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Will Local Teachers' Unions Sign Off on State 'Race to Top' Plans?

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Increasingly this is a question that's coming to my mind as I collect and read states' letters to their districts on the Race to the Top.

You may recall that states earn additional competitive points for having stakeholders, including local districts and teachers' union officials, sign off on MOUs with the state to implement the programs. Thus there's a big incentive for them to get as many local districts and union leaders on board as possible.

So far, the Florida MOU strikes me as the most interesting. It would require districts to work the terms and conditions of the state's RTTT plan into their bargaining agreements or risk having their subgrants terminated. (Rotherham takes note of this also.) The state plan will include a teacher evaluation instrument in which 50 percent of the rating will be based on state or district assessments. That's potentially a very tough sell for teachers, and it will be enlightening to see how many affiliates in the Sunshine State agree to bargain it.

Pennsylvania's MOU, on the other hand, does not include a bargaining requirement and is not as specific about what its model teacher evaluation will include. (Apparently it won't mandate the adoption of a specific instrument.) That might make it easier to get signatures from unions now, but harder down the road if they decide they don't like the way the plan turns out.

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