Tampa Bay districts and unions meet in Denver
Sometimes it takes a field trip to break out of the same old arguments between labor and management.
That's the theory behind a two-day conference held this week in Denver by the federal Department of Education. Hillsborough County officials were among 13 districts invited to talk about how they bridged their differences and forged contracts that toughened up teacher evaluation systems and linked pay to student test scores. And both Pasco and Pinellas county officials were among 150 chosen by lottery to attend, after pledging to give collaboration a real try.
Speaking by cell phone, Hillsborough teachers' union president Jean Clements said she saw at least a few examples of districts and unions with rocky relationships who were trying to turn over a new leaf.
"By the questions they asked, it was clear they weren't getting along real well yet," she said. "They asked very pointed questions."