Wisconsin Teaching Labor History Law

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

In December of 2009, the Wisconsin legislature passed a law making that state the first to require the incorporation of the “history of organized labor in America and the collective bargaining process” into the state standards for social studies.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction assembled a statewide group to develop an implementation plan and focused on two basic questions:

  1. What do you want students to know about the history of organized labor and the collective bargaining process; and
  2. What do you want students to gain from learning of organized labor and
    the collective bargaining process?

The Wisconsin Educational Communications Board has created a comprehensive and excellent web site to help teachers find resources to engage their students in the implementation of the law including sections on Wisconsin Labor History, Child Labor, U.S. Labor History, Music and the Arts in Labor History, People in Labor History and Lesson Plans.

The site also includes links to the Wisconsin Historical Society Labor Collections and the Wisconsin Labor History Society. The Wisconsin law and implementation strategies are a very good model for other states or school districts to adopt as well as a guide for the revision of the Common Core social studies standards.

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