The Alliance, to me, was always for the business and community group folk. They were dissatisfied with the schools, John Stanford probably encouraged them to organize and voila! The Alliance. I think they did start out with their heart in the right place.
It has now morphed into a group that claims it looks for innovation and reform but it all comes from two places; the Gates Foundation and the Broad Foundation. I'm not going to get all conspiracy theory here but yes, I believe that those two foundations (along with others; they're not alone) are frustrated/impatient/upset with the pace of education reform in this country. So, we have a lot of large foundations who basically want to change the face of education in this country through sheer force of will coupled with large amounts of money and power.
Money makes the world go round and bless these foundations for their interest and concern. But I'm not turning over the public education system to several influential foundations to tinker and experiment on our public education system and the children in it. These people at these foundations are not appointed nor hired nor elected.
Which brings me to my central issue. As you know, I joined the Seattle Organizers group to try to prod the Board into allowing parents and community more access to the teacher negotiations. Things like:
- what are the Board's goals and ideas going into the negotiations?
- when, before negotiations start, is the Board going to have input from parents/community on the Board agenda? Or will they have a public hearing to take input?
- And, at the end, can they give us an understanding of what goals were met and what ones weren't and why?
Every single page of the teacher contract affects our child's school day. That's why we deserve to have some public input available to us and why we should know the Board's intent going in. They are our representatives.
So the Alliance has loosely been a part of the Seattle Organizers. (Keep in mind they have been interested in teacher quality/performance for awhile now ever since the NCTQ report.) The Alliance, however, declined, without explanation, to sign our document about community values. We were all a little surprised and disappointed but they still were part of the group.
Well, now we find that out the Alliance is forming its OWN coalition and going out to solicit community groups to sign onto their ideas.
Upfront let me say, there isn't a whole lot of overlap between the groups' positions mainly because the Seattle Organizers is about transparency around the negotiations and the Alliance is pushing for teacher performance measures. However, to learn that this is what they are doing, with strangely familiar language in their statement, made me very upset.
The people from the Alliance sat there at our group's meetings as we hashed out how we might try to get the Board to listen to us. How we might get more groups to sign on so that the Board would see how many parents and community groups felt strongly about the outcome of the teachers' contract.
And what are they doing now? Trying to co-opt us. Trying to confuse people by now having TWO coalitions talking about teachers. But which is which? And what does each want?
Thanks to the Alliance for this huge monkeywrench and their duplicity. Because that's what it is. They like to claim they don't work for the district but boy, this has the district's fingerprints all over it. Don't want parents and community in any way part of the negotiations? Want to keep them arm's length? Well, then cook up another coalition group so you can confuse everyone. That'll work.
Then, as Seattle Organizer points out, we have this Alliance "Teacher Quality Town Hall" coming up complete with these topics:
So in support of our students and teachers:
• What can we do to support teachers as individuals, professionals, and community leaders?
• How can teacher professionalism include an acceptance of responsibility for student achievement?
That second bullet point? It completely and utterly negates any alleged support from the first bullet point. Help me out, tell me I'm wrong but if I were a teacher, I would find the second bullet point very disrespectful. Our teachers aren't acting as professionals? Based on what evidence? They don't accept responsibility for student achievement? Nowhere does the flyer mention parents, principals or the district leadership as also accepting responsibility for student achievement. Why not? Why is this burden all on our teachers?
So to the Alliance I say, you have tried to co-opt the Seattle Organizers but really it is you who is being co-opted. By the Broad Foundation, by the Gates Foundation, by anyone with money who will tell you what to do. And it stinks on ice.
The Alliance might just want to think about what this looks like from the outside.
Again I say, lesson learned.