Skip to main content

AFT President's Office: Bella Rosenberg Records

 Collection
Identifier: LR002605
The AFT President’s Office: Assistant to the President Bella Rosenberg Records contain correspondence, memos, notes, reports, manuscripts, books, brochures, press releases, surveys, minutes, VHS and audio cassette tapes, and photographic slides documenting the activities of the national office. The collection also contains articles, speeches, and testimonies, including, in some cases, multiple annotated drafts exchanged between Rosenberg and Shanker and Rosenberg and Feldman.

Series 1: Albert Shanker Files, 1964-2002 (Boxes 1-25, 40, 42-45) The Albert Shanker Files contain documents created under Shanker’s tenure as AFT President. These include extensive records relating to writing articles, including his weekly column, “Where We Stand”, and speeches and testimonies. Shanker and Rosenberg collaborated on these materials and many files contain various annotated drafts and correspondence with publishers. In addition, some materials related to Shanker’s passing, including various tributes, and correspondence related to and drafts of a posthumous biography are included. Audiovisual material includes slides, audiocassette tapes of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards AFT Ad Hoc Working Group, and various VHS tapes.

Series 2: Sandra Feldman Files, 1984-2003 (Box 25-27) The Sandra Feldman Files include documents created under her tenure as AFT President. These include articles, particularly the “Where We Stand” column she took over from Albert Shanker, speeches and testimonies, and correspondence.

Series 3: Bella Rosenberg Subject Files, 1971-2005 (Box 27-39, 41, 45-51) The Bella Rosenberg Subject Files contain documents created while working in the office of the AFT Presidents Albert Shanker and Sandra Feldman. Of particular note are files related to the Lessons for Life program in which Rosenberg was heavily involved, her research and writing based on the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress, her work with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, various AFT collaborations with the National Education Association, and documents related to vouchers and voucher programs in cities including Cleveland, Ohio, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Audiovisual material includes audiocassettes and VHS tapes of interviews and television appearances, and VHS tapes associated with the Lessons for Life Campaign.

Dates

  • 1964 - 2005
  • Majority of material found within 1979 - 2005

Language of Materials

Material primarily in English. Some materials in Spanish.

Access

Collection is open for research.

Use

Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials. Restrictions: Researchers may encounter records of a sensitive nature – personnel files, case records and those involving investigations, legal and other private matters. Privacy laws and restrictions imposed by the Library prohibit the use of names and other personal information which might identify an individual, except with written permission from the Director and/or the donor.

Extent

49.5 Linear Feet (3 MB, 48 SB)

Abstract

Bella Rosenberg served as the assistant to the president of the American Federation of Teachers from 1984-2005, under Albert Shanker and Sandra Feldman. Albert Shanker was president of the AFT from 1974 to 1997. He was one of the first educators to embrace the findings of the report A Nation at Risk which outlined extensive problems in America’s public schools. Shanker and Rosenberg worked closely on various initiatives, many of them in response to the report. This included a peer review program started at the Toledo Federation of Teachers Local 250, a teacher certification program called the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and in 1988, the concept of charter schools, which later took on a life of its own and became very different from Shanker’s original vision. Beginning in 1970, while Shanker was still president of New York’s United Federation of Teachers, he wrote a weekly column in the Sunday New York Times titled “Where We Stand”. He had to purchase advertising space in order to publish his writing. The weekly column lasted for 26 years. Sandra Feldman became Vice-President of the AFT in 1974, president of the UFT in 1986, and took over presidency of the AFT upon Shanker’s death in 1997. She was also involved in the AFL-CIO and Education International, a worldwide federation of teachers’ unions. During her AFT presidency, she strengthened the union’s relationship with the National Education Association, though a vote to merge with the NEA did not pass. Feldman served as AFT president until 2004. Rosenberg collaborated with Shanker and Feldman on many projects and initiatives for the AFT. They worked together on articles and speeches, particularly Shanker’s “Where We Stand” column. Rosenberg was a primary force in AFT’s Lessons for Life Campaign in the mid-1990s, which sought to address issues raised in A Nation at Risk. Rosenberg worked on a report released by the AFT in 2004, for which she analyzed data from the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress to conclude charter schools were performing worse than traditional public schools. She also gave many of her own speeches and interviews as a representative of the AFT. The AFT President’s Office: Assistant to the President Bella Rosenberg Records contain correspondence, memos, notes, reports, manuscripts, books, brochures, press releases, surveys, minutes, VHS and audio cassette tapes, and photographic slides documenting the activities of the national office. The collection also contains articles, speeches, and testimonies, including, in some cases, multiple annotated drafts exchanged between Rosenberg and Shanker and Rosenberg and Feldman.

