Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Alliance Biased Survey is Back

The odious survey by the Alliance for Education is back, but this time as a phone survey.

After they get you to say what's wrong with Seattle Public Schools, they ask you to rate a list of possible solutions. But all of the solutions they offer are all "Teacher Quality" issues. They don't offer authentic community engagement as a solution. They don't offer improved curriculum and materials. They don't offer early and effective intervention. Nope. Instead, it's Teach For America, merit pay and more sophisticated performance evaluations.

I know it because I just took the survey.

These people suck.

Their survey is biased and bogus and any results from it should be rejected for the garbage they are.

Moreover, this shows that their willingness to stop the survey was false. It was a deception. They are big, fat, ugly liars.

28 comments:

seattle citizen said...

Get the word out: The Alliance for Education is sabotaging true dialogue in order to further its own agenda.

Like that evil posse in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid:
"They're like their horses - somebody sure trained 'em."

I think I'll zip over the Alliance website and see who their trainers are, brb....

hmmm...about 90% business people...where ARE their financial docs? hold on...

here's their
"Educational Investments Task Force...charged with building a consistent structure for the investment of private dollars into Seattle Public Schools. Along with funders, Alliance staff, and Seattle Public Schools representatives, the task force:

Conducts pre-investment planning, ensuring investments are aligned with the school district’s strategic plan and the Alliance’s mission ;
Determines which investment areas have the greatest chance of improving academic outcomes;
Contributes to discussions of desired outcomes;
Ensures the financial sustainability of investments;
Determines investment measurements;
Monitors investments to ensure ongoing success"

Sooo...this "board" works with funders and SPS to "align with the school district's strategic plan...[and] contributes to discussions of desired outcomes."

Think I'll cross-post this over to Harium and see if he still thinks the Alliance is just some community group...

Still have to find their 501c financial report, later post. I wonder who "the funders" are (guesses, anyone?) and how the "desired outcomes" are being massaged via this survey somebody paid for...

seattle citizen said...

ah, here we go, here are the "funders":
"Support for Excellence for All

On March 10, 2009, Seattle Public Schools and the Alliance for Education announced more than $9 million in grants from local and national foundations to support implementation of the school district’s five-year strategic plan.

The plan, called Excellence for All, focuses on improving achievement for all students by providing students and teachers with the resources they need to succeed, expanding college-ready coursework for students, improving access to student data, and strengthening professional development opportunities for teachers, school leaders, and district officials.

The grants were awarded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ($7.2 million), the Eli & Edythe Broad Foundation ($1.2 million), The Boeing Company ($307,000), and The Stuart Foundation ($254,000).

The grant awards focus on the following areas:

College Readiness –
Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Boeing Company

Community Engagement –
Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Data, Assessment, and Performance Management –
Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Eli & Edythe Broad Foundation

School Board Development –
Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Staff Development –
Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Eli & Edythe Broad Foundation, and
The Stuart Foundation

So the survey is brought to us by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (see "Community Engagement," above)

Note the "SchoolBoard Development" grant by Gates; Note the "Performance Management" by Gates and Broad.

Note that Gates and Broad alone contributed more than 90 pecent of this money- They gave 8.5 MILLION dollars for these five grants.

I wonder how it's being spent...

ach.

The Alliance is nothing but a lackey for these two foundations. WHAT a surprise.

Charlie Mas said...

So this facade that the Alliance for Education is a community organization is false. The myth that the Alliance raises money locally for the schools is a lie.

The truth is that that Alliance acts as the local agent for national philanthropic organizations with specific political ends in mind.

Hmmm. Wow. What total rat bastards.

wseadawg said...

BOYCOTT THE ALLIANCE. STARTING NOW. THEY DO NOT REPRESENT PARENTS' INTERESTS, SO TO HECK WITH THEIR VULTURE PHILANTHROPY.

Robin said...

My school donations go through the Alliance. How do I avoid them? I want nothing to do with them at this point.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Boy I wish they'd call me. I love skewing surveys.

seattle citizen said...

