District Administration February 2018 - 18

BeyondtheNews

LABOR RELATIONS

In school districts across the country,
administrators and teachers unions are
increasingly working together to address
challenges.
Districts are seeking help from unions
on pressing political issues, including
how to address Dreamer students who
are concerned about deportation after
the Trump administration rescinded the
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
(DACA) program. This has brought the
two groups closer together, with a common goal of helping vulnerable students,
says Mary Kusler, senior director of the
National Education Association's Center
for Advocacy.
In Austin, Texas, the NEA helped
fund an effort called Know Your Rights
that provides practical information to
students and parents on how to respond
to immigration enforcement. And the
union's Office of General Counsel has
guided districts on transgender policies
and sanctuary school rules, Kusler says.
"When very vulnerable children are
under threat by the policies coming out
of the administration, it makes everybody really focused on helping those
students succeed," Kusler says.
Bargaining trends
In many states, collective bargaining
"for the common good" has gained

popularity, Kusler says. "Districts are not
just going to the table to talk about traditional negotiable items such as salary
and benefits," she adds. "Instead, they're
working with their community and other
stakeholders to figure out what they need
to have in place so that students can
succeed." The bargaining process now
covers after-school programs, more wellrounded curricula that include the arts,
and time for teacher collaboration.
In 2013, the St. Paul Federation of
Teachers in St. Paul Public Schools in
Minnesota began holding meetings with
parents and community members to
create a shared vision for schools. The
district did not initially want to bargain
on issues besides wages and benefits,
but the union stood its ground and won
expanded preschool programming, reduced class sizes, reduced testing, and
improved student access to nurses and
social workers.
Relationships between unions and
administrators can be cooperative when
both look at working together as an opportunity to help students, says Alex
Rowell, research associate for economic
policy at the Center for American Progress. "It comes down to building trust
between unions and administrators, and
coming to the table focusing on students
and making education better," he says.

GETTYIMAGES.COM: ICONEER

Unions and districts become
political bedfellows

Local disputes
In some states, however, an adversarial
relationship still exists, making collaboration difficult.
For example, more than six years
after Wisconsin all but eliminated its
collective bargaining process, teachers
there are still feeling the impact. Median
salaries and benefits fell by more than 12
percent, or about $10,800, between 2011
and the 2015-16 school year, according
to a November 2017 report from the
Center for American Progress.
Iowa passed a similar law in 2017, and
a bill in Florida proposed to strip collective bargaining power from unions that
can't get 50 percent of their workforce to
enroll. As of this writing, the Florida bill
is awaiting a Senate vote.
"Unions are being targeted as states
are struggling to fund schools or make
their budgets," says Rowell, co-author of
the report. "They see what they're paying teachers, and want to try to get some
money out of that."
-Alison DeNisco

MOVERS AND SHAKERS
Donna Reynolds, principal of Lake Mary High
School of Seminole County Public Schools in
Florida, connected with students by performing
with the dance team at a pep
rally. Reynolds-dressed
in uniform pants, a senior
class T-shirt and black
athletic shoes-prepared by
attending team practices and
working with students oneon-one.

18 February 2018

Matt Hawkins, principal of Centreville Junior/Senior High School
in Michigan, has reduced the number of behavioral referrals
and suspensions by two-thirds through restorative practices.
Educators ask offending students
questions about how their behavior
impacted others. Victims are only
present during the process if they have
been harmed. School staff get parental
permission for every meeting. Certain
offenses, such as weapons possession,
can still result in suspension or expulsion.

District Administration


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration February 2018

District Administration February 2018 - Intro
District Administration February 2018 - Cover1
District Administration February 2018 - Cover2
District Administration February 2018 - 1
District Administration February 2018 - 2
District Administration February 2018 - 3
District Administration February 2018 - 4
District Administration February 2018 - 5
District Administration February 2018 - 6
District Administration February 2018 - 7
District Administration February 2018 - 8
District Administration February 2018 - 9
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District Administration February 2018 - Cover3
District Administration February 2018 - Cover4
District Administration February 2018 - 66
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