NEA President, Education Secretary Announce National Labor-Management Summit

By Amy Buffenbarger and Staci Maiers

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel joined U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in announcing plans today to convene a national education reform conference on labor-management collaboration early next year.

The conference will highlight examples of progressive collective bargaining agreements across the country and identify opportunities for further reforms at the state and district level. Participants will include national, state, and local union leadership as well as school superintendents and school boards from across the country.

“There are innovative and creative collaborations happening in our public schools,” Van Roekel said. “Not only do we need to highlight this great work, but we need to share lessons learned and figure out how great ideas can be replicated.”

The announcement came on the heels of a roundtable discussion with Van Roekel, Duncan, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten, Florida Education Association (FEA) President Andy Ford, and state and local leaders that highlighted an innovative labor agreement between the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association and Hillsborough County Public Schools, located in Tampa, Fla.

The agreement, which includes a new-teacher mentoring program, more rigorous educator and principal evaluation systems, and development of a new compensation system based on student achievement measured through a strong value-added formula, is just one example of how collective bargaining is playing a pivotal role in transforming public schools.

Van Roekel previously visited Tampa in August to learn more about the collaborative work happening in the Hillsborough Public Schools district. “It’s past time to stop pointing fingers about who should be responsible for improving our public schools. It’s time to begin a dialogue about how to share in that responsibility.” Van Roekel wrote in op-ed today in The Hill. “Like the Secretary of Education, reformers can look to the collaboration and progressive labor agreement in Hillsborough as a model to start the conversation.”

Learn more about NEA’s work reforming education through its Priority Schools Campaign and get the latest campaign news on the blog.

Photo: (c) 2010 Photo by Dirk Shadd/NEA. All Rights Reserved