Here's the write-up of the "community engagement" they did on 3/10 (from their facebook page)
"On Wednesday, March 10th, the Alliance for Education facilitated a community conversation on teacher quality with the Coalition for Equal Education Rights (CEER). We were joined by Dr. Susan Enfield, Chief Academic Officer of the Seattle Public Schools District. The meeting began with remarks from Dr. Enfield around the school district’s commitment and responsibility to strengthening teachers in every classroom. Her commments were thoughtful and candid, as she made the following statement:

“We are in an unprecedented time of opportunity in public education, both at the national and local level. Teachers, principals, district leaders, families and community stakeholders are engaged in conversations about how we provide high quality teaching and learning, and high quality leadership in all of our schools. Research tells us that while incentives matter, it takes more than money to create a system that attracts and retains the best people. We need to transform the teaching profession in Seattle by creating accountability mechanisms to ensure performance while also supporting teachers through meaningful professional growth and career advancement opportunities that honor the work they do. At the core of this effort, however, is what our students need and deserve--which is the very best we can give them.”

Below, are key responses from our participants during the meeting:

Transfer and Assignment – Transfer and Layoffs
· Reward for good teachers shouldn’t be based on super-seniority.
· Seniority creates hostile environment between teachers and school administration.
· The School District should prioritize the “learner” and not the “teacher” (a school is a place for students to learn, not a career for teachers. Students should be first priority)
· Success rate as a teacher should depend on how many students are served
· Train veteran teachers so they can compete with the younger teachers who are coming out of college or just entering the profession with new tools to increase student learning.
· A problem is that teachers with good progressive ideas get outcast by experienced teachers in the system for bringing new ideas to the table. New teachers end up not having a strong support group.

Developing Effective Teachers – Evaluation
· The district has as much responsibility for students learning as teachers do. It’s not all on the teachers. Teachers can’t be blamed for a system that doesn’t provide them the best opportunity to teach.
· Set priorities for teaching at a system level, and the proper resources should be made available to support these priorities.
· Lowest performing students can’t have lowest performing teachers.
· Maybe businesses should have a voice in the process of evaluating teachers, they provide a new perspective of what’s needed of graduates in the business world and how the teachers can teach to some of those “soft” skills.

(to be continued)

seattle citizen said...

(cont. from last post...no massaging of the data gathered from talking points around "desired outcomes" here...nuh uh....)

Participants’ Top Recommendations to Improve Teacher Quality
· Human capital is important. And leadership. Get the best leaders to be teachers
· Create an atmosphere where teachers are partners in the process
· Connect the dots and understand what resources are available around education. Non-profits, community groups, businesses... those are all good places to coordinate resources with.
· Recruitment, recognition and reward. Help district treat teachers as professionals. Take lessons from private sector when it comes to rewarding employees.
· Know what best educational practice is and train to it. This differs by demographics.
· Change union’s opinion of what a professional teacher is.
· Teachers suffer from a linear and directed curriculum. The current system doesn’t allow for much flexibility. All kids don’t learn the same. Also, help teachers better interact with families and build those relationships. Train teachers in family relationships
· Teachers should have residency period like doctors to prove they are capable and effective. Similar to the Teach for America model.

I’m sure that participants found this conversation very refreshing and informative as we occupied the board room of the Central Area Motivation Program (CAMP) office in the Central District. I was particularly moved by the idea of adopting professional development models from the private sector that may enhance support for teachers.

This meeting was the third of four events hosted last week by other partners including the 37th Legislative District, El Centro de la Raza, and the Eritrean Association of Greater Seattle. There are more to come over the next couple of weeks. I invite you to share your thoughts on this post or consider joining us for one of the upcoming community meetings, CLICK HERE . We would greatly appreciate your voice in the conversation.

Solynn McCurdy, Community Engagement Manager

wseadawg said...

From their website, where they brainstormed ideas with Enfield, et al.

Maybe businesses should have a voice in the process of evaluating teachers, they provide a new perspective of what's needed of graduates in the business world and how the teachers can teach to some of those "soft" skills.

Any question who these corrupt people work for? Not parents and students. Nah. They need a future workforce, with forced loyalty based on lack of viable options.

How's about we leave job training to apprenticeship programs or corporations themselves, while we EDUCATE the future generation, who might want to create their own future, not SERVE someone elses.

Charlie Mas said...

I have written to Lynn Varner and Linda Shaw of the Times to warn them about this biased survey. You know that the Alliance will want the Times to publicize the results.

It will be a test of the Times' journalistic integrity when those results come. Will the Times publish them as if they were meaningful or will the Times expose them for the farse that they are?

seattle citizen said...

On their blog, I asked Ms McMurdy, A4E Director, what she meant by this:
"I was particularly moved by the idea of adopting professional development models from the private sector that may enhance support for teachers."

But I got no response. I guess she didn't want to engage my kind of community.

meanwhile, WV is off "dancing" (no lie)...some help YOU are, WV...

seattle citizen said...

