Hillsborough CTA: A Leader in Transformation



October 15, 2010 by Amy Buffenbarger  
Filed under PSC Featured News, Union-Led Efforts

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By Amy Buffenbarger


NEA President Dennis Van Roekel visited Tampa, Florida this week, along with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan where they announced plans to convene a national education reform conference on labor-management collaboration early next year.

The announcement came on the heels of a roundtable forum that highlighted the innovative labor agreement between the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association and Hillsborough County Public Schools.


So what was innovative about the Hillsborough agreement?


On August 30, 2010, the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association (HCTA) ratified a new collective bargaining agreement that includes a new-teacher mentoring program, more rigorous educator and principal evaluation systems, and development of a new compensation system based on student achievement measured through a strong value-added formula. Hillsborough County Public Schools received a $100 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in November of 2009. The “Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching” grant is part of a seven-year initiative to transform public schools in Hillsborough County. Hillsborough CTA has been involved in every step of the process, working collaboratively with the district to ensure this opportunity will lead to success for educators and students.

Under the new agreement, each first-year teacher will be assigned a mentor who will provide confidential support and coaching. The mentors are all full time staff hired directly from the classroom. In addition to mentors, the district also hired full time peer-evaluators for veteran teachers who will conduct observations four to ten times a year.

“We helped the district write the job descriptions for the mentors and peer-evaluators,” said Nick Whitman, Executive Director of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association. “We sat in on every single interview to make sure only highly successful educators with a lot of credibility and enthusiasm were selected for these positions.”

Hillsborough CTA is also involved in developing the performance-pay system. Through a partnership with the University of Wisconsin, they are working on a new value-added formula for evaluation of student performance that will include more variables than just test scores. Some variables include attendance rates, consideration of free or reduced lunch, English Language Learners and learning disabilities. The new compensation system will roll out in 2013. Current educators will be able opt-out and stay on the existing salary schedule, or join the performance pay system with new educators and have the opportunity to reach higher salary levels more quickly.

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel hosted a town hall meeting with members of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association in August. “I’m going to places where there are groups of people who understand what collaboration is and who actually practice it to transform education,” Van Roekel told the crowd. Collaboration is a key component of NEA’s Priority Schools Campaign.

Read Van Roekel’s op-ed about the collaboration in Hillsborough and watch what was discussed during his first visit in the video clip below.


Weingarten and Duncan Highlight Hillsborough's Success

The extraordinary partnership between Hillsborough County Public Schools and its teachers union brought U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and AFT president Randi Weingarten to Rampello Downtown Partnership School in Tampa on Oct. 14 for a roundtable discussion on Hillsborough's groundbreaking efforts to improve teacher quality.

"Hillsborough's teachers are leading change, fighting to create better opportunities for all kids, and driving a range of improvements in schools and classrooms," says Weingarten. "District officials recognize the union as a full partner in school reform. They understand that frontline educators need to be deeply involved in decisions that affect their classrooms and their schools."

Weingarten applauded Duncan's plan to host a national conference on collaborative school reform, which he announced during the school visit. "As we learned during last week's AFT conference on this topic, which drew teams from 35 school districts, there is a hunger among educators for true collaborative reforms," Weingarten says.

Hillsborough's union-district collaboration has helped make it a national model for teacher development and evaluation, pay for performance, and teacher mentoring. The collaboration also has attracted the attention of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which announced last year that Hillsborough would receive an Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching grant. The grant provides $100 million over seven years to develop a new-teacher induction program, improve teacher and principal evaluation systems, provide better professional development, support incentives for teachers who work with high-needs students, and overhaul the district's compensation system.

Duncan and Weingarten were joined in the roundtable discussion at the Tampa school by U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), National Education Association president Dennis Van Roekel, Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association president Jean Clements, superintendent MaryEllen Elia, teachers, parents and community leaders. [AFT press release/video by Matthew Jones and Brett Sherman]

October 14, 2010



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