I hold union activists in high regard. Put an emphasis on activist, as in the CORE caucus in Chicago and GEM in New York City. These are folks who support unionism, as I do, but demand accountability. All union members need to demand this accountability.
The former teacher, who will conclude a six-year stint as UTLA president in June, said she decided to take the job because she views organized labor's role in school reform as being as crucial to the success of the changes as it is to the unions' survival."Unless the unions engaged in the process are seen as a real leader, nothing's going to happen," Bernstein said.Buzz Wilms, a professor at UCLA's graduate school of education, compared the organization to similar movements in industrial labor unions, where adversarial relationships with management have become more cooperative in a common drive for improving product quality."It's always a delicate balance [to avoid] claims that they have cozied up to management too far," Wilms said. "If TURN succeeds, their members will still have their bread-and-butter issues close at heart, but they will expand their charter to include the quality of education and student achievement."
May 06, 1999|RICHARD LEE COLVIN | TIMES EDUCATION WRITERHuddled around a conference table in a fancy Seattle hotel, America's most reform-minded teachers union bosses sounded more like crusading politicians than advocates for the rank and file.Why not tie teachers' raises to their ability to pass demanding tests? Even better, fire slackers who can't cut it. Or, most radical of all, pay teachers based on how much their students learn.Until recently, union leaders had been loath to even whisper such ideas."In the past, being a union boss was like being a defense attorney. If you molested kids or were incompetent, my job was to get you off the hook," said Adam Urbanski, director of the Teacher Union Reform Network, a group of progressive union locals that held one of its regular meetings last fall in Seattle. "That's not flying anymore."Indeed, unions nationwide are negotiating contracts with provisions that link teachers' skills to their pay. They are developing training programs to improve the skills of veteran teachers. In New York, Cincinnati and elsewhere they are helping administrators shut down failing schools and evaluating colleagues who are not making the grade.Selling such ideas, however, can be a challenge. Teachers worry that their economic interests are being downplayed to serve a political agenda designed to improve the union image, while administrators often regard union reforms as encroachments on management powers. Many administrators also doubt that the types of reforms supported by unions--which sometimes carry a hefty price tag--will lead to gains in student achievement.There is reason for skepticism. The results of union reform efforts have been difficult to document. Even members of the reform network say they are frustrated by the slow pace of change. . .
April 05, 2001|DOUG SMITH | TIMES EDUCATION WRITERBillionaire financier Eli Broad announced Wednesday that his educational foundation is making a $10-million commitment to school reform efforts in Los Angeles.Speaking at the Town Hall forum downtown, Broad said the Education Venture Fund is already funding programs to train principals, give private school scholarships to children in overcrowded schools, support new charter schools and train volunteers."We are going to seek out, identify and fund action-oriented and promising initiatives," the financial services tycoon said after introductory comments by Mayor Richard Riordan.Broad, chairman and chief executive of SunAmerica, donated $100 million in 1999 to a foundation for programs that are not being tried because they are considered too risky by superintendents and large foundations. The grants focus on large urban districts in three areas: management (down to the principal level), governance and labor relations.In an interview, Broad said the foundation is concentrating its efforts in school districts such as Chicago, Seattle and San Diego, where the superintendents are known as innovators. But he said that he felt an obligation to work with the Los Angeles Unified School District because he is based in this city.Among the foundation's efforts is a project with the Teachers Union Reform Network to develop a model collective bargaining agreement oriented toward quality teaching rather than work rules and grievances, he said. . . .
June 02, 2001|DUKE HELFAND | TIMES EDUCATION WRITERLos Angeles financier Eli Broad and leading teachers union reformers on Friday unveiled a nationwide pilot effort to improve student achievement by rethinking the way unions and management conduct business.Union officials and school district leaders in four urban systems, including San Francisco Unified, will tackle some of organized labor's sacrosanct issues that usually prove divisive at the bargaining table.In each district, labor and management might negotiate such items as the length of school days, incentive pay for teachers or peer reviews.Traditionally, teachers unions have resisted making concessions on these issues, arguing that they would mean extra unpaid work, curb employee rights or have a divisive effect on rank-and-file solidarity. However, unions are under increasing pressure from state legislatures and parents to play productive roles in raising academic achievement. That pressure is expected to increase if President Bush's proposal to require standardized testing in all states wins congressional approval.In each of the pilot districts, the sides will attempt to refocus contract negotiations on accountability, teacher quality and achievement instead of focusing exclusively on salaries, work rules, grievance procedures and other points that usually dominate labor talks."[Unions] have to be willing to try things that they weren't willing to try a decade ago," said Broad, who introduced the initiative in Washington alongside Education Secretary Rod Paige."One of the ways to make progress is to start with a collective bargaining agreement that makes student achievement the most important issue," Broad added.The new approach is certain to test the fortitude of labor leaders. But the head of the Teacher Union Reform Network, a collection of progressive union locals that will oversee the project, expressed optimism.Adam Urbanski, the head of the teachers union in Rochester, N.Y., predicted that better relationships between labor and management will allow the school systems to focus on classroom instruction and education itself--two issues that often land on the back burner during contract negotiations."This is not just about goodwill," Urbanski said. "This is about turning goodwill into results."In addition to San Francisco and Rochester, the pilot effort involves school systems in Toledo, Ohio, and Montgomery County, Md. An education foundation established by Broad will spend $1.7 million on the four-year endeavor, the latest expenditure by the billionaire chairman of financial services institution SunAmerica Inc. into education reform.Some teachers worry that altering the traditional posture of their unions could threaten the many rights they have won in collective bargaining. But others said they believe that better relationships will help reduce rancor and allow both sides to take risks."It's a very positive step," said Bob Chase, president of the country's largest teachers union, the National Education Assn. "We'll see what happens down the line. The important thing is that people are willing to do things that might make a difference in the lives of teachers and students."
