**This working paper on educator collaboration is for use by the CA LMI and its partners. It is not intended for public distribution.**
The working paper focuses on school and district decision-making and problem-solving, particularly as they apply to educator collaboration, particularly among administrators, teachers, and their unions.
The research looks at how collaborative partnerships and processes at the school level impact student performance, teacher turnover, and engagement, and the extent to which teachers view their principals and union leaders as educational resources. The national study on union-management partnerships and educator collaboration was conducted in public schools across the country and currently includes over 400 schools in 21 school districts in six states: California, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Jersey.
The findings reveal that union-management partnerships help to catalyze productive collaborative behaviors that benefit students and educators alike.
To support the cultivation of a collaborative culture that is focused on student learning, the Collaborative for Educational Change (CEC) has developed this resource guidebook.
This video was produced by Santa Clara Unified to describe their work on labor-management collaboration to improve outcomes for their students.
Healthy employees provide the continuity and stability that is essential for successful schools and educational excellence. An effective way to promote employee well-being is for employees and management to work together. By collaborating, school employees, their unions and school administrators create a better place to learn, work and thrive.
With this in mind, Kaiser Permanente — with input from researchers, unions and administration associations — developed a Guide to School Employee Well-Being Through Collaboration. This resource provides a roadmap for unions and school district administrators at all levels to work together to build successful employee well-being initiatives.
CEC’s Programs and Services are organized along what we call our pathway of support for schools and districts. This pathway begins with establishing collaborative commitments among the three anchors of the school system. With these in place, CEC is able to accurately diagnose needs, set direction, utilize collaborative structures, and target support to schools and districts
A series of five videos featuring Dr. Rubinstein’s research focuses on the impact of changes in work organization on firms and unions, including schools, districts and unions. Several districts engaged in the Teacher Union Reform Network have participated in the study.
In The Courage to Collaborate, school turnaround expert Ken Futernick makes the case that collaboration between school management and teacher unions is a necessary condition for educational improvement. The author cites evidence showing that collaboration often leads to increased trust, stronger professional relationships, better policies, better implementation of programs and, ultimately, to better outcomes for students.
Drawing on new research, his own experience, and the experience of dozens of other district and union leaders, Futernick details key features and benefits of labor-management collaboration. He also identifies and addresses several obstacles preventing its widespread adoption, including resistance to change, myths about what collaboration really means, skepticism about unions, lack of technical support, and misguided education policy.
An offer to save 20% off purchasing this book is available here (expires 6/2/16).
The time has come for us to stand up together and not allow our teachers, and their unions, to be blamed for all of society’s challenges. Those who question the dedication of our teachers or fear the positive impact of unions should come to Meriden. Our teachers, led by their union, enabled children to have an additional 100 minutes for such enrichment programs as fitness, multicultural arts, online literacy and numeracy, woodworking, technology and engineering, science and math, and academic intervention. Of the 9,100 students in our district, more than 70 percent receive free or reduced-price lunch, and 76 percent of our graduates pursue higher education. I am inspired by the work of our educators and proud of the work we are doing together to make a difference in the lives of every child.
Since 2011, 7 national organizations (AASA, AFT, CCSSO, CGCS, FMCS, NEA, NSBA) along with the U.S. Department of Education have been working together to support labor-management collaboration in states and school districts throughout the country to advance student learning. Based on the belief that supporting good governance of public education in our nation’s school districts is a mutual responsibility, these organizations have jointly planned several conferences, and collaborated on creation of a document titled “On the Same Page.”
The first On the Same Page document was intended to serve as a tool to support state level agencies and district organizations in collaboratively developing a plan that sets direction and determines support for implementation of college-and-career-ready standards. Since the writing of the original document, college-and-career ready standards have been developed in a variety of content areas. The importance of working collaboratively for the good of our students and our country is of paramount importance as new standards continually emerge.
