Tuesday, January 22, 2013

KUOW Report on the Alliance for Education

It's a doozy.

The first head of the Alliance, Sue Tupper (who coincidentally ran the No on 1240 campaign for the WEA), said this:

"When the organization started, there was great sensitivity to needing to take the cues from the school district, rather than coming up with an agenda and then imposing that agenda on the school district," Tupper said.

Exactly.

I get some air time and then comes in Sara Morris, the current head of the Alliance.

When the district introduced its memorandum of understanding with the Alliance for school board approval last May, local education activist and blogger Melissa Westbrook challenged the official language during public testimony. "The Alliance is not part of the district," Westbrook told the board. "The wording in one paragraph is that 'the district remains on track with our goals.' The district is supposed to be on track with Alliance’s goals? No. It’s the other way around."

Alliance for Education President and CEO Sara Morris says the organization does support the district's goals. The Alliance can just differ on how to achieve them. "Really our work is to be what's known as the 'critical friend' of the district," Morris said. 

Well, as I pointed out, it's awfully strange the that wording was "our" goals but it meant the Alliance.

She also seems to claim the last teachers contract outcome was a result of their efforts (which, by the way, should go to the entire Our Schools group but you can see that the Alliance was and is the true front for them).

Then she lays it out:

Morris says she’d like the district to consider the way the charter school company Rocketship Education teaches students--by throwing out the conventional student-teacher ratio. "They’re doing some really incredible things, like having 40 or 50 children in a lab at a computer doing math, with a roaming tutor who can provide support as needed. That then allows them the flexibility to have six- and eight-student reading groups," Morris said.

What she leaves out is an actual teacher in the room.  Big savings of a "tutor" over a teacher.

What is fascinating is the part that follows this section:

Asked for her take on the Rocketship teaching model, Seattle School Board President Kay Smith-Blum was initially dismissive. "I don’t think anybody’s talking about putting 50 kids in a classroom," Smith-Blum said in an interview.

One week after that interview, the Alliance for Education sent out invitations to its annual fundraising breakfast. The featured guest speaker is scheduled to be the CEO of Rocketship Education.

Later, in a follow-up email, Smith-Blum said she thinks schools "need to explore new delivery models" like the Rocketship approach.

C'mon Kay - you just became President of the Board and they already got you to drink the Kool-aid?

FYI, Rocketship is an incredibly small and new charter group.  Their results are good but almost too small to be taken seriously.

National Education Policy Center Publications Editor and University of Colorado Boulder Education Professor Alex Molnar says business organizations like the Alliance for Education rarely have independently peer-reviewed research behind the education reforms they promote, like the Rocketship model. "They’re very, very hard-nosed with regard to results when they talk about teachers, schools and so on. But they’re very, very mushy when they talk about the evidence that supports what it is they’re proposing," Molnar said.

But why worry about REAL evidence, right, Sara?

When asked whether she seeks out peer-reviewed research in shaping the Alliance for Education agenda, Morris cited what she called "ample empirical evidence to suggest the status quo" is failing many students.

Here's the Alliance's/Our Schools "wish list" for the new teacher contract.

The new superintendent says he’ll consider the Alliance’s wish list, but that he’ll only make reforms that make sense for the district.

I wish he had added "and I welcome other ideas and thoughts from ALL of Seattle."

5 comments:

mirmac1 said...

"Critical friend"? As I recall, that's one of Michael DeBell's pet phrases. Not surprising, inasmuch as he's on Morris' speed dial. If it's not hooking up at coffee shops, it's weekends in Mazama.

Same with our former public servant Holly Ferguson. They worked closely on how to best orient Banda to the Seattle Way. Fergie and Morris worked closely to beat down those irksome questions regarding SPS shelling out scarce dough to pay Alliance for its "services".

The Alliance is nothing but a civic club for the affluent and connected to "dabble" in public education.

suep. said...

And a money- and (corporate ed reform) agenda-launderer for the Gates Foundation.

Found it surprising that the KUOW report didn't mention how much money the Alliance gets from Gates:

Alliance for Education
Date: November 2008
Purpose: to support the college-ready curriculum, assessments, data and advocacy elements of Seattle Public Schools' strategic plan
Amount: $6,929,430


Alliance for Education

Date: October 2011

Purpose: to provide the Alliance for Education and its sub grantees, the League of Education Voters and the Alliance for Technology, funds over three years for Our Schools Coalition

Amount: $760,100

Term: 2 years and 2 months

Topic: Community Grants

Region Served: Global, North America

Program: United States

Grantee Location: Seattle, Washington

Grantee Web site: http://www.alliance4ed.org


Source: http://www.gatesfoundation.org/Grants-2011/Pages/Alliance-for-Education-OPP1044048.aspx

Jane said...

In the meantime, there's been lively conversation among math teachers about Rocketship over at Dan Meyer's blog:


Rockektship Learning

Anonymous said...

The requirements for an ELL endorsement are quite demanding. If SPS actually required an ELL endorsement for new teachers, the instant effect would be to dramatically reduce the pool of new teachers who apply for a job in SPS. That is why Superintendent Banda will never add this to his wish list. It also reveals something interesting about the Alliance that it would recommend something so idiotic.

Look It Up

mirmac1 said...

Look it up,

I don't doubt it, except if you're TFA. Yeah, it's a double standard. Alliance doesn't care, in fact they promote it.