What is the Alliance for Education?

I'm confounded by the Alliance for Education. I don't know what it is anymore.

At one time the Alliance was all about fundraising for Seattle Public Schools. It raised money for the District through it's own events and promotional activities and it acted as fiscal agent for school-related causes. That's it. No politics, no policy, just raised money for the District.

Now it has morphed into something else. It has become a subsidiary of the Chamber of Commerce, it advocates for all kinds of political positions, it tries to interject itself in the teacher contract negotiation, it shills for Education Reform Organizations and, what really galls me, it is out advocating for charter schools.

Check out their Twitter feed.

I don't think that an organization that is founded to support Seattle Public Schools should be advocating for charters. Nor should they be advocating for private schools.

So what is their mission anyway?


mirmac1 said…
I expect Banda would be none too pleased.

One should examine just how much "help" this organization provides. A few thousand here, a grant for board indoctrinazation there - is it really worth it? To put up with their demands? Where our 360 career ladder positions?! Where's our Labor Relations guy?! Wah!
Anonymous said…
how about Alliance for Corporate [education] Reform for Insiders Downtown - ACRID for short.

Ed said…

It ALWAYS was about the Chamber of Commerce. Holly Miller and Strategies 360 are the links to the "faceless cabal" downtown.

Remember Connie Sidles?

They HAD TO take over the Board and they never let go.
Anonymous said…
Send your comments to Banda. He needs to hear them.

Let him know that the Alliance's snotty attitude toward parents and its mix of fundraising + pushing policies that our own school board doesn't support is not OK with the community at large. The Chamber of Commerce which writes the Alliance staff's paychecks does NOT run this district.

My letter is drafted. I've had about enough of the Sarah Morris CEO of We Will Shove Our Corporate Reform Agenda Down The District's Throat in Thin Disguise of "Helping" Seattle Schools.

Anonymous said…
Mr Banda has said that there was a similar group in Anaheim, that tried to foist their agenda. He said he listened, assessed what the district needed, then told the group "here are OUR needs, are you willing to help." Not the other way around.

Jet City mom said…
I thought that the original intent wasnt even to raise money, but to provide a place for parent organizations to channel money from fundraising because they couldn't have carry over.

Anonymous said…
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suep. said…
Alliance for Education = money-launderers for corporate ed reform.

One ex: in 2009, the Alliance paid $14,000 to the so-called National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) -- a Washington D.C.-based, politically connected, professional-teacher-trashing, pro-TFA, Inc. operation -- to secretly come to Seattle and write a negative "Human Capital" report on SPS teachers, with the predictable conclusion that SPS needed ed reforms that the Alliance and Gates et al supported, like merit pay. (NCTQ has received over $4 million from the Gates Foundation.)

The Alliance also helped create the bogus "Our Schools Coalition" (whose purpose was to pressure teachers into accepting corporate ed reforms in their new contract by creating the illusion that there was widespread community support for these reforms) and was one of two operations, along with Schools First, that must have illegally handed over the private contact information of 10,700 students and 1,400 teachers to the political marketing firm, Strategies 360/DMA Marketing, (in violation of FERPA) which then conducted a pro-TFA, anti-teacher push-poll (which the Alliance likely funded).
(Should the School District Be Allowed to Give Our Kids’ Phone numbers, Addresses and Photos to Every Tom, Dick and Pollster?)

The Alliance is neither independent nor altruistic.

It's an unelected, backroom political operation with an agenda that has nothing to do with the volition of the families of SPS.

It sounds like it may have changed its direction when it lost (squeezed out?) its former CEO, Patrick D'Amelio (who returned to the Big Brothers, Big Sisters organization) and brought in Morris.

The timing of this changeover coincided perfectly with the beginning of Broad Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson's ed reform rampage and attack on SPS teachers (Nov. 2009). (See: D'Amelio steps down from Alliance for Education")

Anyone know why he left?
suep. said…
Here's another possible clue to why there was a change in leadership at the Alliance: D'Amelio apparently left not long after the Alliance embarked upon a new funding "partnership" with the Gates Foundation.

from the Puget Sound Business Journal article (bold emphasis mine):

(...) During his three-year tenure, D'Amelio helped raise more than $20 million in private donations for the Alliance, which is the private fundraising arm for Seattle Public Schools and is closely tied to the local business community. He also oversaw the Alliance's restructuring, an effort to better work with the Seattle School Board and a new grant partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

In other words, it sounds like Gates established (bought) a significant new influence over the Alliance and likely wanted to use the organization to push his corporate ed reform agenda, and probably needed a new CEO willing to go along with that scheme.

