Two Sides Of The Dep’t Ed “Labor Summit”

Department of Education’s “Labor Summit” snarky take: Wow, is the election really going to be that brutal?

Department of Education’s “Labor Summit” serious take: This labor summit the Department of Education is hosting is a good idea, there has certainly been some movement over the past few years and some risk taking.  But, the list of sites they’re highlighting reads like  interest group greasing and a set of talking points more than an analysis.  Some good ones, for instance New Haven and Denver.  But Detroit?  Baltimore? Delaware?  File those under, respectively, nope, nice try, and not yet.

And where is DC?  New York? Or how about having KIPP in?  Awkward!

At this point the field is a lot better at talking about breakthrough kinds of labor agreements than actually implementing them in meaningful ways.   The Department and the Secretary have a chance to move the ball on that but not if this is not an honest conversation.  Also, let’s hope management is in this conversation, too.  In too many places they’re no picnic either on this work so honest conversation is not code word for just beat up on the unions.

But, wow, is the election really going to be that brutal?

2 Responses to “Two Sides Of The Dep’t Ed “Labor Summit””

  1. Marktropolis Says:

    “the field is a lot better at talking about breakthrough kinds of labor agreements than actually implementing them in meaningful ways”

    If by “field” and “breakthrough” you mean folks who want to break the unions, then yes, I guess you’re right. I think you keep forgetting that the NEA and the AFT represent teachers. You know, those folks you’re suppose to care about and support?

    And where’s DC? It falls under the category of “not good” labor-management collaboration. Evidence being the recent rejection of Fenty and Rhee. Further evidence being how long it took to hammer out the agreement, and the fact the Rhee had to go out and raise money outside the system to fund performance incentives (which, by the way, recent research indicates don’t actually work).

    One of the things that you and your colleagues seem to keep forgetting is that collaboration is a two-way street (if not more, depending on the number of parties). Collaboration doesn’t mean that your folks ride into town and tell the teachers and the community what the answer is. Collaboration means the parties come to an AGREEMENT about how to proceed.

    And I’m curious about how you think “management” is. Just in case you’re not clear, management is the other signatory to a labor contract. I raise this because I think you might be confused about how labor-management contracts happen.

    And why would KIPP be there? Because one of their schools has a union? I’d argue that the only reason there are any unions within KIPP is because the teachers saw a need for it. In other words, there was a compelling reason for teachers to risk their jobs and try and organize a union. Which means things were probably pretty bad (in terms of work hours, working conditions, who knows what else).

    Andy, I really wish you’d spend just a little bit of time understanding the how and why of unions. And not from the union-buster side of things, but from the worker side of the equation. Might help you not look like such a flack for the billionaire boys club.

  2. Chris Smyr Says:

    Mark:

    “I think you keep forgetting that the NEA and the AFT represent teachers. You know, those folks you’re suppose to care about and support?”

    Because of course, since teacher unions represent teachers, critiquing the unions thus implies critiquing teachers.

    “It falls under the category of “not good” labor-management collaboration. Evidence being the recent rejection of Fenty and Rhee.”

    Only if you assume the polling numbers implied that Fenty’s departure was solely because of Rhee, which is not the case. Even if they were, you’ve also assumed here that only those involved in this collaboration voted.

    “Further evidence being how long it took to hammer out the agreement,”

    That it took long doesn’t directly imply that there was no/poor collaboration, but rather that they came to the table with incredibly different demands. The fact that an agreement was made at all given their demands is a testament to that very collaboration you are referencing.

    “Rhee had to go out and raise money outside the system to fund performance incentives (which, by the way, recent research indicates don’t actually work).”

    Please cite this research.

    “Collaboration means the parties come to an AGREEMENT about how to proceed. ”

    Thanks for the definition. Now explain how that didn’t happen in DC.

    “I’d argue that the only reason there are any unions within KIPP is because the teachers saw a need for it. In other words, there was a compelling reason for teachers to risk their jobs and try and organize a union. Which means things were probably pretty bad (in terms of work hours, working conditions, who knows what else).”

    This is a poor argument since nearly all KIPP schools have avoided establishing a union. In other words, there are nearly always compelling reasons for KIPP teachers *not* to try and organize a union.

    “Andy, I really wish you’d spend just a little bit of time understanding the how and why of unions. And not from the union-buster side of things, but from the worker side of the equation. Might help you not look like such a flack for the billionaire boys club.”

    You’d do well to share some of that infinite knowledge of yours, or perhaps utilize it when you ascend that perch.

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