California Educator

MARCH 2011

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Labor-management summit highlights collaboration T he first-ever Advancing Student Achievement Through Labor- Management Collaboration conference was held Feb. 15-16 in Denver, and was attended by several CTA members who gave it mixed reviews. One hundred and fifty district teams — consist- ing of a teachers union leader, administrator and school board member — were selected by lottery to attend the conference designed to bridge the differences between labor and management. Teams pledged to work together collaboratively. Attendees spent two days in seminars led by presenting districts about reform mod- els, and then teams regrouped for collaboration time. Here’s what CTA attendees had to say: Dennis Wright, president of the Monterey Bay Teachers Association “I was intrigued by the possibilities of working col- laboratively with my district. We’ve done some things in the past that have worked to ever yone’s benefit, and I wanted to find out what else was out there to help us im- prove the performance of students, teachers and the district as a whole. I brought back some tips on how to identify projects we can work on collaboratively and ways that we can build trust among teachers, administrators and school board members to im- prove communication. Dur- ing sessions wi th other districts I found labor-man- a gement col l a b o ra t ion models that were useful and valuable and that we could clone outright or do a varia- tion of. I had no interest in discussing ways of linking stu- dent performance to teacher test scores or merit pay.” 22 California Educator | MARCH 2011 Aaron Williamson, presi- dent of the Ravenswood Dis- trict Teachers Association “I felt that merit pay and val- ue-added assessment and doing away with due process were the hidden agenda behind this con- ference. I went to one workshop that promoted ‘innovation grants’ given by government, but to me the word ‘innovation’ meant throwing out the bar- gaining contract and union busting altogether. I felt like I had a target on my back in that room. But it was a valuable ex- perience to be part of the dia- logue. I wanted to understand the issues more in depth from a union perspective and a non- union perspective, since educa- tion is under attack from every angle. I did appreciate presen- tations about how other dis- tricts are revamping their teacher evaluation systems. I think we can all agree that the current system doesn’t work. Some districts implemented extreme value-added evaluation systems, and other districts opt- ed for multiple measures in- cluding peer evaluation. It was interesting to see districts will- ing to take risks and try pilot projects.” The conference was sponsored by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan in collaboration with the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the American Association of School Administrators, the National School Boards Association, and others. It was funded by the Ford Foundation. Duncan, in his opening remarks, urged administration and union leaders to put an end to “ceaseless conflict,” and noted that collaboration is not for cowards. He told participants that he did not expect teams to emerge with new agreements, but was hoping for progress. day, and joint union-manage- ment committees. Working on a collaborative relationship between unions and manage- ment is best for students. Man- agement has responsibilities that they must honor while making decisions (sustainabil- ity, etc.), and unions have dif- ferent responsibilities (teacher autonomy, etc.), but the com- mon interest should be student success. If conversations can be centered around this, with mutual understanding of ev- eryone’s other responsibilities, a collaborative relationship can ensue.” Arielle Zurzolo, president of Asociación de Maestros Uni- dos (and presenter for Green Dot Public Schools) “I was extremely glad to be part of the national conversa- tion about school reform. I am proud of the reform efforts that my district is part of, in- cluding site-based decision making, a professional work- Lloyd Walzer, president of the Lucia Mar Unified Teachers Association “I met with our superinten- dent and school board president

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