The Obama administration has invited 2,000 local school districts to a mid-February conference that will require they collaborate with their unions on improving student achievement.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said good labor-management relations can create the conditions that drive student success.

[W]e want to bring together leaders in labor and management who are committed to collaboration around bold reforms, Duncan said  on Monday, the day the invitations went out.

Participants invited to the February 15 and 16 conference in Denver have received federal money over the past year. They will be chosen randomly within certain constraints as the administration will ensure diversity in terms of district size and geography. 

One condition will be that the local board president, superintendent and teacher union or association leader must all agree to attend.

In addition, all must agree to work collaboratively in setting their strategic direction and hold each other accountable.

Agreement should also be reached on organizing teaching and learning time schedules, and process for the hiring, retention, compensation, development and evaluation of a highly effective workforce, the Department of Education said.

Partnering with the Department of Education - the conference sponsor - are various national organizations: American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the National School Boards Association, the American Association of School Administrators, the Council of the Great City Schools, and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

The Ford Foundation is helping support the conference with funding.