The Courage to Collaborate

The Courage to Collaborate The Case for Labor-Management Partnerships in Education

Ken Futernick
paper, 240 Pages
Pub. Date: February 2016
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-892-4
Price: $34.00

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In The Courage to Collaborate, school turnaround expert Ken Futernick makes the case that collaboration between school management and teacher unions is a necessary condition for educational improvement. The author cites evidence showing that collaboration often leads to increased trust, stronger professional relationships, better policies, better implementation of programs and, ultimately, to better outcomes for students.


For those of us who have been in the trenches, working hard on labor-management collaboration, Futernick’s book comes as a clear, refreshing, and balanced analysis of this complex work. The book features an abundance of practical advice, ‘how to’ tips, and tangible evidence of successful, collaborative strategies. In the end, it’s a lucid and compelling call to action. — Paul Reville, Francis Keppel Professor of Practice of Educational Policy, and founding director, Education Redesign Lab, Harvard Graduate School of Education

The us-against-them mentality between labor and management or teachers and administrators works against the primary mission of every school district: educating all students. Instead of giving priority to adult issues, broad collaboration puts students first. As Ken Futernick documents, working with one another leads to better academic outcomes for all students, including minority children from low-income families. When students are the winners, there are no losers. — Ramon C. Cortines, superintendent, Los Angeles Unified School District

Labor-management collaboration remains our best hope for addressing and resolving impediments to better student learning.... Only together can we access the needed resources and persuade others—the public, the politicians, and our communities—that we’ll make good use of the resources we seek. — From the foreword by Adam Urbanski, president, Rochester Teachers Association; vice president, American Federation of Teachers; and cofounder, Teacher Union Reform Network

Advocating trust building through informal relationships, Futernick provides a comprehensive description of labor management collaboration to not only address current disputes between teacher unions and school administrators, but also tackle the ultimate goal of improving teacher effectiveness resulting in better outcomes for students. — L. B. Jabs, CHOICE Connect

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About the Author

Ken Futernick is an educational consultant to schools, school districts, and policy makers across the United States. He’s a member of a team supporting the California Labor-Management Initiative, which provides technical assistance to state and local school leaders who are pursuing labor-management collaboration.

Futernick began his career as an elementary teacher near Sacramento and, after earning his MA and PhD in education at the University of California, Berkeley, he worked at California State University, Sacramento, for twenty years. There, he taught courses in education and conducted research on teacher retention, educational policy, and preservice teacher training programs. He also served as chair of the Department of Teacher Education for three years.

In 2008, Futernick helped found and direct the School Turnaround Center at WestEd, a national nonprofit educational research and service organization based in San Francisco. He and his colleagues helped school leaders across the nation improve student outcomes by strengthening teaching and learning conditions and targeted professional development programs for teachers and administrators. He conducted research on labor-management collaboration, and he coauthored several publications on this subject, including a chapter he wrote with Adam Urbanski for the book The State Role in School Turnaround.

He lives with his wife, Joy, in the Sierra foothills of California. He can be reached at

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