Our theory of action at the start of the collaborative partnership, as well as today as our country continues moving forward, is to continue listening to the field and responding to needs by jointly developing tools and resources in support of the work. Towards that end, a second edition of the original On the Same Page document has been collaboratively designed to support district, school, and classroom educators deeply understand and implement the intent of college-and-career ready standards.
This document, On the Same Page 2.0, is provided as a guide for educational stakeholders to work at a district, school, and/or classroom level to deeply implement higher, more rigorous standards systematically and systemically. The ideas, suggestions, and actions provided in this document are not meant to be all-inclusive. This document is provided as a guide to trigger thought, research, and conversation around effective collaborative practice for design of a teaching and learning system capable of delivering on the promise made to the children of our country.
From the Introduction:
“Collaboration is hard work in education. Stakeholders with diverse interests, backgrounds, and experiences must come together to develop solutions better than what they would have come up with working alone. While there is a growing body of research and resources on how to work together more effectively to improve student learning, educators often have a hard time finding relevant and accessible support. Thus, the Rennie Center, with support from the Massachusetts Department of Secondary and Elementary Education, compiled this Toolkit on labor-management-community (LMC) collaboration. The Toolkit brings disparate research and resources on collaboration together in one place for educators, community partners, and policy-makers with the goal of accelerating student achievement.”
“In recent years, there has been mounting interest in building strong collaborative relationships between labor and management as part of school improvement efforts.
The U.S. Department of Education has sponsored national conferences about collaborative models of school improvement each year since 2011. Organizations such as the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the American Association of School Administrators, the National School Boards Association, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, the Council of the Great City Schools and the Council of Chief State School Officers have been co-sponsors.
At each conference, approximately 100 school district teams that include the superintendent, local union president and the board of education president learn more about labor-management collaboration from other districts across the country. I have been asked numerous times to share at these conferences how ABC Unified School District in southeast Los Angeles County created and sustained a successful labor-management partnership for over 15 years.”
Linda Kaboolian and Paul Sutherland use real-world examples from school districts to highlight innovative practices in school labor-management relations. They also provide contact names, addresses, and telephone numbers for school and union leaders.
This book examines the changing role of teacher unions in the educational reform movement. It contains nine case studies of unions across the United States that are forging new, collaborative relationships with management in a reconceptualization of “professional unionism.”
From the back cover:
“How teacher’s unions can serve as advocates of innovative school reform.In this groundbreaking work, the authors make a compelling case for transforming teacher unions to become champions of quality schooling. This new model of teacher unions would be organized around issues of quality teaching and professional development, as well as, economic fairness. The authors propose strategies for expanding the influence of unions by involving them in the setting of educational standards, evaluating teacher performance, and promoting career security, portable pensions, and employment services for teachers. The book maps out new contracting strategies and labor law reforms that would allow unions to be more flexible and responsive to change.”
These slides were prepared for a presentation at the Center for School Improvement Leadership Institute on January 26, 2013 by Valencia Mayfield, Assistant Superintendent, ABC Unified School District; and Ray Gaer, President, ABC Federation of Teachers.
Excerpt (about this handbook):
“This handbook is intended to provide a more detailed look at how the district and the union achieved their successful partnership, and to offer suggestions that other school districts and employee unions can follow to reach a similar level of trust and collaboration.”
Excerpt (summary of findings):
“In February 2011, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) – along with co‐sponsors from the American Association of School Administrators, the American Federation of Teachers, the Council of the Great City Schools, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, the National Education Association, and the National School Boards Association – brought together over 150 school districts at a conference called “Advancing Student Achievement Through Labor Management Collaboration.” In order to attend, a team composed of the superintendent, the president of the local board of education, and the president of the local teacher organization all made a commitment to work together to create or deepen a labor management relationship focused on advancing student learning. Twelve districts noteworthy for the partnership of their district, board, and teacher organization facilitated conversations with district leaders and others in attendance at the conference.”
