The Alliance for Education's 10th annual community breakfast will be at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Seattle on March 29. This is one of the big community fundraisers for the Alliance. Last year they raised $220,000 at this event. The Alliance has about $11 million in cash and securities and raised about $7 million in contributions last year, so this breakfast is not completely insignificant, but it is mostly for show. The bulk of the Alliance's fundraising is done at the Gates Foundation, not with the general public at all.
Unlike a lot of my friends, I do not believe that the Alliance for Education is the debil, although they have become a puppet organization for the Gates Foundation. I am glad to hear that anyone - Gates, Broad, Phillip Morris, or Darth Vader - wants to contribute to public education. Now, I may think that some of their contributions are misguided, but - with the exception of a handful of specific privateers and profiteers (Goldman Sachs, I talking about you) - I give folks the benefit of the doubt and presume good intentions. The Gates Foundation, for example, could be a powerful positive force if their efforts were more effectively focused. I don't even blame these types too much for their mistakes. They know what worked and was good in their industry or experience and presume - often incorrectly - that it will work as well in the context of public K-12 education. They don't seem to understand that the keys to success for fish will not bring success to birds and the practices that worked in the private sector will not work in the public sector.
I have been to the Alliance breakfast. It's full of well-intentioned people congratulating themselves for being so well-intentioned. They have no idea how wrong they are. They have been told - time and time again - that they are making horrible mistakes, but they persist in making them. In other words, it's a nearly ideal spot for a public mic check.
If you could give a forty-five second speech at the Alliance Community Breakfast - a speech delivered one clause at a time - what would you say?