Friday, November 5, 2010


In a June 3, 1990 column in The New York Times, Albert Shanker, President of the American Federation of Teachers, wrote:

“...It is also worth thinking about as we consider how to reform our education system. As we’ve known for a long time, factory workers who never saw the completed product and worked on only a small part of it soon became bored and demoralized, But when they were allowed to see the whole process—or better yet become involved in it—productivity and morale improved. Students are no different. When we chop up the work they do into little bits—history facts and vocabulary and grammar rules to be learned—it’s no wonder that they are bored and disengaged. The achievement of The Concord Review’s authors offers a different model of learning. Maybe it’s time for us to take it seriously.”


In a June 1993 letter to the MacArthur Foundation, Albert Shanker, President of the American Federation of Teachers, wrote:

“...Equally important, the published essays can let youngsters see what other students their own age are capable of and what they themselves can aspire to. The Review also has a vital message for teachers. American education suffers from an impoverishment of standards at all levels. We see that when we look at what is expected of students in other industrialized nations and at what they achieve. Could American students achieve at that level? Of course, but our teachers often have a hard time knowing exactly what they can expect of their students or even what a first-rate essay looks like. The Concord Review sets a high but realistic standard; and it could be invaluable for teachers trying to recalibrate their own standards of excellence.”

...Let me say that I think The Concord Review could be especially useful to poor and disadvantaged children and their teachers. Last year, I was privileged to hear John Jacob, the president of the National Urban League, talk about how poor black children, in particular, need to be held up to higher academic standards. Jacob believes that, instead of lowering our sights, we must raise them and demand high academic performance. Among the specific standards he suggested was that every African-American child—and in fact every American child—write a 25-page paper in order to graduate from high school. I think Jacob is right. I also think The Concord Review could be a vehicle for raising the sights of disadvantaged children and their teachers. And I plan to work with leaders in one or more of the American Federation of Teachers’ urban locals to help set up special issues of The Concord Review for their cities similar to the special International Baccalaureate issue the Review recently published.”

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