To build on the state’s knowledge base about how labor-management partnerships work and their impact on school effectiveness, the CDE Foundation sponsored case studies of 3 California school districts that are engaged in labor-management collaboration and have participated in at least one of the CA LMI convenings.
Ken Futernick, the principal investigator for these case studies, spent one day in each of the three districts conducting group interviews with superintendents, district administrators, board members, union leaders, principals, teachers, and staff. The interviews focused on these four questions:
Alhambra Unified, located 9 miles east of Los Angeles, serves nearly 18,000 students. The 2008 recession that led to severe cuts to school budgets throughout the nation also exacerbated the already strained relations between Alhambra’s management and its teacher and classified staff unions. But the district’s board of trustees took an unusual step—they decided to face their budget crisis and a host of other educational problems by working with their unions.
Alhambra’s unions representing teachers and classified staff welcomed the opportunity to collaborate and have since taken steps to work as partners rather than adversaries with board members and administrators. Alhambra’s evolving partnership has produced a number of significant changes that are bene ting students.
San Juan Unified near Sacramento serves nearly 40,000 students. This district’s shift to collaboration began 15 years ago after a near-strike by teachers led both sides to seek a better way to resolve their differences.
The partnership that has formed between San Juan’s board, its administration, and teachers unions has produced several nationally recognized innovations. Their Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) program provides intensive assistance to struggling teachers. Teacher-administrator leadership teams at each school site collaborate on key decisions affecting teaching and learning. San Juan’s teachers union and administration recently launched a new System of Professional Growth (SPG) that replaces its teacher evaluation system with a comprehensive system of professional supports to ensure that all teachers have ample opportunity to improve their practice.
Because of San Juan’s extensive experience with labor-management collaboration, its leaders have played a key role with California’s LMI. In addition to serving on the CA LMI’s steering committee, a team from San Juan conducted a featured presentation at the CA LMI’s inaugural symposium in May 2015.
Pomona Unified, located in California’s Inland Empire, serves approximately 25,000 students. Collaboration between the administration and the Associated Pomona Teachers (APT) began after several years of contentious contract negotiations and layoffs of hundreds of teachers during the 2008 recession.
The change in relations accelerated in 2012 after Pomona received a grant from the National Education Association to collaborate with two neighboring districts on Common Core State Standards. The grant allowed these districts to receive assistance from the Consortium for Educational Change (CEC), an Illinois-based organization with a long, successful track record assisting districts engaged in labor-management collaboration.
New structures for collaboration and a climate of trust have emerged at the district level but also in several of the district’s 38 schools. Pomona’s leaders expect to see a significant expansion of labor-management partnerships in the years ahead.