That's what is says at the top of the Alliance for Education home page. With that mission, the Alliance has no business with anything outside Seattle Public Schools. This includes private schools, schools in other districts, and, of course, any charter schools should they appear.
That mission statement is repeated on the web page for their Strategic Plan. C'mon. You had to know that they would have a strategic plan, didn't you? I suggest you read it. It is an illuminating document. This tells what the Alliance sees when it looks at itself in the mirror. It may be a different vision of what you and I see when we look at the Alliance.
The Alliance includes, among their internal strengths: "Convener of disparate voices" Yeah. Seriously. That reminds me of the claim by the woman in Bob's Country Bunker in the movie, The Blues Brothers, when she tells Elwood that they usually have bands that play both kinds of music, Country and Western. The Alliance convenes disparate voices - Education Reform Organizations funded by the Gates Foundation and Education Reform Organizations funded by the Broad Foundation.
Among their internal weaknesses they count: "Overly identified with business (positive/negative)" So it's a weakness and a strength.
Here, also, we find the fundamental flaw in all of the Alliance's work:
Of the many levers to pull in pursuit of improved educational opportunities for children, we will focus on three. Our organizational theory of action is that leadership, teacher effectiveness and establishing a college-bound culture are the three highest-leverage investments we can make to affect systemic change in Seattle Public Schools.And what in the world has directed them to make these three areas of work the focus of their effort? Is there any credible evidence anywhere that these three points are the most critical? I don't think so. I cannot be the only one who notices that none of these three things speak to the work of actually teaching students.
And how are they going about this work? You'll be astonished. It's with "evidence based decision-making and inclusive community partnerships". Yep. The two things that would, I should think, draw them away from these areas of focus. There is no evidence to support this work, and the Alliance never comes anywhere near the community - the real community. They spend all of their time with the community that attends their Black and Orange Ball.
Honestly, the rest of the strategic plan is equally filled with unintentional humor. Such as:
Operational Goal: Brand Identity
Long-Rang Outcome: Crystallize brand identity in the minds of colleagues and partners
Action steps: Redesign website; Evaluate value of updating logo; Enhance social media presence.
Really. No kidding. That's how they are going to crystallize their brand identity? By changing their logo?
Here's a line from their self-description of their community engagement role:
It is important to note here the profile of the Alliance as a “grasstops” convener of community leaders as opposed to a grassroots organizer of community members.I love that. They will engage the community, but only select members. That is, in fact, how I view them as well, so we're in agreement on that.
Here's another funny line. Regarding their work as fiscal agent for various school groups, they write:
"The services are provided at no cost to the groups or individual schools."This is, in fact, false. The Alliance takes the interest earned on the money. That's a cost to the groups and the schools. The reason that the Alliance had to increase the cap on their direct compensation from the District from 5% to 7.5% this past year was because they were not earning as much in interest since rates have fallen.
Be sure to check out their financials - what role this report has in a strategic plan I can't say - but it does make it abundantly clear that the Alliance gets nearly all of its funding from the Gates Foundation. In particular, the grants that support their three primary focus efforts. The Nesholm Family Foundation, for example, provides a significant grant of $493,768, but it's for literacy in middle schools - not an Alliance focus cuz, y'know, it's about actually teaching students.