommendations for Textbook Publishers References 34 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Note on Methods and Approach Figure 1 35 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Labor History Reviewed Author Biographies 36 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

THE ALBERT SHANKER INSTITUTE|3

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