My apologies to MR McMurdy, I mistakenly used the wrong pronoun in identifying him.

grousefinder said...

This is A4E thing is beginning to read like a conglomeration of the novel Manchurian Candidate and Orwell's 1984. Stealthy spies slip in to the highest echelons of public life and take over by employing propaganda and ruthlessness guile.

What's ironic about all this is that A4E is promoting a market based approach to education. In a poor economy, SPS (with outside help) might be able to browbeat teachers who fear job loss. However, in the next inevitable boom cycle, with wages escalating commensurate to an expanding economy, SPS can expect to be paying over a hundred grand per year for what they are classifying as highly qualified teachers. That's what happens in free markets.

This will get very interesting when the SEA is tossed out on their heals by members in exchange for representation by the Teamsters or SEIU. SEA and WEA are not skilled enough to negotiate with the District's $300/hour lawyers. But, the Teamsters are.

gavroche said...

The Alliance basically launders money for SPS and helps push the agenda of rich "education reform" dilettantes like Bill Gates and Eli Broad and co.

Grants with major strings attached come through it. When SPS lost the Supreme Court case regarding Ballard HS, part of the money the District was supposed to pay out was redirected (or "donated") to the Alliance. (See: May 30, 2009 Seattle Times http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/education/2009279744_settlement30m.html)

In light of the fact that the Alliance holds fundraiser breakfasts and does PR (and writes frothy op-eds in the Seattle Times) for SPS, this payout may well have essentially found its way back to SPS. Full circle.

The Alliance, by the way, also paid for the equally questionable "Human Capital" report that targets teachers, by "NCTQ" -- to the tune of $14,000. That tells you something about Alliance priorities and how it spends money. I wonder where that money came from.

This survey sounds like what is known in the political realm as a "push-poll." --Leading questions are asked, options are skewed and limited, forcing the respondent to answer in a way that supports the agenda of whomever paid for the poll/survey. Push-polls are not considered legitimate sources of data. But they are used to push an agenda.

So yes, this sounds completely bogus.

Here's the $264,000 question (random number...): If the "education reform" objectives of the Alliance and the Broad Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and NCTQ et al are so worthwhile and legitimate, why do they have to resort to such shady methods to get "community support"?

Here's my theory: I think that at some level these people know they are pushing an agenda that would not stand up to open, public discussion and scrutiny.

Guilty minds at work.

gavroche said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gavroche said...

Here's a message I wrote to the Alliance when it launched its blog late last year (Oct. 2009). (I don't believe it responded.):

Dear Alliance,

Ditto to all of the above questions of my fellow SPS parents. And here are a few more:

Why did you bring NCTQ to Seattle? What business is it of theirs what the agreement is between our teachers and our school district?

There are rumors that NCTQ emerged out of the failed and draconian No Child Left Behind policies of the failed George W. Bush presidency, and it is in fact a union-busting anti-teacher pro-testing operation with political ties, and an “education reform” agenda that leads to the privatization of public education. Can you prove otherwise?

Who paid for NCTQ’s “report” that is to be unveiled tomorrow and how much did it cost?

NCTQ likes to refer to teachers as “human capital.” Last I checked, teachers are human beings. (That’s just an fyi.)

Is the NCTQ “report” that the Alliance is helping to present tomorrow anything like the report that NCTQ recently did on Colorado’s public schools and all the drastic and questionable things it must do to qualify for Race to the Top funding? (Colorado's quest for federal Race to the Top funds, August 2009: http://www.nctq.org/p/publications/docs/NCTQ_CO_Race_to_the_Top_20090819015708.pdf)

If so, can we expect language like this in NCTQ's Seattle report?
There’s no such thing as too bold. Bold, tough reforms—the ones that may seem too challenging to pull off—should be the goal.

Or advice like this (that the district should work with -- or around -- the teacher's union):
Teachers’ unions too need to be brought in from the beginning. The message that change is coming is a constant refrain in the remarks given by the new AFT President, Randi Weingarten, but with the important caveat “with us, not to us.” Giving teachers and the organizations that represent them an opportunity to hear and be heard about human capital strategies is important.
In truth, some of the changes that the Department is seeking may be difficult for local or state unions to accept. Fundamental changes to tenure, evaluation and compensation, for example, may be rejected on their face. States which are intent upon proceeding with some of these reforms may have to do so ultimately without the support of their unions. Having made good faith efforts to work cooperatively, a state that needs to move forward unilaterally must be prepared and willing to do so.
It is critical for states to keep in mind that there are other stakeholders involved apart from school districts and unions, the two groups with the most at stake, and who are also the most likely to resist (or embrace) change. These other stakeholders often represent the interests of children and the community, such as civil rights groups, advocacy groups, business leaders, religious organizations, and parents. Their contribution is essential.


