Dan Weisberg, the Department of Education’s chief labor negotiator, will leave the job this month, opening up a hole for who will lead contract talks this August.

Weisberg is heading to The New Teacher Project, the nonprofit founded by Michelle Rhee that works with school districts to help them recruit new teachers (they manage the Teaching Fellows here). TNTP is also a kind of think tank, studying teacher job markets around the country and recommending ways to improve them (think their work on the Absent Teacher Reserve). The latter will be Weisberg’s focus. His position is vice president for research and policy.

At DOE, Weisberg led efforts to raise the quality of teachers by making the process of getting tenure more strict. He also negotiated the latest contracts with the teachers and principals unions, which dramatically changed the way teachers are hired by creating a more open-market system, and he worked to strike deals to bring performance pay to both principals and teachers. One of my favorite Weisberg interviews was his defense of the “rubber rooms” on This American Life, the radio show.

Weisberg said on the telephone just now that his departure is purely personal; it has nothing to do with Chancellor Joel Klein’s reorganization of his senior staff. He said he’s working with top aides to Klein to help pick his successor.