Expansion of the Regional TURN SatellitesLabor-Management Collaborative Partnerships to Improve Teaching and LearningThe Consortium for Educational Change (CEC), an Illinois-based network of teacher unions, school districts, and professional organizations that work to make school systems more collaborative, high-performing organizations, was awarded $2 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support the expansion of the Teacher Union Reform Network (TURN), a national network of American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association union locals. With this funding, the five TURN regional networks will expand efforts to help educators and unions to lead the education reform movement on policies, programs, and practices that impact schools, teaching, and learning. The effort will be managed by CEC.Organization and Mission: CEC is a 501(c)3 organization, affiliated with the IEA-NEA, whose mission is to improve student achievement by working with districts and schools in becoming collaborative, high-performing organizations. CEC helps schools and districts accelerate student learning by bringing together teachers, educational support personnel, school administrators, school board members, and parents to stimulate and promote change in school structures and systems. TURN is a nationwide network of more than 100 union locals from the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association that work together to promote progressive reform in education and teacher unions. TURN’s five regional networks:· Promote progressive teacher unionism.· Build relationships between TURN and key community leaders and allies.· Cultivate the next generation of teacher leaders to influence education policymaking.Description of Project: CEC will provide the staffing and curriculum to work with the TURN network to build capacity for education reform at the grassroots level. Dr. W. Patrick Dolan, author of Restructuring Our Schools: A Primer on Systemic Change and Mary McDonald, Consortium for Educational Change assist the leadership of the TURN regions in building capacity to organize union-management teams to collaboratively address the challenging issues that often impede successful education reform efforts. The TURN regions will leverage successes in these reforms in order to inspire a cultural shift within national and state union organizations to inspire education reforms that impact teaching and learning. These regions include:· CalTURN· Great Lakes TURN· Mid-Atlantic/Southeast TURN· Northeast TURN· Southwest TURNExpected Outcomes: CEC is working with the TURN Regions to:· Recruit new teacher leaders to advocate for progressive causes.· Provide organizational learning, support and engagement through regional TURN meeting structures and communication vehicles.· Provide ongoing support for labor-management teams to jointly address policies, programs, and practices that impact teaching and learning.· Communicate successes by sharing learning with other TURN locals and regions.· Influence teaching and learning policies and programs at the local, state and national levels.Useful Links: www.turnexchange.net
Are you looking for a place where progressive unions can discuss authentic education reform and the union’s role in it? Where you can network with your union colleagues and learn from each other? TURN is the place for you.More than a decade ago, Adam Urbanski, President of the Rochester Teachers Association, Helen Bernstein, President of the United Teachers of Los Angeles and a group of progressive union leaders, founded the Teacher Union Reform Network (TURN). Their vision was of an independent, union-led effort to strengthen the nation’s teacher unions’ capacity to promote reforms that would lead to better learning and higher achievement for our nation’s children. Peer assistance and review, alternative compensation and transforming low performing schools are topics being addressed by many of the 50 member locals who are affiliates of both the NEA and AFT. More information about TURN can be found on its website, www.turnexchange.net.The high level of participation in TURN has resulted in an effort to expand the opportunity for unions across the country to engage in these reform conversations and has led to the creation of regional TURNs in the Northeast, Great Lakes, Southwest, California and Southeast/Mid-Atlantic. Participating locals are those that either are currently engage in specific reform efforts or have expressed an interest in exploring such efforts in the future.The national satellite effort is being financially supported by the Ford Foundation which believes that teachers have the answers to the problems that confront public education and are most productive when they are able to interact with their colleagues.More information will be forthcoming. Please feel free to contact one of the organizing committee listed below for more information.Kathleen Casasa, Co-Director Northeast TURN; President Portland Education AssociationMaureen Logan, Co-director, Northeast TURN, Retired Prof. Dev. Coor. Westerly, RI Teachers AssociationPaul Toner, President Massachusetts Teachers AssociationChristine Colbath-Hess, President Cambridge Teachers AssociationKathleen Skinner, Director of Center for Education Policy and Practice, Massachusetts Teachers AssociationAdam Urbanski, TURN co-director; President Rochester Teachers Association