This first-of-its-kind conference on labor-management collaboration is a historic effort to transform the relationships among local superintendents, school boards, and teachers into a broad and robust partnership designed to boost student achievement. All of us understand that good labor-management relations create the conditions that drive success in our schools. When local school boards, superintendents, and teachers work together to focus on ensuring student success, overall achievement rises as does teacher satisfaction and community support. While this sounds both easy and obvious, in practice this requires enormous trust and tremendous effort on the part of everyone involved.
Your school district is among 150 from across the country that have asked to be part of this initiative—to take a fresh look at how we improve and strengthen labor-management relationships, policies, and agreements with the goal of improving instruction and student achievement, and how we hold ourselves and each other responsible and accountable for achieving these goals. You have agreed to revisit both what underlies a successful labor-management relationship and the myriad of issues that affect it, including transparency, hiring and retention, equity, compensation, instruction, professional development, and evaluation. That means the stakes are high for you, your constituencies, and the students and communities for whom you work, so we salute your courage and your leadership.
Over the next 24 hours, you will hear from other progressive and innovative school leaders who have found new and better ways to work together. You will have the opportunity to learn from others who, like you, are on this journey. And, with your district colleagues, you will have the opportunity to reflect on changes that you can make in the coming months to improve student achievement. We look forward to receiving your action plans after you return home, so that we can all stay abreast of your activities and collectively monitor and support your progress.
Know that in doing this critically important work, you have the support of the U.S. Department of Education, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, and this conference's sponsoring education organizations: AASA, AFT, CGCS, NEA, and NSBA. The Ford Foundation has generously funded this gathering. Also in attendance is a wide range of other foundations and nonprofit organizations that have histories of supporting this work. We encourage you to talk with them and gauge their interest in working with your district.
We are asking much of you because we all have a unique opportunity to move beyond the serial conflict that too often characterizes the relationship between districts and unions. Together, let's redefine labor-management relations for the new century. We have a collective responsibility to prepare our nation's children to compete in the global economy and we cannot allow anything to stand in our way.
Thank you in advance for doing the hard work that lies ahead.
Daniel A. Domenech
George H. Cohen
Dennis Van Roekel
Anne L. Bryant