Monday, July 09, 2007

Whither the Alliance, Part II

This article appeared in today's Times. Many only know the Alliance as a conduit for their donations to their school.

The Alliance's profile has been much lower since about 2003/4. It's a bit mind-blowing to know that there has been $100M raised by and pumped into SPS by the Alliance since 1995.

The Alliance's take on the situation:

"But as time has gone by, more donors have wanted to target their money at specific programs or schools — sometimes even specific purchases — rather than let the alliance choose how to spend it.

Board Chairman Jon Bridge, co-CEO and general counsel for Ben Bridge Jeweler, said the alliance should be more focused. Small donations for equipment and field trips should fall to other nonprofits, he said. The alliance should give money only to programs with specific goals.

"Let people trust us in earmarking those funds in a direction instead of telling us that we're going to have to spend it on athletic gear or ... on the PTA social that's down the block or something else," he said. "We can't be everything to everybody." "

Darlene Flynn's:

"But School Board Vice President Darlene Flynn said that for too long, the alliance had too much influence over district programs. The district, not the alliance, should have shown more leadership on which academic initiatives to take on."

Pat Wasley, Dean of Education, UW (who made this same claim at the Town Hall Forum):

"Patricia Wasley, the dean of the University of Washington's College of Education, left the alliance board out of frustration several months ago. She didn't feel the alliance was holding the district accountable for all of the programs it funded.

"I felt like the alliance, during my tenure there — which wasn't very long — was really focused on raising resources but didn't have the shared policy mission of holding their feet to the fire," she said."

It seems like the Alliance needs to define itself. Is it raising money to support certain programs or giving money that the district directs? Should it have any role in the direction the district takes or "holding its feet to the fire" (that was also noted during the discussions around the City's Families and Education levy)? Is it part of their role, as community leaders, to act as cheerleaders and/or support the district leadership during tough times? Would it have made a difference during school closures or the superintendent search if the Alliance had shown public support for the district's direction?

1 comment:

Charlie Mas said...

I think the Alliance knows that they are suffering from something of an identity crisis, and I think they are doing the right thing about it. They are taking some time for introspection and discussing among themselves who they want to be.

When they are done with this process, I expect that they will emerge with a renewed sense of identity and purpose. I would hope that their sense of identity and purpose will be strong enough that they will not accept donations which are inconsistent with that indentity and purpose.