Press Release

Weingarten and Duncan Visit Florida To Highlight Union-School District Partnership, Innovations and Successes

For Release: 

Thursday, October 14, 2010


John See

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today visited a Tampa, Fla., school to highlight the union-management partnership in Hillsborough County that has led to innovations and successes in the district.

Tampa, Fla.—The extraordinary partnership between Hillsborough County Public Schools and its teachers union brought U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and AFT President Randi Weingarten to Rampello Downtown Partnership School in Tampa today for a roundtable discussion on Hillsborough’s groundbreaking efforts to improve teacher quality

“Hillsborough’s teachers are leading change, fighting to create better opportunities for all kids, and driving a range of improvements in schools and classrooms,” said Weingarten. “District officials recognize the union as a full partner in school reform. They understand that frontline educators need to be deeply involved in decisions that affect their classrooms and their schools.”

Weingarten applauded Duncan’s plan to host a national conference on collaborative school reform, which he announced during the school visit. “As we learned during last week’s AFT conference on this topic, which drew teams from 35 school districts, there is a hunger among educators for true collaborative reforms,” Weingarten said.

Hillsborough’s union-district collaboration has helped make it a national model for teacher development and evaluation, pay for performance, and teacher mentoring. The collaboration also has attracted the attention of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which announced last year that Hillsborough would receive an Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching grant. The grant provides $100 million over seven years to develop a new-teacher induction program, improve teacher and principal evaluation systems, provide better professional development, support incentives for teachers who work with high-needs students, and overhaul the district’s compensation system.

Duncan and Weingarten were joined in the roundtable discussion at the Tampa school by U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel, Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association President Jean Clements, Superintendent MaryEllen Elia, teachers, parents and community leaders.

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.