University Resources, Operations and Policies


The Frances Perkins Forum

Educating for workers’ rights and economic justice

The Frances Perkins Forum loudly counters the silencing of working-class voices and labor interests in the schools. We facilitate professional development forums for teachers, develop creative curriculums exploring issues relevant to working families,and encourage active civic participation by students and their teachers.

  • Young people in U.S. schools learn a lot about the titans of industry who are said to have “built this country,” but very little about working-class history of the labor heroes who fought for a more just society.

  • Many young workers do not know how benefits such as the 40-hour work week, overtime pay, retirement benefits, or workplace safety standards were accomplished, and therefore do not have sense of what can be done when benefits are taken away or workplace safety is compromised.

  • Today’s youth grow up in a media culture saturated with anti-labor messages and contempt for working-class individuals and culture. Working-class and pro-labor voices are often ignored or belittled within our corporate dominated media.

  • American students are taught how to compete individually but not how to organize for change in our communities, workplaces, or civic institutions.

Francis-PerkinsAbout Frances Perkins

Frances Perkins advocated for women’s rights and labor rights during her early career as a social worker and a professor of sociology at Adelphi College.

Her leadership skills brought her to the top levels of New York State government before she was appointed the first female presidential cabinet member as Secretary of Labor under FDR. 

Perkins was forceful voice for the rights of working people and the power of collective organizing. She shepherded many New Deal reforms including unemployment insurance, child labor laws, a minimum wage,and Social Security Insurance. Perkins, one of the most influential women in U.S. history, would become known as the “Mother of the New Deal.”

We honor her legacy by educating and advocating for a more just and equitable society.

Read more about Perkins at the Frances Perkins Center website.


Steering Committee

Rob Linné
Professor and Director, Adolescent Education
Department of Curriculum and Instruction
Adelphi University
p – 516.877.4411
e –

Leigh Benin, Ph.D.

Mary Finn
Lecturer Emeritus
Department of Educational Organization, Administration & Policy
State University of New York at Buffalo
e –

Patrick Finn, Ph.D.
University at Buffalo

Advisory Board

Stanley Aronowitz
Graduate Center
City University of New York

Paul F. Cole
Executive Director
American Labor Studies Center
and Secretary-Treasurer Emeritus
New York State AFL-CIO

Myrna Cherkos Donahoe
California State University,
Dominguez Hills

Stuart Eimer
Widener University

Fred Glass
Communications Director
California Federation of Teachers,
and Faculty at the Labor and Community Studies Department
City College of San Francisco

Gary Hansen
Executive Director
Aspen Foundation for Labour Education

Robert Hatfield
Education Director
Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada

Lauri Johnson
University at Buffalo

Mike Mulgrew
United Federation of Teachers (UFT)

Cesar Rossatto
University of Texas at El Paso

Cindy Rottman
Centre for Leadership and Diversity
OISE/University of Toronto

Bill Scheuerman
National Labor College

Susan Schurman
Rutgers University

Howard Stevenson
University of Lincoln, UK

Linda Tubach
California Federation of Teachers
Los Angeles Unified School District Collective Bargaining Education Project

Daniel Walkowitz
New York University

Lois Weiner
New Jersey City University and AFT

Collaborative Partners

American Labor Studies Center
The ALSC is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to collect, analyze, evaluate, create, and disseminate labor history and labor studies curricula and related materials to K–12 teachers, in alignment with state and national standards.

California Labor in the Schools Committee
As the statewide affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, the CFT represents faculty and other school employees in public and private schools and colleges, from early childhood through higher education.

Chalk Project
An annual community-wide commemoration of the 1911 Triangle Factory Fire in New York City on March 25 .

The Dolores Huerta Labor Institute
DHLI focuses on developing educational opportunities for students that better prepares them academically for the workforce and social justice efforts.

Labor Arts
A virtual museum that presents powerful images that help us understand the past and present lives of working people. Labor Arts gathers, identifies and displays images of the cultural artifacts of working people organizations.

New York City Labor Chorus
This Chorus promotes union solidarity by expressing through song the history and ongoing struggles of workers for economic and social justice.

Freire Project: Critical Pedagogy Reading Room and Teacher Resources
The Freire Project is dedicated to building an international critical community to promote social justice in a variety of cultural contexts. It is committed to conducting and sharing social, political, and educational research.


Labor and Workers’ Rights Research

The New York City Triangle Factory Fire
Edited by Rob Linné, Leigh Benin, and Andi Sosin

Organizing the Curriculum: Perspectives on Teaching the US Labor Movement
Edited by Rob Linné, Leigh Benin, and Andi Sosin

Teacher Education with an Attitude: Preparing Teachers to Educate Working-Class Students in their Collective Self-Interest
Edited by Patrick Finn and Mary Finn

Articles and Book Chapters

Linné, R. Benin, L. & Sosin, A. (In Press 2009). Talking Union in the Schools: A Labor Perspective on Social Justice Education. Journal of Educational Foundations.

Sosin, A.  Benin, L. & Linné, R. (In Press 2009). Organizing the Curriculum: Changing What Students Learn about Unions in School. New Voices in Labour Studies.

Linné, R. Benin, L. & Sosin, A. (Spring 2009). Teaching Labor’s Untold Story: How to Get Labor Back into the Classroom. New Labor Forum (85-94).

Sosin, A. Benin, L. & Linné, R. (2009). Collaborating for Labor Consciousness: The Education & Labor Collaborative in Collaboration in Education, edited by Judith Slater and Ruth Ravid.

For further information about the Frances Perkins Forum, please contact:

Rob Linné
Professor and Director, Adolescent Education
Department of Curriculum and Instruction
Adelphi University
p – 516.877.4411
e –

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