Labor/Management Collaboration by Mark Simon

Written by: Mark Simon

Montgomery County Public Schools is well known nationally for the collaborative relationship between the administration and the three unions representing teachers, principals and other administrators, and support staff employees, respectively. All three sit on the Leadership Team at the superintendent’s monthly leadership meetings and all three participate in the budget development process. This has led, among other things, to voluntary sacrifices by employees when the budget was particularly tight. It has meant less posturing and miscommunication, compared with what unfolds in most other school districts. The workforce seems much more bought-in to the program. There’s more trust. However, transparency and collaboration have not made all conflict or disagreement disappear. And the Washington Post is constantly editorializing that the relationship is too cozy. Really? We’re going to be interested in getting at what difference any of this makes at the school and classroom level. Does it help or hurt problem-solving generally? Does “collaboration” necessarily make the administration more responsive? In the end, does it improve the experience of students and families?

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