The election of Donald Trump and the rise of authoritarianism globally signal a crisis in democracy at home and abroad. While Trump's attacks on an independent judiciary, a free press and religious freedom have sparked overwhelming protest, his agenda to privatize public education and attack labor unions should be met with equal dissent. In the cover story of the Summer 2017 issue of American Educator, Richard D. Kahlenberg of the Century Foundation explains how public education and the labor movement are pillars of our democracy. As such, their survival depends on a commitment to "social justice unionism," which not only resists dangerous ideas but offers a transformational vision of public schooling, civil rights and economic opportunity for all.
An article by Yale University's Timothy Snyder, author of the book On Tyranny, expands on these thoughts by illustrating how history can help us avoid the mistakes of previous generations.
The next article, by Esther Quintero of the Albert Shanker Institute, explores the role collaboration plays in shaping teaching and learning. Research shows that strong professional environments where educators work together and trust one another increase teacher effectiveness. If they are serious about school improvement, policymakers should focus on the interpersonal ties among educators.
Building on this article are two others that also explore the power of partnerships. In the first one, a classroom teacher describes how collaborative structures enable educators at his high school to support each other and their students. In the second article, researchers explain how the departure of administrators, particularly in a school district's central office, can undermine trust in schools and disrupt educational priorities.
The issue also includes an article highlighting the importance of explicitly teaching students the fundamentals of writing well. And it concludes with an article about promising practices in using digital tools to engage underserved students in their learning.