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Friday, January 06, 2012

Alliance for Education Community Breakfast

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?

15 comments:

Tina said...

To be worthy requires self-assessment, not only the assessment of self in the context of what you can give, but also in what your giving stands for.

One dollar marked to support more privilege is not only a dollar wasted, it is also a dollar lost.

Self praise amounts to little but a communion of cold mirrors: one "good job" echoing the other. But praise of others -- of teachers, of students, of schools -- is the rain that spurs the harvest.

Instead of spending money, challenge yourself to spend time. Sit with one who is learning to read or who struggles through the algebra problem. Know that struggle and refrain from throwing money to blind yourself from it.

Humble yourself to others who are not among you, but who deliver each day the hope your easy dollars represent. They are the ones in the field, plowing, raking, sowing, and planting. The harvest is theirs, not yours. When you benefit from their hard work, praise them, not yourselves. Honor the soil beneath their feet, not the one below your own.

Anonymous said...

"Big Study Links Good Teachers to Lasting Gains" is on nytimes.com front page today....

-A+

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dorothy Neville said...

Darn, I will be out of town that week!

I have gone and found it interesting. Worthwhile to network with the ordinary folk sitting on the margins at the back tables, generally folk not in the inner circle but real boots on the ground types. Just take some cash. Breakfast is free but a donation is expected and I respect that. So I put some cash to cover breakfast and a wee bit more in the envelope provided and don't put my name on it. Let the movers and shakers write big checks.

Anonymous said...

I would say this:

1. Stop scapegoating teachers and their unions for society's and student's families failures.

2. Care enough to recognize that your best sources of information and "data" are teachers, not non-teaching "consultants" and "experts."

3. Give credit to teachers and staff for the incredibly hard work they do instead of on what they cannot or do not do, especially in this era of constant budget cutting.

4. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. (Jesus of Nazareth).

5. I repeat: DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU.

That's probably enough, although I wouldn't expect Christ's own words to compete with the wants and desires of a millionaire who - despite ample evidence to the contrary - is convinced he has the Midas Touch.

WSDWG

btw: Y'all know Commodore is building computers again? Yippee!

Anonymous said...

"99 Percenter" Opinion:

I've been. Once two years ago with a friend. It was a dog and pony by Alliance staff and district personnel to keep their donors happy and (very) self-satisfied.

Do not show up thinking the business crowd will be happy to see you. They'll glance at your name tag, give you an up and down glance, deem you a nobody, and move on. Not a single person even said hello to me when I went, and this includes some of the people I know serve on the board and staff, because I looked up their names before going since the group was new to me. One actually, yes actually, gave a little sniff-snort before turning away. He would be one of the more prominent names in the group who is known for talking and writing about economic disparity and what good citizenship should look like. Oh the irony.

The one friendly person? The breakfast server. It confirmed every stereotype I'd heard about the group. No sense coming up with a speech for the group. They would be uninterested.

I donate to different education organizations.

Anonymous said...

To I donate etc.

You must be a teacher and therefore don't matter to the vast majority of voters.

another teacher

Charlie Mas said...

Here's a funny contradiction.

On one hand we have Jon Bridge saying that teachers don't matter to voters.

On the other hand we have folks in the same camp who say that it was the teachers' union that gave Marty the win.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'll have to attend. Charlie, you should come with me and watch us have a table to ourselves. OR we could say who we would like to be seated with.

As to the speech, I'd have to give it a lot of talk to see what I think might work.

Come out with a teacher joke first?

What's the difference between a cat and a comma?

A cat has claws at the end of its paws and a comma is a clause at the end of a pause.

Rim shot!

No, not funny?

seattle citizen said...

@Melissa -
You're such a card. You should be dealt with.

barump-bump....

seattle citizen said...

