California is taking an exceptional labor relations path. In Republican-dominated states, declaring outright war on teacher unions has been a political best seller, and ambitious governors, such as Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, see the drubbing of teachers as a ticket to the White House. In more traditionally Democratic states, such as New York, a war of percentages over testing diverts the state from what is more important business. California chose not to enlist in the teacher wars, and it is hoping for a peace dividend.
One of the indicators of just how different the California pathway is will be acted out Friday and Saturday in San Diego as teams of union leaders and district administrators gather in the first symposium held by the California Labor Management Initiative.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson invited school district-union teams from throughout California to participate saying, “We all know that partnership and teamwork are critical to the success of California’s schools. This symposium is intended for districts that are seeking to enhance labor-management partnerships. We believe fostering local labor-management partnerships creates shared responsibility and improves student outcomes.”
The symposium is being sponsored by the California Department of Education and the CDE Foundation along with the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), California Federation of Teachers (CFT), California School Boards Association (CSBA), California School Employees Association (CSEA), and the California Teachers Association (CTA).
The gathering will mark the launch of the California Labor-Management Initiative (CA-LMI), a project that will support local district efforts focused on collaboration. According to its announcement, other CA LMI activities under consideration include: technical assistance to increase district capacity; study tours to model California districts; case studies focusing on exemplary districts; and a professional learning network for CA-LMI districts.
It’s a hopeful sign.
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