People often wonder if there is any district or state that is working to support children and to strengthen public education. In the age of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, it is difficult to find districts that manage to keep their focus on students instead of carrots and sticks.

But there are success stories.

One is Cincinnati. When I visited there a couple of years ago, I met with the community leaders working together in a collaboration called Strive. They used data to mark needs and progress on key indicators, not to fire educators and close schools. I saw impressive collaboration between the teachers’ union and other community agencies.

In this article, Greg Anrig explains why Cincinnati has taken a different course from the rest of the nation.

He explains:

“What can other urban school districts do to replicate these results, and move away from the highly confrontational reliance on market-based incentives that have dominated educational policymaking in recent years? First, it is vital to build trust between school administrators and teachers unions. It is no accident that Cincinnati Superintendent Ronan and the city’s teachers share mutual respect. Ronan, 59, spent her entire career in Cincinnati, beginning as a middle school math and science teacher in 1976. Later she became an elementary school principal and climbed the administrative ladder while forming strong relationships along the way. Julie Sellers, the president of the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers, told Education Week: “[Ronan] probably knows more teachers than any superintendent. I think it has been beneficial for her to get buy-in. Teachers feel comfortable talking to her. There’s nothing we don’t do in Cincinnati. These are the best urban, high-poverty schools in the country.”

Yes, there is hope.