Monday, March 1, 2010

Greeting from new Alliance President & CEO, Sara Morris

Greetings! It is a true privilege to take the helm of the Alliance today. I look forward to collaborating with leaders and advocates across the city to continue the drive for meaningful increases in student achievement in Seattle Public Schools.

This is an exciting time in education, both nationally and locally. It is my hope that Seattle can emerge as a national model for success. With the talent and resources our community has to offer, we are a city better positioned than most. Through an openness to innovation, a willingness to speak frankly, and a dedication to crafting solutions rather than merely critiques, we can make major advancements. If we hold high expectations not only of the students we serve, but also of ourselves as teachers, administrators and leaders, we will have a district that provides every child with the tools and knowledge needed to thrive.

Seattle boasts a large and active community of education advocates; every city should be so lucky. From time to time there may be honest disagreements about how to solve certain problems. But a core belief in the transformative power of a quality education - and the fundamental role public education plays in a healthy, functioning democracy - unites us.

I know first-hand that urban public schools can be high-performing schools; my children are in one. As a parent with kids in the system, I look forward to connecting the dots between policy decisions and grassroots reality. I am honored to join you, and look forward to the conversations that follow.

Sara Morris, AFE


  1. I'm hearing a lot of complaints about the biased survey the Alliance is conducting.

    What is your response to the accusations of bias in the survey, Ms Morris?

  2. What's the latest from your Community Engagement Task Force? They haven't posted an update in over a year and they never actually did anything.

    Has this effort been abandoned? Is the Task Force defunct? If so, then why is it still so prominent on your web site and why is there no notice that it has been closed? Does this accurately represent the Alliance's commitment to Community Engagement? If not, then what went wrong with the Task Force? What steps will you take to prevent similar failures?

  3. Why doesn't the Alliance just raise money for schools and stop pushing a political perspective?

    When you write: "an openness to innovation, a willingness to speak frankly, and a dedication to crafting solutions rather than merely critiques, we can make major advancements" who is it that you don't think is open to innovation? Who is unwilling to speak frankly? Who isn't dedicated to crafting solutions?

    Seattle does indeed have a community offering their talent and resources. Why aren't those offers accepted?

    Who is making the policy decisions and why aren't they already connected to grassroots reality? Do you mean Alliance policy or District policy?

  4. I enjoy your right wing framing of the issues. Have you ever considered blaming the people in charge of the collapsing system, the people paid the most who design the collapsing system, instead of blaming the underlings who keep the system from collapsing everyday?
    Let's get REAL about your fascist inspired agenda - it has NOTHING to do with the problem solving needed to provide the kids of all citizens access to opportunity. Your agenda is about wrecking the little itty bit of power teachers have to tell status seeking mandarins that their ideas are just mandarin aggrandizing show boating distractions from real problem solving.
    Robert M. Murphy
    Franklin High Math Teacher, who has to daily deal with the flood of unfunded half baked "reform" nonsense, NOT speaking on behalf of any organization - (unless your professional liars need statements to lie about, I have certainly left you plenty to twist out of context! do you have karl rove, lee atewater & roger ailes acolytes helping you with your messaging?)

  5. Arne Duncan mentioned in a speech from about October that there are appx. 1400 departments, schools and colleges of eduction in the U.S. or North America.

    This is my fifth year teaching. I have NEVER had a non lesson plan idea for the classroom presented with the steps detailed to accomplish the idea. I have NEVER seen a count of the number of seconds or minutes, on average, per student per class needed to accomplish the idea, or a count of the time needed per day, per week, or per year. I've seen countless power points with the same kind of grandiose change-the-world blather I experienced as a database support serf at microsoft for 2 ++ years, and as an email server support serf.
    I have NEVER seen an idea paid for.
    I have seen plenty of blame the teacher slick presentations from your organization, NCTQ, Gates, Broad ... yawn.


    "It was a custom introduced by this prince and his ministry (very different, I have been assured, from the practices of former times) that after the court had decreed any cruel execution, either to gratify the monarch's resentment, or the malice of a favorite, the Emperor always made a speech to his whole council, expressing his great lenity and tenderness, as qualities known and confessed by all the world. This speech was immediately published through all the kingdom; nor did anything terrify the people so much as those encomiums on his Majesty's mercy; because it was observed, the more these praises were enlarged and insisted upon, the more inhuman was the punishment, and sufferer more innocent."
    Gulliver's Travels, I

  6. Alliance, please tell us who designed the survey that is currently up and running. We have questions about it.
    Surely as a 501c, as a transparent organization deidcated to the students of Seattle, their teachers, and their schools, you will quickly respond to this request?
    You can post it here, along with contact information. We'd appreciate it.
    Thank you,
    A Seattle citizen.

  7. Hey, Alliance,

    I know that you're new to blogging, but here's how it works:

    You write something and post it.
    Other people post comments and responses to it.
    You, in turn, respond to their comments.

    See, it's supposed to be interactive. If you're just going to write things, post them, and walk away then there's no need to publish a blog; you could stick to the old one-way communication of a newsletter.

  8. ...or the Alliance could just choose not to participate in the conversation. Seems like a modus operendi: Have desired outcomes, post these outcomes as "talking points" or a "survey," ignore the conversation, use the biased information gathered from the "survey" and voila' you have "data" to support your desired outcomes!
    It's worked before...But I think people are catching on: You should hear the TRUE conversations around town about how transparent this whole "reform" thing is becoming.

    Too bad the reformers aren't part of the conversation - they've got their blinders on because they just KNOW what's best for the community.