History

Bella Rosenberg served as the assistant to the president of the American Federation of Teachers from 1984-2005, under Albert Shanker and Sandra Feldman. Albert Shanker was president of the AFT from 1974 to 1997. He was one of the first educators to embrace the findings of the report A Nation at Risk which outlined extensive problems in America’s public schools. Shanker and Rosenberg worked closely on various initiatives, many of them in response to the report. This included a peer review program started at the Toledo Federation of Teachers Local 250, a teacher certification program called the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and in 1988, the concept of charter schools, which later took on a life of its own and became very different from Shanker’s original vision. Beginning in 1970, while Shanker was still president of New York’s United Federation of Teachers, he wrote a weekly column in the Sunday New York Times titled “Where We Stand”. He had to purchase advertising space in order to publish his writing. The weekly column lasted for 26 years. Sandra Feldman became Vice-President of the AFT in 1974, president of the UFT in 1986, and took over presidency of the AFT upon Shanker’s death in 1997. She was also involved in the AFL-CIO and Education International, a worldwide federation of teachers’ unions. During her AFT presidency, she strengthened the union’s relationship with the National Education Association, though a vote to merge with the NEA did not pass. Feldman served as AFT president until 2004.

Rosenberg collaborated with Shanker and Feldman on many projects and initiatives for the AFT. They worked together on articles and speeches, particularly Shanker’s “Where We Stand” column. Rosenberg was a primary force in AFT’s Lessons for Life Campaign in the mid-1990s, which sought to address issues raised in A Nation at Risk. Rosenberg worked on a report released by the AFT in 2004, for which she analyzed data from the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress to conclude charter schools were performing worse than traditional public schools. She also gave many of her own speeches and interviews as a representative of the AFT.

Arrangement

Part I: Arranged in 3 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-25, 40, 42-45), Series 2 (Boxes 25-27) and Series 3 (Boxes 27-39, 41, 45-51). Folders within the series are arranged alphabetically by subject and thereunder chronologically by date. However, additional boxes added to the collection (boxes 42-51) are simply listed at the end of series 1 and 3 and are not in any particular order. Another exception in Series 3 are the “Voucher Files” (Boxes 37-38), which are arranged alphabetically by title, reflecting their original order.
Part II: Original file inventories by Karen Kneeland and Doug Ross of AFT are available in the case file. Note that these inventories do not necessarily reflect the exact order of the folders when they were received by the Reuther, nor their current arrangement. Some inventories contain item level descriptions of folder contents, and some have additional notes on the content or creation of the files and these notes are often duplicated in notes attached to the folders themselves. File folders are typically labeled AS (for Albert Shanker), SF (Sandra Feldman), or BR (Bella Rosenberg). The abbreviation “DR” refers to Doug Ross, Rosenberg’s secretary.

Acquisition

The AFT President’s Office: Assistant to the President Bella Rosenberg Records were placed in the Reuther on January 5, 2006 and February 16, 2007.

Related Materials

Related collections at the Reuther include: AFT President's Office: Albert Shanker Records; Albert Shanker Papers; AFT Oral History Project Tom Mooney, Louise Sundin, and Sandra Feldman; AFT Ohio Federation of Teachers

Transfers

Slides and VHS and audiocassette tapes (Boxes 40 and 41) were transferred to the Reuther’s Audiovisual Department.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Stefanie Caloia on November 21, 2014.
Title
Guide to the AFT President's Office: Bella Rosenberg Records
Status
completed
Author
Processed by Stefanie Caloia.
Date
2014-11-21
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English

Revision Statements

  • 2016-02-15: Added boxes 42-51.

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

Contact:
5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA