Federal conference scheduled on district-union relationships
As announced in October during federal Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's visit to Tampa, the Department of Education has announced a national conference next month in Denver to find ways to bring teachers' unions and school districts together to promote student achievement.
“We have seen how good labor-management relations can create the conditions that drive student success," Duncan said in a statement, "so we want to bring together leaders in labor and management who are committed to collaboration around bold reforms.”
During his visit, Duncan highlighted the successes of districts like Hillsborough, Pittsburgh and Denver in setting aside labor-management disputes.
But the department has opened the doors wide for this conference, sending out invitations to 2,000 districts that have received money from federal programs like Race to the Top, the Teacher Incentive Fund, School Improvement Grants and Investing in Innovation. To attend, those districts will have to pledge to tackle tough problems together, and then get randomly selected. More from the press release:
"To attend, the board president, superintendent and teacher union or teacher association leader must all agree to attend the conference. In their RSVP, all attendees must further pledge to 'collaboratively develop and implement policies in such areas as: setting strategic direction to advance student achievement and aligning all labor-management work with this overarching focus, including ways to share responsibility and hold each other accountable for results; and more effectively supporting the work of teachers, leaders, and administrators in advancing student achievement by improving such systems and structures as organizing teaching and learning time and schedules, and processes for the hiring, retention, compensation, development, and evaluation of a highly effective workforce.'
"Duncan said, 'We're setting a high bar for attendance at this conference because these school districts and labor leaders will have to go back home and do some very hard work to ensure that student success is the central goal in everything that they do.'
"Duncan thanked the Ford Foundation for supporting the conference, adding, 'The current financial outlook is bleak for many states and schools districts and we are deeply grateful that the Ford Foundation is supporting innovations that put children first. This kind of support helps ensure that financial challenges will not impede education reform.' ...
"The event is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education in partnership with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the National School Boards Association, the American Association of School Administrators, the Council of the Great City Schools, and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. Funding to support the conference is being provided by the Ford Foundation."