“For most of the past decade the policy debate over improving U.S. public education has centered on teacher quality. It has taken many forms including standards, teacher evaluation, merit pay, tenure, privatization, and charter schools — all measures aimed at greater teacher accountability and quality. In this debate, teachers and their unions have often been seen as the problem, not part of the solution. What is missing in the discussion, however, is a systems perspective on the problem of public school reform that looks at the way schools are organized, and the way decisions are made. Most public schools today continue to follow an organizational design better suited for 20th century mass production than educating students in the 21st century.”
An article from the Winter 2013-2014 issue of American Educator, a publication of the American Federation of Teachers.
Labor Management is one category within the NEA Foundation’s resources for unions and districts. Resources include NEA Foundation issue briefs, videos, and other publications.
Resources from the annual U.S. Department of Education Labor-Management Collaboration Conferences beginning in 2011. Resources include videos from the conferences, materials provided to conference participants, and conference evaluation results.
TURN provides a list of resources, organized by categories including recommended articles, books, courses, presentations, and videos, as well as links to national union reform efforts.
In this playlist of 5 videos from Cal TURN’s Spring 2014 conference, Dr. W. Patrick Dolan presents a tool to strengthen collaboration between district and union stakeholders, examines the collaborative structures – moving from district to site – and reflects upon the implementation of the Common Core State Standards in a 3-part session.
California’s section of the TURN website, which includes articles and news posts, information about CalTURN, CalTURN conference information, and a list of districts participating in previous conferences.
CalTURN, a coalition of the willing, supports union and district leaders working together as partners, as equals, to meet the challenges in improving our educational systems. The development of effective labor-management collaboration provides a framework for meaningful engagement, characterized by transparency and mutual accountability, and anchored by our shared responsibility to support all students. The products of collaboration include improved practices in teacher induction, instructional practices, professional learning, and teacher evaluation.
Filmed in front of a live audience, TURN Talks are presentations by educational thought leaders focused on organizational change strategies. These strategies help to strengthen labor-management collaborative structures and processes and to engage teacher voice and leadership to address issues that impact teaching and learning.
Ultimately TURN Talks seek to provide tools to better understand and improve instructional practices and student learning standards, curriculum and assessments.
From the Introduction:
“Today, little is known about the conditions that enable labor and management leaders to collaborate effectively or whether conferences like the one in Denver can jump-start or strengthen labor-management partnerships. Without such knowledge, district, state, and national stakeholders are left to solve the challenge entirely on their own, and additional conferences could be a waste of time and money.
With generous support from the Ford Foundation, a research team at WestEd conducted a study to help build a much-needed knowledge base on labor-management collaboration.”
“The Montgomery County Public Schools system here has a highly regarded program for evaluating teachers, providing them extra support if they are performing poorly and getting rid of those who do not improve.
The program, Peer Assistance and Review — known as PAR — uses several hundred senior teachers to mentor both newcomers and struggling veterans. If the mentoring does not work, the PAR panel — made up of eight teachers and eight principals — can vote to fire the teacher.
Sitting in on two cases last week, I could not tell from the comments which of the panel members were teachers and which were principals. In one of the cases, 11 of the 12 panel members present voted to follow a principal’s recommendation and discipline the teacher; in the other, they decided in a 10-to-2 vote to reject a principal’s recommendation and support the teacher.”
This AFT website includes “brief examples of successful AFT local language…[that] is the end product of negotiations, based on give and take by both the union and management.”
“News about the Baltimore City Public School System (BCPSS) is positive these days. Elementary school test scores are up for the fourth year in a row—on both anational test and a state exam. The local newspaper has good things to say about the district, for a change, as do the union, the CEO, and the state superintendent. Baltimore City still has a long way to go in terms of raising student performance, but its initial school reform efforts are showing positive results. Change began in 1997, with a new city/state partnership, the adoption of a master plan for improving the system, increased state funding, and labor-management teamwork. This case study profiles how management and labor worked together, under intense state pressure, to turn around the district’s schools.”
