A special report in the Nov. 16 issue of Education Week looks at efforts around the country—including in a number of districts where the AFT represents educators—in which unions and school districts are focusing on collaboration as a way to improve the quality of teaching and learning.
The report, "Joining Forces," includes an overview that features interviews with AFT leaders and staff, as well as a separate article on the groundbreaking collaborative union contract in New Haven, Conn.
As AFT president Randi Weingarten points out in the report's lead piece, efforts to improve schools and make sustainable changes to the teaching profession are unlikely to succeed without the participation of teachers and unions. "She remains probably the highest-profile figure endorsing the concept of labor-management collaboration," the report says, "and has made it a priority since assuming the top job at the 1.5 million-member union in 2008."
Weingarten argues that cooperation is needed more than ever as school districts face budget pressures. "We have to do more with less. It's the right strategy," she says in the piece. "It's only the people who don't understand schools who think these partnerships are a political strategy, not an education strategy."
AFT vice president Adam Urbanski, who heads the Rochester (N.Y.) Teachers Association, echoes Weingarten's comments. "If you're in the same boat, it doesn't matter which end leaks," he is quoted as saying. "I don't know of anyone I could respect who would argue that schools and public education can be changed substantially by any single constituency alone. I think it's hard enough even when we all pull together, and I know we're dead in the water if we don't."
In addition to the main overview story, the report takes a detailed look at the contract between the New Haven Federation of Teachers and the school district and, in particular, the teacher evaluation portion of the agreement. [Dan Gursky, Education Week]
November 16, 2011