desmond elliott 2017 likeyoulove
Search our site
Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber Read the opening extract of the brand new Kathleen Barber book before its publication on 27/12/2017

Tough Liberal Albert Shanker and the Battles Over Schools, Unions, Race, and Democracy by Richard D. Kahlenberg

Tough Liberal Albert Shanker and the Battles Over Schools, Unions, Race, and Democracy

Part of the Columbia Studies in Contemporary American History Series


Tough Liberal Albert Shanker and the Battles Over Schools, Unions, Race, and Democracy by Richard D. Kahlenberg

In Woody Allen's 1973 film, Sleeper, a character wakes up in the future to learn that civilization was destroyed when a man by the name of Albert Shanker got hold of a nuclear warhead. Shanker was condemned by many when he shut down the New York City school system in the bitter strikes of 1967 and 1968, and he was denounced for stirring up animosity between black parents and Jewish teachers. Later, however, he built alliances with blacks, and at the time of his death in 1997, such figures as Bill Clinton celebrated Shanker for being an educational reformer, a champion of equality, and a promoter of democracy abroad. Shanker lived the lives of several men bound into one. In his early years, he was the George Washington of the teaching profession, helping to found modern teacher unionism. During the 1980s, as head of the American Federation of Teachers, he became the nation's leading education reformer. Shanker supported initiatives for high education standards and accountability, teacher-led charter schools, and a system of peer review to weed out inadequate teachers. Throughout his life, Shanker also fought for tough liberalism, an ideology favoring public education and trade unions but also colorblind policies and a robust anticommunism--all of which, Shanker believed, were vital to a commitment to democracy. Although he had a coherent worldview, Shanker was a complex individual. He began his career as a pacifist but evolved into a leading defense and foreign policy hawk. He was an intellectual and a populist; a gifted speaker who failed at small talk; a liberal whose biggest enemies were often on the left; a talented writer who had to pay to have his ideas published; and a gruff unionist who enjoyed shopping and detested sports. Richard D. Kahlenberg's biography is the first to offer a complete narrative of one of the most important voices in public education and American politics in the last half century. At a time when liberals are accused of not knowing what they stand for, Tough Liberal illuminates an engaging figure who suggested an alternative liberal path.


This book is a must-read for those interested in educational or labor history. Historian A thoroughly researched and engaging biography. -- Arch Puddington The Wall Street Journal [A] fascinating biography. -- Sol Stern City Journal At once exquisitely complex and grandly contextual. -- Martin Peretz The New Republic A well-drawn portrait. -- Scott McLemee Newsday Judicious and engaging. -- Fred Siegel Weekly Standard [A] timely new biography. -- Sara Mosle Slate An engaging book, and essential reading for anyone interested in the history of Cold War liberalism and its complicated legacy. -- Scott McLemee Inside Higher Ed An excellent new biography. -- Jal Mehta American Prospect A must read for unionists, educators, politicians and democracy internationalists trying to make sense of the persistent failings of U.S. education. -- Eugenia Kemble Democratiya A spirited and readable biography. -- Adam Fairclough Washington Post Named one of the American School Board Journal's must-reads of the year. American School Board Journal [This book] is an important contribution to the history of American education reform. -- Nathan Glazer Education Next An important new biography. The Politico A must-read for those interested in educational or labor history. Historian

About the Author

Richard D. Kahlenberg is a senior fellow at The Century Foundation and the author of All Together Now: Creating Middle-Class Schools through Public School Choice; The Remedy: Class, Race, and Affirmative Action; and Broken Contract: A Memoir of Harvard Law School.

More books by this author
Author 'Like for Like' recommendations

Loading other formats...

Book Info

Publication date

3rd July 2009


Richard D. Kahlenberg

More books by Richard D. Kahlenberg
Author 'Like for Like'


Columbia University Press


552 pages


Biography: general



It's information about new books so, for a book lover like me, what's not to like!

Joan Hill

I love reading because my cares & woes vanish for an hour or two whilst I read of the joys, adventures, lives of the characters in the book.

Jennifer Moville

Lovereading is a world of books. It has everything you need from new to old and much loved classic books. It even give you recommendations!

Kate Thurston

I read new, exciting writers and established authors before publication and there is a great website full of brilliant books and opinions.


Lovereading tells me about new books before they hit the shelves, lets me find other authors I may like and has great prize draws!

Sheila Dale

Lovereading is not only an amazing site, but it's one of my very favourites. It's like visiting a fascinating bookstore, but better.

Rebecca Jayne Barrett

Lovereading is a wonderful way to expand my literary horizons, discover inspiring authors & get the chance to read new novels first. #loveit

Zarina de Ruiter

Lovereading is an amazing place to be, the website is wonderful and to me if I'm sad I'll go here and it cheers me up!

Sophia Upton