(continued)

gavroche said...

(continued)

And is the real reason behind all the "education reform" zealotry of the Gates/Microsoft and Dells of the world, all the emphasis on data, testing and computers that NCTQ and others like to promote? Or as NCTQ lays out:
For example, most of the strategies we present here concerning human capital require eeffective data systems to implement. Any well designed human capital strategy will make struggling schools a priority. And certainly an effective workforce cannot deliver results without a common set of rigorous learning standards and, we would argue, a great curriculum.

Is this why the district is imposing standardized computerized testing on students as early (and inappropriately) as kindergarten (i.e with the new MAP testing)?

Back to the Alliance itself: Speaking of reports, have you read Meg Diaz’s report on the waste going on in the oversized SPS central administration office (John Stanford Center)? Please see “Central Administration Efficiency in Seattle Public Schools” http://docs.google.com/present/view?id=0AVRHgOkrxGL8ZGhta2I4
cXJfMGZqbjZqampz&hl=en).


What is the Alliance’s official response to this report? Doesn’t it disturb you to see your hard-earned fundraising go toward such wasteful spending?

While you’re at it, and it case you missed it, please read Meg Diaz’s initial report on the Capacity Management Plan – “Analysis of Final capacity Management Proposal” (http://andrehelmstetter.com/Capacity_managementfinal_analysis/Capacity_managementfinal_analysis.
htm).
Diaz demonstrated that it was wrong for the district to close schools when demographic trends showed these schools would be needed. Only nine months after closing schools, SPS has declared that it needs to open 5 more schools because demographic trends showed these schools would be needed. Even SPS spokesperson David Tucker acknowledged this on King 5 News last night:
http://www.king5.com/video/education-index.html?nvid=406517: "With all the economic turmoil within the city, with all the changes that have occurred within our demographics we've seen a significant change in our demographics occurring so we are responding to that."

Does it concern the Alliance that it is fundraising for such a mismanaged and fiscally irresponsible operation as SPS?

You (the Alliance) seem to have a very active role in the management of SPS –- especially for a mere “nonprofit” whose purpose is to raise funds for the city's public schools. It strikes some of us that you appear to have an inappropriate amount of power and influence on district decisions. Ironically the whole tone of your web site reveals this. -- "We’ll work hard to understand and analyze your insight.
• We’re committed to sharing that insight directly and frankly."

What exactly does the Alliance do, and why? Please be specific and exhaustive in your response.

Thank you.

owlhouse said...

On a semi-related topic, DC school chancellor Michelle Rhee is now working with a agent/handler/pr person to "improve" her messaging and interactions w/ the public.

So, "private" money is being invested to soften Rhee's public appearance.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/dc-schools/inexcusable-empty-promises-to.html

Melissa Westbrook said...

This is all quite depressing and confusing. I know people at the Alliance and there is this shift happening that I can't understand. Time to sit down with Sara Morris.

Remember, the Alliance was started by business in order for them to send bigger, more directed funding than PTSA (this was my interpretation at the time it was created - I was nervous when I saw the first list of Board of Directors and it was all business). A shift happened as they tried to become more broad-based with educators and politicians.

It's interesting because I was at a meeting with an Alliance staffer who bristled somewhat at the idea that Dr. Goodloe-Johnson has them on speed-dial to do her bidding. The point was made that the Alliance doesn't work for the district. So the question is, who do they work for?

seattle citizen said...

Melissa, here's who they work for (form the Educational Investments Task Force)
"investment of private dollars into Seattle Public Schools. Along with funders, Alliance staff, and Seattle Public Schools representatives"

lendlees said...

Thanks for the heads up on this. Just got called for the survey.

What irks me immensely is that I write surveys for a living and to be asked one that is so biased and poorly constructed just kills me.

I almost felt bad for the woman administering the survey since I took a fair amount of my frustration out on her.

I ended up not answering half of the questions and told her why. Hopefully I was recorded... :)

The only bad thing about not answering the questions is that the answers from others will be weighted more heavily than mine.

