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ALLIANCE FOR TEACHING

In 2007, the Joint Venture board established K-12 public education as one of its priorities and launched a multi-faceted effort focused exclusively on teaching, since teacher quality is known to be the number-one determinant of student achievement.

We were fortunate to receive two full years of seed funding from the Morgan Family Foundation, which we used to establish the Silicon Valley Alliance for Teaching, and to hire an executive director. We selected Colleen Wilcox to head the initiative.

The Alliance promptly established a strong advisory board, recruited members to serve on committees and task forces, raised money, and led work in four project areas, as follows:

1. RAFT. The Alliance was instrumental in establishing a San Mateo county satellite site for the popular Resource Area for Teachers (RAFT) program.

2. Hats Off to Teachers. Launched in 2008, the “Hats Off” program provides retail discounts to public school teachers. More than 250 merchants in San Mateo and Santa Clara County are participating in the program.

3. Math Matters. The Alliance established “Math Matters,” an intensive, summertime training program modeling best practices and utilizing curriculum pioneered at the nation’s leading laboratories for teacher development (University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the Intel Math Institute). The Alliance raised $200,000, secured and trained master teachers, and enrolled Silicon Valley’s first crop of teachers in the program in August of 2010.

4. National Board Certification for Teachers. Motivated by scholarship showing clear linkages between NBCT and student achievement, the Alliance engaged a team of public policy master’s degree students from Stanford University to study ways Silicon Valley could increase the number of NBCTs in the teacher pool. The Alliance worked across the region to enact those recommendations, with continuing support from the Stanford Graduate School of Education and from the National Center for Board Certification.

Having exhausted the seed funds for the Alliance for Teaching, in June 2010 we recommended, and the board approved, the following steps for the future of the initiative in June 2010:

1. RAFT remains a freestanding operation, flourishing in the confines of the San Mateo County Office of Education.

2. Hats Off to Teachers continues as a Joint Venture program, maintained and expanded by Joint Venture’s core staff.

3. Math Matters: The day-to-day administration of the program is now under the auspices of the San Mateo County Office of Education.

4. National Board Certification for Teachers: We migrated the day-to-day operations of NBCT to the Silicon Valley Education Foundation.

All Joint Venture initiatives begin with a specific mission and identifiable goals and then are carried out to their logical conclusion. Successful initiatives culminate with their goals achieved. Others, after incubation by Joint Venture, ultimately transfer to partner organizations for long-term administration. Still others cannot reach the desired outcome due to a variety of circumstances. In all cases, we analyze the steps taken, the data collected, the accomplishments and the shortcomings, and then report the results of completed initiatives to our board and to the community.

The Alliance for Teaching was created to focus attention on teaching and teachers and develop a range of efforts that address challenges facing K-12 public school teachers in Silicon Valley.