Blog

Your Education Road Map

Politics K-12

Betsy DeVos. Donald Trump. The Every Student Succeeds Act. Congress. State chiefs. School spending. Elections. Education Week reporters keep watch on education policy and politics in the nation’s capital and in the states.

Education

Duncan and Unions to Highlight Union-Management Collaboration

By Alyson Klein — October 14, 2010 2 min read

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the presidents of the national teachers’ unions today announced that they will hold a summit to show the world that unions and managers can indeed get along to help kids—really, for real, pay no attention to that “Superman” movie.

The event, to take place early next year, will be called the National Education Reform Conference on Labor Management Collaboration. It will showcase examples of collective bargaining agreements that show that unions and districts can collaborate on education redesign.

Duncan traveled with Dennis Van Roekel, the president of the National Education Association, and Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, to Tampa, Fla., to announce the effort.

Why Tampa? Well, the Hillsborough County Public Schools and its union have put together a union-approved deal to revamp teacher and principal evaluation.

In its press release, NEA also highlighted cooperation in Seattle; Denver; Evansville, Ind.; Columbus, Ohio; and Oklahoma City. (AFT’s press release hasn’t hit my inbox yet, but I’m guessing it might brag about the proposed Baltimore teachers’ contract, which is getting lots of praise. The Baltimore teachers’ union is an AFT affiliate. [Update: Maybe not. The Baltimore teachers wrapped up voting tonight, and they rejected the contract.] ) Take a look at the programs the NEA is highlighting here and see what you think.

In its release, the U.S. Department of Education cited some of those same districts, plus Baltimore, Detroit, Delaware, Montgomery County in Maryland, New Haven, Conn., and Pittsburgh.

So why is this happening? For obvious reasons, the unions don’t like the narrative that they are resistant to change and unwilling to cooperate. Here’s what NEA said in its press release:

Over the last month, the public has been inundated with negative portrayals of teachers and their unions. "Waiting for 'Superman'," NBC's Education Nation summit, and other media coverage has vilified teachers and portrayed their unions as the obstacles to school improvement.

That perception may or may not be helpful for the Obama administration. Some parents (and voters) might like the idea that the administration is being “tough on unions” by promoting practices like tying teacher evaluation in part to student test scores.

But it might not be helpful for the administration (not to mention for skittish congressional Democrats) if the public perception is that their plans are being resisted by local teachers. For one thing, that might make policies like new evaluation systems tougher to implement, and it could weaken their staying power.

Duncan seems to be thinking along those lines. In recent interviews, he’s been singing the praises of Diane Donohue, the president of the Delaware State Education Association, calling her one of his “personal heroes.” Donohue was key to crafting (and selling) her state’s winning Race to the Top application.

So is a summit the right PR move for the unions (and maybe the administration)?

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Special Education Teachers
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
Speech Therapists
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
Elementary Teacher
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools
Elementary Teacher - Scholars Academy
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools

Read Next

Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read