“The Chicago teachers’ strike, which is now entering its second week, represents more than a simple dispute about pay and benefits, as many observers have noted. It’s more like a gauntlet thrown down against the entire education reform agenda—the broad centrist policy movement that seeks to bring merit pay, metrics, pink slips for underperformance, and other business school concepts to the American schoolhouse. Indeed, one of the main sticking points in the dispute is Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s desire to tie a substantial part of teachers’ professional evaluations—as much as 40 percent—to their students’ performance on standardized tests.”
This blog post offers four examples of districts and teachers unions collaborating to address pressing challenges.
Excerpt from the Preface:
“Labor-management relations inevitably have an adversarial aspect and there are always situations that are not amenable to dialogue and cooperative work. However, public employees, even more so than in the private sector, want to participate in making service better and have shown that they can find ways to deliver more at less cost. They want their leaders to help them obtain those opportunities and have cooperative relations where possible (Survey and analysis by Joel Rogers and Richard Freeman, reported in Working Together for Public Service, pp.50-52, U.S. Department of Labor,1996). Despite the political and personal temptation of more adversarial relations, elected officials, administrators and union leaders can gain politically from the service, financial and workplace results of cooperation.
The selected case examples in this collection show what can be done when labor and management step away from the rhetoric, out of the spotlight of national or electoral politics, and focus on common goals, but still maintain their different perspectives. In each of these cases, service was improved, costs reduced and major complex policy problems resolved or advanced as a result of the structured labor-management dialogue.”
Excerpt from the Introduction:
“In American Rights at Work Education Fund’s Partnerships in Education: How Labor-Management Collaboration Is Transforming Public Schools, we highlight strong labor- management partnerships between teachers’ unions, represented by the American
Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA), and administrations that are transforming schools in communities from coast to coast. For these students, collective bargaining has provided a path for their teachers and administrators
to work together to find solutions and create opportunities. And their success points to the urgent need to protect teachers’ right to collectively bargain — not just for the sake of a dwindling middle class, but for students and their communities, too.
The report focuses on nine school districts from across the country where student achievement is flourishing through the work of labor-management partnerships. In these schools, teachers’ unions are working together as equal partners with school officials to provide a better education for all students, using collective bargaining as a tool to foster innovation
and problem solving at a time when America’s schools need it most. Through coordination, collaboration, and partnership, these districts have made students’ needs their number one priority. And as a result, children, their families, and their communities are thriving.
Excerpt from the executive summary:
U.S. Department of Education webpage that “highlight[s] some of the approaches taken by our district presenters” at the 2011 conference, in the area of dynamic decision-making and problem-solving.
This website contains information about the annual conference hosted by the U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
This powerpoint slide deck first identifies the common interest between teacher unions and management as “Teaching Quality and Student Achievement.” It identifies key components of labor-management partnerships, factors in creating successful partnerships, implications of engaging in these partnerships, partnership obstacles, and approaches to sustaining partnerships.
Since September 1987, twelve California school districts and their teachers’ unions have been experimenting with a new form of labor accord called an Education Policy Trust Agreement. The Trust Agreement Project is designed to enable teachers, as represented by their union, and school management to develop agreements on professional issues which fall outside the traditional scope of collective bargaining or which appear better negotiated in this new setting.
Preliminary research on Teacher Organization-School District Collaboration in California
yields two findings:
1. During 2011 and 2012 some 39 Teacher Organization-School District partners in
California have either been involved in, or expressed interest in, collaboration.
2. Five California teacher organization-school district collaborations have been cited
as national exemplars in recent reports and case studies.
SRI International and J. Koppich & Associates examined the peer assistance and review (PAR)
programs in the Poway and San Juan school districts in California. This is not the first study of
these exemplary programs. Indeed, one of the reasons we selected the PAR programs at these
sites was because of their reputations for excellence. Given the current tumultuous policy
environment, we believed a fresh look at these programs was in order.