    But I want to see if their system works. I'm going to post a couple things here, and if no one refutes of even discusses them (or if I don't log onto this blog again) then I'll just assume I'm correct on all points, that the community supports me, and publish my "results":
    "The Constitution is a dangerous document..." executive!""Black is white!"
    "Night is day!"

  9. Oh, wait, I have to have community meetings, too, where I present my desired outcomes to poor people and steer them into accepting what I say as fact.
    I'll get right on that.

  10. Ms Morris, thank you for removing that odious survey from the website. I'm sure many appreciate it, including me.
    As the new leader of the Alliance, I hope you can direct it back to its roots as a supported of education in Seattle, and away from the recent path of teacher-bashing. I know you had nothing to do with it, as a new leader, and hope that you see that there are many, many educators in Seattle who are eagar to listen, eagar to contribute to your goals of supporting Seattle's kids by supporting education.
    Sometimes education has to change, no doubt (it does all the time, actually: educators are NOT the entrenched dinosaurs some might claim.) But educators, or good ones, are crucial to the discussion, as they are the ones that will teach the children. If you leave them out, if you condone these sorts of defamations such as that survey, you will lose the connection to educators who are willing and able to help, and, further, you will be contributing to the current slew of biased opinions being thrown about the media regarding educators.
    Thanks again for removing the survey. That was a wise move.
    I apologize also for my snide comments above, but this IS a blog, and nobody seems to be listening...

  11. It's pretty clear by now that there is no intention to engage people on this blog. And you're the folks who are going to help Seattle Public Schools with their community engagement?

  12. New leader, but same old Alliance.

    The biased survey has been taken down from the web site but it is back as a telephone push poll.

    You really are deceitful bastards.

  13. Yes. The public will know. They will also know who is funding this survey, its "desired outcomes," and why, exactly, the Alliance has morphed from a supported of Seattle Publi Schools into a lackey of whoever pays them the big bucks.
    Try putting that freakin' 8.5 million into the classrooms...That's about 110 teachers. Schools are cutting FTE left and right, and you're paying for biased surveys bashing teachers. can't say it, I can't find words strong enough.

    How do you sleep at night? I'm very curious.
    Are you at peace with yourself for shovelling money into campaigns to disparage educators? Did you tell your kid that you're dissing their teacher?

  14. As of 07:00, Sunday 28 March, there are no responses from Alliance people in any of the 3 diaries posted about teacher "quality".

    Dear Alliance people - I know the job market stinks. I'm 50, this is my 3rd career and the 4th recession I've been part of. For those of you who need to keep a paycheck coming so that you're not living in a cardboard box under the Ballard Bridge, so your kids can stay in their school, so you won't be exposed to rot in financial purgatory due to fear of losing your "health" insurance, I KNOW how the game works. You jump when they say "jump", you cheer when they say "cheer", you boo when they say "boo". The stench from doing a rotten job will wash off, "Norma Rae" is a movie and it ain't reality, the squeaky wheel don't get the grease, it gets ground down and chucked, OR, it just gets just chucked.

    This emphasis on 1 critical group of the front line workers in education conveniently shifts focus on systemic problems, in particular it shifts focus from those who are actually in charge of the systems. It shifts focus from those in charge, because those in charge are NOT being held accountable for the disgraceful state of the systems, or for the quality of their management.

    I do NOT believe that rich people like Gates and Broad want to turn this country into 1 of the normal global society of squalor, where every time 1 of their friends or family wants to buy some groceries or some bauble, the friend of family member needs to be escorted by armed guards inside of armored vehicles.

    I suspect that people like Gates and Broad do want plenty of servile servants, doormats, butt kissers, back scratchers, sychophants, and toadies. They're different from you and me. In a world of real competition and real merit, the only justification for allowing those who were successful at some commerical endeavors to become social tinkerers is that the tinkerers have the best marketing. They're different from you and me.

    CASSIUS: Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
    Like a Colossus, and we petty men
    Walk under his huge legs and peep about
    To find ourselves dishonourable graves.

  15. As you're probably well aware, from table 276 of the Statistical Abstract of United State, the median family income of first time freshmen at 4 year colleges in $77,000. As you're probably well aware, from table 677, there are about 80,000,000 households (not families) who had under 75k of money income in 2007, and about 37,000,000 with 2007 household incomes over 75k.

    I grew up on welfare, went to public schools in Holyoke, MA., was fortunate enough to start in 1978 at Boston College ... and went to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and went to Johnson and Wales Culinary, and finally got a B.A. degree from the U.W. in math in '97. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU community, for those opportunities!! Thanks to everyone who helped me learn the $ocial more$ of the other $ocial cla$$e$!

    Dear Alliance people, and all education think tank people - it is highly probable that you come from the upper quintiles of household income and household wealth. The phony merit claims of Broad and Gates will NOT result in a teaching corps educating society's young to go create and to go improve the systems needed to bring 6+++ billion people clean water, sewage systems, clothing, shelter, health care, education for their young, care for their aged, reliable food, meals with their loved ones after work, entertainment, transportation for goods and services, travel ... should ONLY the oppspring of the affluent, or the affluent, get to hike the Grand Canyon? The phony "merit" schemes of the billionaires will result in another pool of workers who are so terrified of losing their tenuous grip on relative affluence, that they'll shut up and do what they're told by their better$. There will be LESS opportunity for those not in the upper quintiles of relative wealth to move up, and there will be MORE insecurity for those already in the upper quintiles - see the last 40 years and 4 recessions.

    Is that the society YOU want?

    R. Murphy

    CAESAR: Let me have men about me that are fat;
    Sleek-headed men and such as sleep o' nights:
    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
    He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.

    (p.s. pardon the writing gaffes - I can't edit online very well - typewriters, typewriters, typewriters. )