Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What is the Nature of the District's Relationship with the Alliance?

What is the nature of the District's relationship with the Alliance for Education?

The Superintendent serves on the Alliance for Education Board of Directors, yet that position is not listed on her disclosure statement.

In the Board Action Report on the NWEA contract the disclosure statement is described like this: "On January 6, 2010, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson provided to the Board of Directors at its public meeting the disclosure of her appointments and the appointments of her husband, Bruce Johnson, to any non-profit boards (attached)." The disclosure statement is supposed to list her participation on ANY non-profit boards.

In the disclosure statement the list is described this way: "Appointment of you or your spouse as a non-salaried officer of a nonprofit corporation.". The statement concludes with this assertion: "These lists are complete to the best of my knowledge as of the date of my signing this disclosure statement."

When asked about the failure to list the office, Director Martin-Morris wrote:
The superintendent is on the Alliance for Education board. Since the Alliance was established to support SPS it was not included on the list.


But the disclosure statement doesn't suggest that it excludes any non-profits for any reason. And the description of the disclosure statement in the Board Action Report says that it includes ANY nonprofits.

I don't understand how Director Martin-Morris can believe that there is no potential conflict of interest between the Alliance and the District. It appears that Director Martin-Morris regards the Alliance as an agent of the District.

Was the Alliance for Education acting as an agent of the District when they formed the Our Schools Coalition to try to influence the District's contract with the teachers' union? How can the Alliance be taken seriously as a "critical friend" of the District when they are an agent of the District? It's not credible.

The Alliance says that they are an independent nonprofit organization. They say that they "act as a constructive partner to Seattle Public Schools."

What's the deal here? What is the relationship between the District and the Alliance? Is the Alliance independent or is it an agent of the District?

Wouldn't it be a lot easier for folks to just admit a mistake and to acknowledge that the Alliance should have been included on the list on the disclosure statement? That would be easy for most folks, but the District is pathologically incapable of admitting error.

5 comments:

Andrew Kwatinetz said...

Years ago (pre-Dr.G-J), I had this same concern & did some digging, and what I was told was the Alliance gives an automatic seat on their board to the current superintendent and the current school board president. So, perhaps that is why this isn't seen as a conflict of interest -- it's tied to the position - not the person, and it may signal more of a courtesy invite than true participation. Not sure if this is the situation now, but could be part of the explanation.

Dora Taylor said...

I see it now as an unholy alliance.

If you look around the Alliance's site, I don't have the links readily available at the moment, and go to the specific areas of funding, you will see that the majority of money comes from Gates and Broad.

Charlie Mas said...

I presume that ALL of the superintendent's positions on non-profit boards (the Broad Foundation, the NWEA, and the United Way of King County) are tied to her position. Does anyone think that she would be on the board of the United Way (or the other two) if she were not the superintendent of Seattle Public Schools?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I would agree with Andrew about her appointment being a courtesy. But the bigger issue is and always has been, what is the district's relationship with the Alliance? They have allowed the Alliance, at least in the past, to be at meetings no one in the public could attend. This was very troubling to me. A lot of public engagement gets run by or thru the Alliance (and maybe they are to blame for the lack thereof).

I know that some at the Alliance get very touchy when it is suggested that their work is dictated by the Superintendent but I don't see much independent thinking there.

Michael said...

Amazing that Harium said, "The superintendent is on the Alliance for Education board. Since the Alliance was established to support SPS it was not included on the list." That has to be one of the STUPIDEST answers I've ever heard from an elected official.