Melissa Westbrook said...

lendlees, I might not get a call so tell me, from a professional standpoint, was it both a poorly design survey or was it biased or both? My feeling from doing their written one was that it asked multiple items in one question (with no option to reject one and okay the other, etc.) and they slanted the questions.

MathTeacher42 said...

I went to a "community discussion" last Thurs at the U.W. College of Ed put on by the Alliance.

There were only 16? 17 ? people there, including Directors DeBell and Carr. I was able to expand upon themes I wasn't able to develop in 3 minutes in front of the school board on Wed. evening.

I. Model your ideas, in time to implement them, AND, pay for the time it will take to implement them.

II. SHOW me in the private sector, where I worked for 25 years, systemic performance and evaluation processes which work. I'm not interested in the anecdotes about google or the first 25,000 to get on the Microsoft boat.

When we look at what various parts of the private sector management have "accomplished" in the last 30 years - the corruption in the defense business, enron exxon and energy, the bankrupt auto industry, the non family wage retail industry, the most expensive health system in the world with tens of millions living on the edge, the mortgage financial goldman aig fannie freddie meltdown ... it is CLEAR that management has accomplished:

1. NOT being held responsible for their incompetence and theft,
2. NOT being held accountable for their incompetence and theft,
3. outrageous rewards,
4. appalling authority,
5. BLAMING THE UNDERLINGS.

III. I've been critical of public programs since I was a teenager on welfare in the 70's. There are NO legitimate excuses for poor performance, just excuses. However, I've been critical of programs which invest in the community because those opposed to community investment are perfectly happy with a societies of squalor, which too many of our fellow citizens live in today, right now. Poorly run programs make it easier for the advocates of squalor to lie and to win.

I don't know if Gates and Broad want to live in a Nigeria, Brazil, Haiti ...style society of squalor. I don't think so.

However, I'm 99% sure that they haven't a clue what 90% of us live like, having spent too much of their time in the last few decades among the consultant class winners of 30 years of Potemkin Village Phantasy. The successful consultant classes are different from you and me.

Face to face, the people I met last Thursday were decent people trying to contribute. The structure of the questions we were directed to answer were all VERY slanted, and the questions had been cleverly slanted by the Potemkin Village Phantasy School Superintendent League.

BM

gavroche said...

MathTeacher42 - hear, hear!

lendlees said...

Melissa-

IMO the survey issues stemmed more from being poorly written than being blatantly biased. The biases could be construed in that they only had respondents rate 'solutions' they wanted to push.

The solutions were written to lead the respondent to not think through the consequences. Example: "Poor teachers should be dismissed in 12 months versus the 18 months it takes now." or "Teachers should be rated on how well their students perform".

The questions seem innocuous, but if you don't explain how the student progress will be measured, or the process principals will go through the dismiss teachers, one can use the data to mislead.

The poorly written aspect came from the 'double barreled' questions where they grouped three items into one question and asked respondents how to rate the question. Also their scales were 4 point (very positive, somewhat positive, somewhat negative, very negative) which polarizes the answers, not allowing respondents to be 'neutral' on a topic.

At least I was able to say that I couldn't answer a question and they didn't force me to. That would have made it much worse. But, most respondents wouldn't know that they have that option, because it wasn't read to them ('Don't Know' wasn't a choice).

Finally, a good survey would have disqualified me early on because I work in the market research industry and know how these things work. I always tell interviewers this up front--so they don't waste their time or mine.

Dora Taylor said...

And now more about education reform which the Alliance is all about.

http://www.democracynow.org/2010/3/26/a_look_at_arne_duncans_vip

Watch it all the way through.

Keepin'On said...

I would just add that folks please do not abuse the person who is administering the survey. As someone who did this for a living back in college, they are just trying to earn a living.

Also, if you do abuse the person, they will probably junk your answers, which means your opinion won't count at all.

Melissa-

If they are randomly dialing, you may very well get called, so you never know!

seattle citizen said...

Dora, thanks for posting that link to the story about Duncan in Chicago and his keeping of a list of students whose parents wanted the student to get into a better school...You're right, the last part of the story, about the devestation of neighborhood schools and their replacement with charters (and military academies, yikes!) is actually the bigger picture.

Makes me worry for our alternative and option schools even more - they do stand in the way of charterfication because they already do what some of the better charters purport to do. So can somebody remind me again about why we aren't growing options?

The story did raise questions about magnet ("option") versus neighborhood...seems that the variety of choice in Chicago lent parents to scramble around trying to get their kid into the "best" school....