Teaching Class Solidarity

Students aren’t likely to learn much about the way that unions have shaped economic and social policy if they stick to traditional textbooks, according to a report by the Albert Shanker Institute, a pro-labor group named for a longtime leader of the American Federation of Teachers. The 2011 study of four popular textbooks on American history found that coverage of the labor movement was “narrow and sometimes seriously misleading.”

“Textbooks tend to be tilted to the perspectives of the Rockefellers and the du Ponts and the Morgans, and don’t do a fair job in terms of representing the conditions that working people were toiling under, or the often difficult struggles they had to engage in to establish basic rights,” says Leo Casey, the Shanker Institute’s executive director.