The nation has just celebrated Labor Day, yet few Americans have any idea why. A new report on how the history of labor is treated in high school history textbooks offers an explanation—most Americans never got any education about the labor movement's proper place in our country's history and its many contributions to the nation's development.
"American Labor and U.S. History Textbooks: How Labor's Story Is Distorted in High School History Textbooks," sponsored by the Albert Shanker Institute, in cooperation with the American Labor Studies Center, surveys four major textbooks that together account for most of the market in U.S. history textbooks. The report notes that these textbooks often present labor history in a biased, negative way; for example, focusing on strikes and strike violence while giving little or no attention to the employer abuse and violence that were usually at the root of such actions. Their persistent focus on conflict overrides any attention to labor's central historical role in bringing generations of Americans into the middle class.
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