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Albert Shanker's National Fight for Teachers

In American politics, beating up on teachers unions is a lot like kissing babies. It may not get you more votes, but it can't hurt. This presidential election season is no different. Republican candidates, in particular, blame teachers unions for standing in the way of meaningful changes.

Union leaders have usually dismissed this criticism as "pure politics." But the late Albert Shanker, who was president both of the United Federation of Teachers and later the American Federation of Teachers, argued vigorously that unions needed to counter and prove their critics wrong.

A new book examines how Shanker tried to do that and why his ideas have had such a lasting impact on schools, unions and politics.

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