CEC was founded in 1987 as a consortium of 12 Illinois school districts dedicated to transforming education through labor-management collaboration. In its early years, the organization focused on helping districts implement interest-based bargaining processes and build a strong infrastructure for collaboration. In 1990, CEC formed a long-term partnership with Dr. Patrick Dolan, whose work on hierarchical systems change assisted CEC in developing a comprehensive set of strategies for supporting districts, including District and School Leadership Teams. In the 2000s, CEC’s established a thought partnership with Michael Fullan that led to an evolution of our work to include coaching and consulting directly with school practitioners. CEC now impacts classroom practice and school learning culture, as well as overall district-level structures and systems.


Through labor-management collaboration, CEC transforms educational systems by building collaborative structures, processes and cultures with and among key educational stakeholders to continuously improve organizational and student success.


CEC is a best practice exemplar for providing systems of support that build capacities in districts and schools in Illinois and across the country in order to move them to higher levels of performance.

Theory of Action

CEC’s work is guided by a carefully established Theory of Action that centers the knowledge that all student have the potential to grow and learn. CEC supports student success by training and empowering teachers and administrators, and by creating and supporting collaborative structures for shared decision-making and accountability.

Download our Theory of Action