Advancing Student Achievement Through Labor-Management Collaboration

Advancing Student Achievement Through Labor-Management Collaboration


Dear Department of Education,

I attended the conference with my Superintendent and Board President and we came home with hope, energy and great ideas for our district only to discover that New York's budget has cut schools so deeply that we are being forced to lay off fully 1/3 of the staff, eliminating all but the bare essentials required by law. We are one of many, many schools in this dire situation. Our hopes of collaboration for student achievement are over and we are now in survival mode. I suggest that the U. S. Government become more directly involved with assisting schools across the nation to guarantee we have the operational aid necessary to prepare the nation for the future. I know that there are many states in the union who will not be able to do it alone.

Hi all - I was wondering if and where I would be able to find the remarks from the Leading a Movement to Advance Student Achievement Through Labor-Management Collaboration panel from the second day of the conference. Anyone know if there is a transcript available online that I am not seeing? Thanks!

I can't seem to find a copy of the Worksheet:District Action Plan on the website. Can an electronic copy be provided so that I can make a power point for my community?

I was fortunate to attend and was happy to see that my district is in the process of working on very similar initiatives. The best part of a conference is that all districts can learn from each other and not reinvent the wheel with each new initiative.


The District Action Plan template is now available here: Thanks for coming to Denver and for sharing what you learned in your community.

Massie Ritsch
Office of Communications & Outreach
U.S. Department of Education

Daniel, can you explain to me WHO paid for school teams from across the country to go to this conference, and how you know? You said in your post that the "Ford Foundation" paid. But one of our local Board of Ed members stated that the US Department of Education paid! How can we really find out who paid for 5 people from Maryland to fly to Denver, plus lodging, and how much it cost, and who was footing the bill?

Daniel, Lyda and others who have been discussing here the financing of the labor-management conference: Recognizing that budgets are very tight right now for school districts throughout the country, the nonprofit Ford Foundation generously provided funding for all 150 district teams to attend the labor-management collaboration conference in Denver. Funding was available to cover the teams' travel costs, lodging and meals during the conference. In addition, funds from the U.S. Department of Education covered the customary costs of producing such a large event--for example, audio-visual equipment, printed materials, staging and event staffing. Attending districts came in groups of three--superintendent, teacher union/association leader and school board chair. In a couple of cases, districts that presented during breakout sessions brought larger teams in order to share the district's experience with collaboration more fully, and Ford Foundation funding was made available to cover the travel costs of up to five individuals per presenting team.

Massie Ritsch
Office of Communications & Outreach
U.S. Department of Education

The conference was exhausting but worth every minute of my energy. I am hopeful that our district leaders got the sense from all presenting school districts that success will only be had if communication is clear, honest and consistent among all groups; no one every feels that something is being done to them- rather a problem is put out on the table and all parties work together to find a solution, parties understand that respect does not come automatically because you have a title; it needs to be earned by being an agent for the aforementioned things. Finally, all the presenting districts emphasized trust. Trust is not automatic either; it can only occur if all parties operate with integrity and caring at all times. Let's consider our nation. If every state's governor acted as an isolate and only did what was best for his/her own state never considering the nation as a whole, we'd have fifty countries instead of the United States of America.

I attended the conference with my superintendent and union leader, a small representation of our district, and found the conference informative, challenging and motivating. We learned how healthy dialogue and collaboration could inform school improvement not in theory but through practical example.
Contributing school districts were open in sharing the why's and how to's so each attending district had tools to engage in productive, forward thinking dialogue. I look forward to researching their systems to inform our work at home.
Worth the Tuesday-Wednesday trek. Check out the web stories.

How can we transform the relationship between labor and management into a strong partnership for improving student learning? Share your ideas here.

A labor/management partnership isn't a new idea. In the 1920's and 30's the AFL President william Green was an advocate of the principle. In 1985 the UAW and General Motors introduced their version of a labor/management partnership at the Saturn plant in Spring Hill, TN and it proved to be a great sucess. In the end it was the leadership of the UAW that abandoned the partnership and General Motors management that threw the towel in on the experiment. There are numerous lesson's of what works and what doesn't in such an endeavor that sould be shared. The number1 lesson learned at Saturn is that the leadership and suceeding leadershiop must be committed to making it work. Never give up on your partner. The second learning is focus on the customer first. The greatest threat to a union members job and income security is an unprofitable company! If you put the union or company in front of the customer than it's over. Problem solve, don't negotiate. Be a team and remove barriers fro the people who really do the work. In the end, the worker, the community, the managers and the share holder benefit from the cooperation.

Answer: We can keep our school system employees and elected officials HOME doing their jobs, thank you very much.

Instead of spending their time traveling to "education" conferences all over the country and the world.

We need our tax dollars to be kept in the classrooms paying for teachers and instructional materials for students!

Janis, you didn't do your homework.
1) The collaborative work at an alternative site IS doing their jobs. There is great value to be had in learning best-of-breed techniques from other educators from across the country. Sometimes it requires face-to-face discussions and collaboration.
2) The elected officials you disparage for taking their time to travel did so on their OWN time, taking personal leave or vacation days to do so.
3) If you had read about the conference before posting your comment, you would have learned that it was sponsored by the Ford Foundation, not your tax dollars.


You have access to the personnel records of the 6 attendees from our school district, please make them public. We would love to see our Superintendent's calendar with notations as to how many trips are taken on vacation time and how many are on school system time.

Did all school systems send 6 attendees? The website indicates 3 per district.

Thanks so much.

Thanks. Done my homework. We pay a Superintendent in salary and benefits almost $500,000 a year to run our public school system and to be PRESENT in our district.

The list of conferences and trips in this country and around that world that he attends is huge. If we don't need a Superintendent to be here running our school system on a daily basis then this is a position that can be ELIMINATED in the budget. This is one of 4 trips he will be on in the next 3 months that we know about. His schedule is NOT made public.

All of our high schools have Promethean Boards in the classrooms, lap tops, and Internet access. Webinars, e-mails and PDF documents mean that our Superintendent can stay right here and run the school system while communicating with other Superintendents with OUT the hotel and restaurant charges and photo ops.

There is a cost to our system. The cost is in the lost time of the people we pay to be HERE. Including a Board of Education member who would not hear from parents at a recent Board meeting and a classroom teacher.

Why wasn't the money used to run this conference spent on STUDENTS in CLASSROOMS? Please explain that to me. Because that is where the resources are needed! Enough with calling "conferences" in resorts "education spending."