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In Cincinnati: 'A Team of Professionals'

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Preface to the collective-bargaining agreement between the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers and the Cincinnati Board of Education.

This agreement was negotiated using a new "win win'' or "principled'' negotiations process based on methods developed at the Harvard Negotiation Project. The negotiating teams went through extensive training by Conflict Management Inc., whose professionals are affiliated with the Harvard Project. At several stages, CMI also facilitated the work of the teams.

As is evident by this agreement, these methods work. Essentially, the process is a structured joint problem-solving process that begins by building the relationship between the parties, identifies various stages to the decisionmaking process, supplies systematic "tools'' at each stage that clearly define problems, looks at a diagnosis for their causes and develops a wide range of optional solutions before making choices.

Through this process, we have become a team of fellow professionals who have learned to use these tools well. We believe this presents the Cincinnati Public Schools with a unique opportunity to make a significant change in the climate of our system and in the eduction for children in our city.

As we explored our mutual vision for the Cincinnati Public School system and each of its schools, we saw a climate where fellow professionals would be working collaboratively to tackle educational problems as systematically as we have negotiated this contract. We believe we have demonstrated, through both our relationship and our result, that the methods and principles we have used work. Therefore, we recommend, and are mutually committed to, providing training in the "win win'' process broadly throughout the district to teachers and administrators in order that they may apply them to improve education.

Further, we are dedicated to capitalizing on the resource to the school system that we have become. We have therefore committed our team of fellow professionals to tackle a significant educational challenge in our city. To that end, we have agreed to a pilot project in one of our poorest-performing schools. We envision creating a core planning team to work in a school to apply our new skills toward improving education. Those of us not working directly in the school are committed to supporting the work of the core planning team in any way we can; to serve as trainers, facilitators, volunteers, whatever it takes to demonstrate that this collaborative decisionmaking process can be used for the benefit of schoolchildren. We would give the core planning team in this school the freedom to recommend changes in Board policy, administrative procedure and the collective-bargaining contract where, in their judgment, it makes sense to do so. ...

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