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Union-district partnership means more learning time for students

Indiana school district to participate in national labor-management conference

WASHINGTON - February 3, 2011 -- Union leaders and school district administrators in Evansville, Ind., are working together in new ways to improve academic achievement. A team from the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation will talk about their efforts at a national conference on improving student achievement through labor-management collaboration. The event will be held February 15-16 in Denver. 

“Our partnership demonstrates how you can wisely use agreements to help get students what they need to succeed,” said Keith Gambill, president of the Evansville Teachers Association. “In our case, that means an extended school year for students and more meaningful professional development for teachers. I am pleased with the working relationship we have with the district and the support we have received from the community.”

In 2009, union leaders and district administrators created the Equity Schools Project, which focused resources on three of the district’s struggling schools: Delaware Elementary, Howard Roosa Elementary, and McGary Middle School. Under the agreement, each school can add up to 20 more days of classroom instruction to the school year, plus five professional development “data days,” when teachers learn to analyze and use data to address student needs and boost achievement.

Teachers became students at the rigorous Equity Academy where they learned more about communication skills, decision making, and making better use of data. They completed 40 hours of coursework on Saturdays and after school on Wednesdays. Participation was voluntary, but teachers who opted out or failed to complete the coursework can no longer teach in Equity Schools.

“Evansville exemplifies collaboration on many levels,” added Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association. “Not only are educators working with the school district and engaging the community, but they are sharing ideas and strategies with each other. This kind of collaboration is critical to transforming schools. We must work together to find new and better ways to help students succeed.”

The Evansville Teachers Association is one of 77 NEA affiliates participating in the national conference. Forty-seven of the attending affiliates are represented jointly by NEA and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). The event is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education in partnership with NEA, AFT and other education organizations.

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing
3.2  million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Ramona Parks-Kirby (202) 822-7823,


Read more about the Equity Schools Project

Watch a video about the Equity Schools Project (click below)