So Melissa's incredibly funny joke put me in the mind to look for teacher humor. This is the bit I liked best on workjoke.com/teachers-jokes:

Questions you Hope your Pupils won't Ask you:
Why doesn't glue stick to the inside of its bottle?
Why are there flotation devices under plane seats instead of parachutes?
Why are cigarettes sold in gas stations when smoking is prohibited there?
Why do you need a driver's license to buy liquor when you can't drink and drive?
Why is lemon juice mostly artificial ingredients but dishwashing liquid contains real lemons?
If 7-11 is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, why are there locks on the doors?
If a cow laughed, would milk come out her nose?
If nothing ever sticks to TEFLON, how do they make TEFLON stick to the pan?
If you tied buttered toast to the back of a cat and dropped it from a height, what would happen?
If you're in a vehicle going the speed of light, what happens when you turn on the headlights?
If it's zero degrees outside today and it's supposed to be twice as cold tomorrow, how cold is it going to be?
Have you ever imagined a world with no hypothetical situations?
How does the guy who drives the snowplow get to work in the mornings?
You know how most packages say "Open here"? What is the protocol if the package says, "Open somewhere else"?
You know that little indestructible black box that is used on planes? Why can't they make the whole plane out of the same substance?
What do you plant to grow a seedless watermelon?
When sign makers go on strike, is anything written on their signs?

Kristin said...

This year I, and other teachers at my school, received about $455 each to spend on a classroom library thanks to the Alliance. My students needed those books, especially when resources are being slashed. I have to disagree with the sentiment that their dollars are "marked to support more privilege." Mine is a public classroom in Seattle.
I was also invited to the Black and Orange Ball because a friend of a friend had an empty seat and wanted to invite a teacher. I had a great time, and found myself surrounded by people who were supportive of our schools and teachers, interested in and informed about what is happening in public education, and willing to back up their good intentions with time and money.
I wish we could all move away from this "that's enemy territory" mentality we sometimes have about two imaginary opponents in education. We're all working toward the same goal, and we should be spending our energy on figuring out how we can combine resources to help kids have the best possible experience in public schools.

seattle citizen said...

Kristin,
You write that "We're all working toward the same goal, and we should be spending our energy on figuring out how we can combine resources to help kids have the best possible experience in public schools."

I agree that the Alliance does some good things. This sort of thing (money for classrooms) was what they started out doing. But let's look at the Alliance today:
Millions from Gates to basically run the Strategic Plan. MOuthpiece for other Big Ed reformers. Creater of the astro-turf "Our Schools Coalition" to sway public opinion and try to insert the last superintendent's "SERVE" proposal, a Big Ed Reform union-busting proposal if I've ever seen one....
So while it's great that the Alliance continues its original mission of helping teachers in classrooms ($445) it also serves as the operational arm of Reform (millions of dollars, media purchase, Strategies 360 PR...)

Are we "all [both sides]working towards the same goal"? Big Ed Reform's vision of education is vastly different than mine (and unfortunately I don't have millions of dollars of lobbying money.

"we can combine resources"? Whose? Big Ed represents ed management companies, test companies, anti-labor free marketers.

If would indeed be nice to work together, but the Reform agenda doesn't have a place for discussion, for collaboration, for utilizing all the various resources...they have their plan all figured out, and they have little room for combining resources, unless it is a giving in of "one side" to the demands they make.

Really, it's war - There is a well-oiled machine crunching across the fields, attempting to destroy public education and replace it with the free market. I should work with the machine? I should climb onboard?

Carol Simmons said...

Charlie asked if we were going to give a 45 second speech at the Alliance 4 Ed Breakfast what would we say.

Jim would say:
"One of the greatest strengths of our democracy has been the social mobility made possible by our public education system. It would be wonderful if our school boards, superintendents, political parties, legislators and economic think tanks would commit themselves to preserving and strengthening the "Public" aspects of our public education systems."

I would not attend but if I did I would say:
"Education in its fullest sense is not measurable two or three times a year by the application of standardized tests, but is clearly visible to all in the tolerance, appreciation of diversity, equitable treatment and creativity which result from a truly effective and responsible education."

I would hope that the Alliance would give Melissa and Charlie a front row table and honor Chris Jackins, Dora Taylor, Sahilia, Don Alexander, Rita Green and Dan Dempsey at the event.

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