The Role of the Unions
The key to building and maintaining these relationships is to keep the lines of communication open, promote issues on which there is agreement, and to be understanding when conflicts arise.
Partnering With Teacher Unions
The role of the teacher union is critical in every state and district's effort to develop or reform its evaluation system, so states and districts should take steps to build and foster an open, productive relationships. Key to building and maintaining these relationships is to keep the lines of communication open, promote issues on which there is agreement, and to be understanding when conflicts arise.
This relationship can become the state’s direct link to its teachers, as unions have access to their members. By establishing amicable relationships with unions, states and districts can request opportunities to present at conferences, send surveys to union email lists, publish columns in their newsletters and more.
Successful Partnerships in Tennessee
“It was important to be clear about the things we agreed on in the front end (with the unions) … when we disagreed we were clear about the decisions that were being made and why,” said Sara Heyburn, Assistant Commissioner, Teachers and Leaders, at the Tennessee Department of Education. “Because not doing that is putting off the inevitable.”
Director of Schools, Jesse Register in Nashville, and the president of the district’s teachers union have collaborated on a video about the evaluation work that will be shown to faculty across the district.
Former Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen went even a step further in his personal outreach. Before the state started discussions with its teachers union regarding proposed evaluation changes for Race to the Top, he had lunch with the union president at the Governor’s Mansion, outlined his vision, and made clear that his door would always remain open.