Seattle Public Schools leadership is recommending the district end its 20-year relationship with the Alliance for Education, Seattle’s local education fund.
THE current administration of Seattle Public Schools has announced plans to take steps to significantly diminish the 20-year relationship between the school district and the Alliance for Education, Seattle’s local education fund. We at the alliance are saddened by this and hope the Seattle School Board will consider a different approach.
The Alliance for Education has a long, proud history supporting students in Seattle Public Schools. Over the last two decades, the alliance has been honored to steward more than $155 million toward student success. We have worked across the Seattle community, with district leadership, educators, businesses, foundations, parents, neighborhood organizations and, most recently, labor to improve educational opportunity. Our efforts center on systemic initiatives benefiting all students, but particularly our most economically disadvantaged.
School districts gain strength from robust community partnerships. In Seattle — home to some of the most innovative companies and largest charitable foundations in the world — authentic engagement with business and philanthropy has and can continue to produce great outcomes for children.
The last few weeks have been turbulent for Seattle parents and families, and the matter of adequate school funding remains unresolved at the legislative level. Seattle Public Schools administrators have a unique opportunity to seize this moment and double down on building strong working ties with partners who are positioned to help. Now is precisely the wrong time to push community partners away.
At the Alliance for Education’s inception, former Superintendent John Stanford insisted that the alliance be an independent nonprofit, knowing that would bring objectivity and credibility to the district’s efforts to raise outside funds and pursue bold initiatives. This independence is fundamental to our ability to earn and keep the community’s trust. Donors hold us accountable for the effective use of their funds, and we in turn extend that accountability to our district partners.
Over the years, as with any long-term relationship, we have not always been in total agreement. But we have always agreed to put students first. From impactful literacy initiatives — such as Every Child a Reader, the powerful collective advocacy of the Our Schools Coalition and the nationally recognized Seattle Teacher Residency — we have collaborated to bring disparate partners together and do what’s best for kids. We incubate good work, test it and tee it up for the system to sustain. We will continue to do this, and hope the public-schools administration continues alongside us.
Because we are independent, our day-to-day work would be little affected, even if the school district takes the actions it has described. Our focus remains on children. The Seattle Teacher Residency, our fiscal services to schools, our awards for outstanding educators: All will continue, and more. Moving forward, we recognize our city and region are changing, and we will change with it. We are enthusiastic about expanding our current work and establishing new partnerships with even greater impact.
Both of us are products of public schools and parents to Seattle Public Schools students and graduates. Our belief in public education as the cornerstone of democracy is total.
As a city, we are wrestling with big questions over how to manage our explosive economic growth in a manner that benefits the many, not just the few. The best antidote to economic disparity is a strong public-education infrastructure. This overarching belief is what will guide our next 20 years. The alliance remains open and willing to work with anyone, any time — including Sealtle Public Schools leadership — on efforts that benefit students in our public schools.