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Labor-Management Initiative Moves Forward in Second Year

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California's Labor Management Initiative is just a year old, but it's gathered substantial attention from union locals, school district administrators, and from the California Department of Education, which sees it as a way to deliver productive collaboration.

This spring, teams from 39 school districts and unions along with three county offices gathered in five different locations to work on building stronger collaborative relations.  This year's sessions followed an initial, oversubscribed inaugural meeting last year where 50 teams attended.

The Consortium for Educational Change provided coaching along with Saul Rubinstein, who has written extensively about the benefits of labor-management cooperation: Yes, kids do learn better when adults don't fight.

In addition, the Initiative has announced a training program for labor-management collaboration facilitators, which will take place June 27-29 at the offices of the Corona-Norco Teachers Association.  The deadline to apply is June 20.  Questions: HERE

Shelly Masur, president of the Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation, said in an email, "We think this is the right moment for district and county office teams to really establish collaborative relationships.  There are so many significant changes in our public education system that require all the adults to work together to ensure success and a growing recognition that collaboration can affect some of our biggest challenges." 

She continued, saying that "emerging research that teacher retention is very positively correlated with high levels of collaboration at the school site which could have an impact on our looming teacher shortage." 

I see this effort as pointing in two important directions. 

First, it is beginning to connect grassroots unionism with the state's major policy efforts,:the implementation of the Local Control Financing Formula and its attached accountability plan.  Two of the workshops included reflections on the Local Control Accountability Plan process.  I'd double or triple down on that effort.

Second, the coalition of educators, scholars, and organizational representatives that seeks to advance the accountability and continuous improvement sees building collaboration between labor and management as the key to the state's education reforms.  This suggests a major shift in the way unions are perceived and the expectation that the state has for them to be working partners instead of a supportive interest group.  If this is real, then the fruits of that relationship should be ready for fall harvest.

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