Education Secretary Duncan and teachers unions announce summit

By Nick Anderson
Thursday, October 14, 2010; 2:20 PM

Conventional wisdom holds that teachers unions are stuck in the status quo and that there are few examples of labor-management teamwork on education reform.

On Thursday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and leaders of the two largest teachers unions called for an education summit early next year to disprove those notions.

The announcement highlighted several initiatives across the country, including a teacher peer-review program in Montgomery County and a new labor deal in Baltimore that allows teachers to be get raises based on student performance and other factors, not just seniority.

It omitted mention of the much-discussed labor contract for D.C. public schools that gives administrators more power to remove ineffective teachers and provides performance pay for those who excel.

Duncan made the announcement in Tampa with Dennis Van Roekel, president of the 3.2 million-member National Education Association, and Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.5-million-member American Federation of Teachers.

Schools in the Florida city are beneficiaries of a $100 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to reshape traditional teacher pay scales and evaluation systems - another project with labor support.

"In dozens of districts around the country - from Tampa to Pittsburgh to Denver - union leaders and administrators are moving beyond the battles of the past and finding new ways to work together to focus on student success," Duncan said in the announcement.

The summit on labor-management collaboration, at a date to be named, will include superintendents, school board members and labor leaders, according to the announcement.

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