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Following 'Summit,' Reform-Minded Urban Districts Form a Network

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Representatives of 19 urban school districts agreed at a recent conference in Miami to form a consortium to exchange information about school reform.

The new group, to be called the Urban District Leadership Consortium, was formed during an April 27-28 meeting of 70 teachers' union presidents, superintendents, and school-board members, said Bruce Goldberg, co-director of the American Federation of Teachers' Center For Restructuring.

"This has never happened before," Mr. Goldberg said last week. "The goodwill and hopes of this group I think were tremendous."

The Florida "summit," attended by union presidents, superintendents, and school-board members, followed a preliminary meeting last September in Chicago that drew leaders from 11 cities.

According to its statement of purpose, the new consortium will meet twice a year to "foster a community among reform-minded urban dis8tricts and to plan and execute activities of mutual benefit that will advance the agenda for school reform and restruction."

Mr. Goldberg said those efforts might include sharing information on such topics as increasing parental involvement and "training for change," or working on national models for alternative testing methods.

To be considered for membership in the consortium, a school district must promote labor-management cooperation, and be involved in shared decisionmaking and "restructuring of learning and teaching." And the district's union president, superintendent, and school-board president must agree to join the group.

School districts that do not meet all the criteria may become associate members, Mr. Goldberg said.

The cities and school districts that participated in the conference were Albuquerque, N.M.; Baltimore; Bos4ton; Chicago; Cincinnati; Dade County, Fla.; Hammond, Ind.; Kansas City, Mo.; Los Angeles; Minneapolis; Newark; New York; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Rochester; St. Paul; Syracuse; Toledo, Ohio; and Washington.

"For years, people have given lip service to a lot of very creative ideas," said David O. Dickson, superintendent of the Hammond, Ind., school system and a member of the consortium's steering committee, "but now we're seeing implementation at the building level of these ideas."--ab

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