Albert Shanker Quotes

Albert Shanker (September 14, 1928 – February 22, 1997) was president of the United Federation of Teachers from 1964 to 1985 and president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) from 1974 to 1997

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Albert Shanker


When school children start paying union dues, that 's when I'll start representing the interests of school children.

Albert Shanker


As teachers, we must constantly try to improve schools and we must keep working at changing and experimenting and trying until we have developed ways of reaching every child.

Albert Shanker


“The next time anyone is inclined to sneer at the basics as "traditional," I suggest he or she visit with a 12th -or even a sixth-grader who can barely read, write or compute and look at the pain and frustration on that student's face”

Albert Shanker


“There is no more reason to pay for private education than there is to pay for a private swimming pool for those who do not use public facilities.”

Albert Shanker


“It's time to admit that public education operates like a planned economy, a bureaucratic system in which everybody's role is spelled out in advance and there are few incentives for innovation and productivity. It's no surprise that our school system doesn't improve; it more resembles the communist economy than our own market economy.”

Albert Shanker


The key is that unless there is accountability, we will never get the right system. As long as there are no consequences if kids or adults don't perform, as long as the discussion is not about education and student outcomes, then we're playing a game as to who has the power.

Albert Shanker


The teachers unions are the clearest example of a group that has lost its way. Whenever anyone dares to offer a new idea, the unions protest the loudest. Their attitude was memorably expressed by a longtime president of the American Federation of Teachers: He said, quote, 'When school children start paying union dues, that's when I'll start representing the interests of children.'

Albert Shanker


I would rather die having spoken in my way, than live having spoken in yours

Albert Shanker


School disruption comes from those children who have given up hope.

Albert Shanker


“We've got a lemon factory and we're turning out 80-85 percent lemons.”

Albert Shanker