This would not be the first time that wealthy corporate ed reformers have infiltrated and taken over once-seemingly-altruistic organizations. Stand for Children, Inc. is another example of this. As a small operation in Oregon, its original mission and reputation were very different from its current character as a ruthless, national, union-busting ed reform lobbying operation.

(Guess who funds Stand...)
Anonymous said…
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Charlie Mas said…
The Alliance says that they are tweeting about articles and editorials on both sides, but I have to ask:

Why tweet about editorials in support of charters if your mission is to support public schools? You don't owe them that fairness.

Will the Alliance fundraise and act as fiscal agent for charters?

Why does the Alliance take political positions in the first place?
Sorry, but the Alliance is only tweeting articles they like. You can check.
Ed said…
20 years ago, Ellen Roe, Reese Lindquist and downtown crowd formed "Step Forward" to funnel corporate money into running the district "like a business" and get rid of parent advocates like Sidles (and later co-opt Wales, Hagopian and make a hypocrit of Scott Barnhart). Today the org has a more public face=the "Alliance".

Kinda like the mob is "The Family".
Charlie Mas said…
I got an email from Rachel Hug at the Alliance about this blog post.

"Hi Charlie,
Just wanted to reach out....thanks, as always, for your interest in the Alliance. Just a quick note that your recent post about our Twitter feed was unfortunately incomplete. As I'm sure you are aware, the Alliance for Education is officially neutral on charters. As such, we've been sharing out opinions both pro- and con for 1240. I’ve attached a sample.
Thanks for making that correction, as well as correcting the characterization of the Alliance as a "subsidiary" of the Chamber. We are not. As you also are probably aware, as a long time education observer, we are and have always been a Chamber affiliate, having been founded in 1995 as the result of a merger between three education-oriented groups, one of them being connected to the Chamber.
Hope you are well!


My reply:


I was not aware that the Alliance for Education is neutral on charters, officially or otherwise. Why is the Alliance neutral on charters? Who made that decision? How was it made? Was there a vote of the Board? Was it an executive decision?

The Alliance's mission has changed over time from serving exclusively as a fundraising organization and fiscal agent to acting as an advocacy organization. That troubles me. It invites conflicts of interest that should not be present.

More to the point, I-1240 represents a significant threat to Seattle Public Schools as an institution. A single conversion charter would bring havoc to the District's tightly stretched capacity. I-1240 threatens the District's ability to manage levy dollars. The initiative also would draw desperately needed funding from the District. I-1240 is clearly detrimental to Seattle Public Schools and the Alliance is not acting as a critical friend - or any kind of friend - to offer any support to I-1240. I don't understand how an organization that calls itself a partner to Seattle Public Schools (as you do on your FAQs page) can offer any support to the initiative at all. I don't understand how an organization that calls itself a partner to Seattle Public Schools can even remain neutral on the question.

If you choose to remain neutral on the ballot measure, then don't tweet about it at all. There is no way to claim neutrality while offering further promotion, distribution, and your tacit endorsement of articles in support of the initiative. Doing the same for articles in opposition does not achieve neutrality. The suggestion that a friend of the District would even seek to remain neutral is detrimental to the District. In this case, the Alliance is no kind of friend to Seattle Public Schools.

Thank you for your attention,

Charlie Mas
Jan said…
Bravo, Charlie! Nailed it!
Anonymous said…
Has the Alliance for Education always sponsored the "State of the District" event? I was invited, and am attending, the one this year. I checked their website and there isn't anything on the page about it..(not under A4E or SPS events. It appears it is by invitation only?

info as emailed here:

You are confirmed to attend the 2012 Seattle Public Schools Annual State of the District

Thursday, November 1, 2012
11:30am – 1:30pm

Perkins Coie LLC
1201 Third Avenue, 49th Floor
Seattle, WA 98101

We encourage attendees to travel by Bus or Central Link Light Rail.

Please note: we are not able to provide parking validation if you choose to park in the building.

Registration begins at 11:30am
Program begins promptly at 12:00 pm

Our speakers include: Sara Morris, President & CEO of the Alliance for Education • School Board President Michael DeBell • Superintendent Jose Banda •
Community Reflection by Maud Daudon, President & CEO, Metropolitan Seattle Chamber of Commerce

Lunch will be provided by the Alliance for Education.

-sps parent
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