Friday, October 14, 2011

Union-District Leadership Teams focused on Student Achievement by Sharing Policies and Practices Being Used to Improve Teaching

WASHINGTON, DC (October 14, 2011) — Fifteen union-district partnership teams, all supported by the NEA Foundation, met from Oct. 12-14 in Columbus, Ohio, to share and build upon approaches that teachers, their unions, district administrators, and communities have created and are using to improve the quality of teaching and student performance.

“The NEA Foundation supports educator-led policy and practice that drives collaborative reform, improving student learning and making that improvement sustainable,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Our annual Cross-Site Convening provides fertile ground for proactive union, district, and community leaders to learn from experts in the field, to share and discuss their successes and challenges, and to grow the ideas that will result in meaningful change for students.”

The NEA Foundation is a non-profit, public charity that partners with education unions, districts, and communities to create powerful, sustainable improvements in teaching and learning using the levers of technical assistance/coaching and direct philanthropy.

“We know from our experience working with districts across the country that teachers and their unions can—and should be—a major force in getting initiatives off the ground and sustaining them, in partnership with school officials who understand that the knowledge, experience and passion educators bring to the teaching and learning process must be an integral part of all reform if student success is to be achieved and sustained,” Sanford said. “As we jointly launch such initiatives, teachers must also share the accountability for student outcomes with the administration and the community, and they must speak with a collective voice about the changes needed to improve the quality of teaching and the lives of their students.”

The Foundation’s annual convening of its union-district partnership teams focused on discussions and planning that support three national goals:

  • To help educators improve their practice so students can increase their academic achievement and develop 21st century skills;
  • To increase the ability of school districts, local unions, and communities to work together to boost achievement for all students; and
  • To give educators tools to reclaim their voice in shaping public education, helping them to, among other strategies, expand the scope of bargaining agreements to include a greater focus on teaching and learning.

On the first day of the convening, participants visited local schools and shared their observations with school representatives afterward. Later, Columbus school leaders, including the Columbus superintendent, the local union president, the president of the school board, discussed how increased collaboration and teacher voice in decision making has strengthened the human capital development system that promises to move the dial on teaching effectiveness and corresponding student performance.

Ronald Ferguson, of the Achievement Gap Initiative at the Harvard University, opened the second day with a charge for communities to work together to address the needs of all students. After that, participants attended workshops, led by national thinkers and practitioners. Topics, including Peer Assistance & Review (PAR), effective Professional Learning Communities, how to incorporate student voice into effectiveness measures and aligning teacher and principal evaluation measures, were selected to help teams encourage teacher voice and create systems to sustain collaboration in their communities. Teams spent the last day incorporating what they had learned and planning for the next school year.

Participating teams included:

  • Lee County, FL
  • Elgin, IL
  • Springfield, IL
  • Louisville/Jefferson County, KY
  • Cambridge, MA
  • Springfield, MA
  • Montgomery County, MD
  • Portland, ME
  • Durham, NC
  • Omaha, NE
  • Columbus, OH
  • Hamilton County, TN
  • Seattle, WA
  • Fond du Lac, WI
  • Milwaukee, WI

- - -

About The NEA Foundation
The NEA Foundation is a public charity supported by contributions from educators' dues, corporate sponsors, and others who support public education initiatives.We partner with education unions, districts, and communities to create powerful, sustainable improvements in teaching and learning. Visit for more information. Find us on Facebook and Twitter, and visit our blog.

‹‹ Back to News Releases