Alliance for Education Community Breakfast

There’s still time to RSVP to join the Alliance for Education and hundreds of other supporters of public education in celebrating the students, teachers, and principals of Seattle Public Schools at the Alliance for Education's 11th annual Community Breakfast on Thursday, March 28.

This year’s keynote speaker, John Danner, co-founder and former CEO of Rocketship Education is currently working as the founder of a newly established online education software development company. He will share lessons he has learned in advancing blended and personalized K-12 learning through technological innovation.

The event will take place on Thursday, March 28, 2013 at The Westin Seattle, 1900 Fifth Avenue 98101. Doors will open at 7:00am, the breakfast program begins at 7:30am, and the program is scheduled to conclude at 8:45am.

I won't be there. While I have supported the Alliance and attended the annual community breakfast in the past, I cannot do so now. I do not believe that the Alliance is the devil, but they are not simply a fundraising institution for Seattle Public Schools. Compare the Alliance with the Bellevue Schools Foundation, which acts as a fundraising institution for the Bellevue school district without any policy advocacy. The Alliance, on the other hand, is now primarily an advocacy organization and I do not share their perspective. Simple as that.

Once the Alliance took policy direction from the district. Now the Alliance attempts to set the policy direction for the District. The Alliance once served as a neutral fundraiser for the District, but now their advocacy role outweighs their fundraising role. The Alliance was once an appropriate way for individual community members to make donations to address district-wide needs rather than the needs of individual schools. Today they are a local conduit for national Education Reform organizations to attempt to influence Seattle Public Schools policy. The Alliance now has little, if any connection with the community. They are little more than the education arm of the Chamber of Commerce. It has become a political organization, which is fine, but I don't share their politics.

This leaves a niche open for another institution to arise to serve purely as a fundraising organization for Seattle Public Schools without the heavy advocacy that dominates the Alliance for Education. I hope someone will see that and fill that niche.


Disgusted said…
I'd place $100 on to see whether or not John Danner tells the audience that Rocketship eliminates music and art. My guess is he will remain silent on this issue.
Anonymous said…
If they REALLY wanted to celebrate education, why don't they rent out the Convention Center for a Sat or a Sun and invite the area teachers, custodians, librarians, principals, deans, office staff, cafeteria workers ...

WHY is their party during a workday when none of those working people could show up ... and rub elbows with all the people who know better ??

People who know better than to have a real job really helping kids, cuz in 2013 America it is most profitable to be

suep. said…
Ah yes, that famous Rocketship Education, Inc. "blended learning" model in which they park 30-40 poor English Language Learner kids in front of computers for hours on end with only a non-credentialed teaching assistant overseeing their "education."

Speaking of online learning, apparently it does not work well for struggling students, is more likely to lead to higher attrition rates and incomplete classes, and may in fact exacerbate the achievement gap.

Online classes may worsen educational achievement gap, study shows - Seattle Times, March 17, 2013

It’s one of the most hyped ideas in higher education today — the hope that college courses taught online can drive down the cost of a degree, and make it easier for working students to complete their college education.

But a new study comparing the success rates of online and traditional, face-to-face courses taught at Washington’s community colleges shows more students drop out, and fewer get a passing grade, when they take a class online than when they take it in a classroom.

And the students who fare the worst are those who are already struggling in college, raising the possibility that a push to more online classes could exacerbate the higher-education achievement gap.

The study was done by the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University, at the request of Washington’s community colleges. (...)

The Trouble With Online College - NY Times Feb. 18, 2013

Stanford University ratcheted up interest in online education when a pair of celebrity professors attracted more than 150,000 students from around the world to a noncredit, open enrollment course on artificial intelligence. This development, though, says very little about what role online courses could have as part of standard college instruction. College administrators who dream of emulating this strategy for classes like freshman English would be irresponsible not to consider two serious issues.

First, student attrition rates — around 90 percent for some huge online courses — appear to be a problem even in small-scale online courses when compared with traditional face-to-face classes.

Second, courses delivered solely online may be fine for highly skilled, highly motivated people, but they are inappropriate for struggling students who make up a significant portion of college enrollment and who need close contact with instructors to succeed.(...)

If it doesn't work for the ostensibly more mature and independent college student, why should we think that online learning would work any better for younger kids, who definitely need adult interaction and feedback in order to thrive emotionally and academically?

Ah, but it's so much cheaper since you don't need to hire a fully fledged teacher to supervise these little student-bots, and there's so much money to be made in mass-marketed mandated online curricula, so it's win-win-win for those ed reformers who are invested in Public Education, Inc., and who don't really care about the well-being of the kids at the heart of it.

Let's not forget that the Alliance for Education is a division of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, and has received over $30 million from the pro-tech, anti-teacher Gates Foundation since 2000.



From a recent Alliance/Chamber job listing: ...Alliance for Education staff are employees of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and participate in the Chamber's comprehensive benefits programs that are described on the Chamber website, where a detailed job announcement is posted.
suep. said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
suep. said…
For the record...

Alliance for Education
Date: February 2000
Purpose: to improve teaching and learning by enhancing student access to technology
Amount: $25,464,998

Term: 122
Topic: College-Ready
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Seattle, Washington
Grantee Website:


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:


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

Term: 58
Topic: College-Ready
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Seattle, Washington
Grantee Website:


(Btw, the Gates Foundation has recently redone its web site, so previous links to its grants database no longer work.)
mirmac1 said…
$$Oh Goody$$
Well, I'm glad you posted this Charlie because I, too, have some information on the Alliance.

Did you know they are all employees of the Chamber of Commerce? I did not know that but I was at their website (for another purpose) and saw a job opening (for Communications director if you are interested) and it said that.

I had to smile - Rocketship. Of course, they would love Rocketship even though they haven't been around long or to scale except in one area of California.

I have attended these shindigs in the past (and donated) but I won't be going either.
Kate Martin said…
Would it be better to just go print some snappy buttons that say "Get A4E out of policy advocacy!" It would cost a small amount to print a very short run of buttons and then folks could attend the breakfast and speak to all and everyone about how the district needs money, not more management.
I just got my invite to the event and they want a suggested $150 donation. Wow, that figure has gone up every year. You get a good idea who will be attending.

Kate, not even worth the effort. These people are not going to listen. What will help is to support people like you for Mayor who are not going the ed reform route (Burgess).
Anonymous said…
If I can afford it and take time off, I would go to hear about Rocketship. I don't know much about it except from some of the references here and quick trip to their website. If we can have Montessori, STEM, STEAM, language immersion, why not a school like Rocketship?


suep. said…
Well, for starters, Rocketship Education, Inc. is a business, a charter chain, which would run the school, therefore there is the question of public oversight.

So it is not comparable to Montessori, language, immersion, STEAM or STEM, which are programs that are run within SPS schools with SPS oversight.
Anonymous said…
Yes, but why can't we look at that model and see if there are any benefits? Some schools are getting ipads to learn off? Maybe it would help with differentiation, skills building, language acquisition? Could be an asset in schools with large class size, not enough adults in a room, and hugh variations of needs in a classroom.

Curious, Rocketship's main model is that the kids do about an hour a day in front of a computer. This has pros and cons but they are with a facilitator which is how Rocketship cuts its costs (fewer teachers). They are so small-scale at this point, I don't think there's a lot to learn from.
Also, just to note, that over 20 years and 40 states, there is no large scale innovation coming out of charters that any district has found they wanted to copy. I'm still waiting for these innovations that will change education.
Charlie Mas said…
curious, we have a school like Rocketship: Queen Anne Elementary.

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