School districts and labor leaders from across the country have been invited to attend a federally sponsored conference in Denver on Feb. 15 and 16 to identify ways that collaborative labor-management relationships, policies and agreements can more directly drive student achievement.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, “We have seen how good labor-management relations can create the conditions that drive student success so we want to bring together leaders in labor and management who are committed to collaboration around bold reforms.”
The event is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education in partnership with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the National School Boards Association, the American Association of School Administrators, the Council of the Great City Schools, and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. Funding to support the conference is being provided by the Ford Foundation.
Invitations went out today to approximately 2,000 school districts that secured federal funding in the past year under key programs, including Race to the Top, the Teacher Incentive Fund, School Improvement Grants and Investing in Innovation. The Department will randomly select attendees from those who apply but will also ensure diversity in terms of district size and geography.
To attend, the board president, superintendent and teacher union or teacher association leader must all agree to attend the conference. In their RSVP, all attendees must further pledge to “collaboratively develop and implement policies in such areas as: setting strategic direction to advance student achievement and aligning all labor-management work with this overarching focus, including ways to share responsibility and hold each other accountable for results; and more effectively supporting the work of teachers, leaders, and administrators in advancing student achievement by improving such systems and structures as organizing teaching and learning time and schedules, and processes for the hiring, retention, compensation, development, and evaluation of a highly effective workforce.”
Duncan said, “We're setting a high bar for attendance at this conference because these school districts and labor leaders will have to go back home and do some very hard work to ensure that student success is the central goal in everything that they do.”
Duncan thanked the Ford Foundation for supporting the conference, adding, “The current financial outlook is bleak for many states and schools districts and we are deeply grateful that the Ford Foundation is supporting innovations that put children first. This kind of support helps ensure that financial challenges will not impede education reform.”