A feisty internet group of educators, called the Badass Teachers Association (BAT) launched on June 14, 2013. As of today the closed FaceBook group is at 25,619 members and growing like kudzu.
What is the Badass Teachers Association?
The About page of the FaceBook group states that is is “a diverse group of families and education professionals who wish to reclaim America’s public education system.” The group has engaged in organized group actions such as massive phone and email campaigns. Group leaders announce the mass action campaigns a few days in advance so that as many BATs as possible can be part of the action. On June 24, 2013 the group flooded the White House with hundreds of calls and emails to remove Secretary of Education Arne Duncan from office. Incidentally Duncan has never been a teacher and does not play one on TV. Yesterday BAT members stormed the NEA’s switchboard to request that NEA remove their backing of Common Core and corporate interests in education.
Who founded the Badass Teachers Association?
Dr. Mark Naison: professor of African-American Studies and History at Fordham University, Director of Fordham’s Urban Studies Program
Priscilla Sanstead: parent activist founder of Beyond School, a facebook networking group for folks passionate about learning
Marla Kilfoye: parent activist and teacher from Long Island
The group lists their mission as:
Badass Teachers Association was created to give voice to every teacher who refuses to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality through education. BAT members refuse to accept assessments, tests and evaluations created and imposed by corporate driven entities that have contempt for authentic teaching and learning.
They state their goals as:
BATs aim to reduce or eliminate the use of high stakes testing, increase teacher autonomy in the classroom and work to include teacher and family voices in legislative decision-making processes that affect students.
Why the name Badass Teachers Association?
A statement by the administrators about the name on the group’s page:
There have been many discussions about the name of the group. There are some who feel it is offensive or unprofessional to use the word “badass” and are uncomfortable with its use. We disagree. As Dr. Naison says: “We’ve had enough. We are not your doormats. We are not your punching bags. We are some of the hardest working, most idealistic people in this country and we are not going to take it anymore. We are going to stand up for ourselves, and stand up for our students even if no organization really supports us. We are Badass. We are legion. And we will force the nation to hear our voice!”
We hope that conversations about changing the name no longer continue. To that end, page administrators have been asked to end or delete any comments and/or threads where this becomes the topic. Our intention is to promote the goals of the group and move forward with our efforts.
Are you a Badass Teacher?
When another teacher I know added me to the group- I first thought, “What the heck is this group? I don’t want to join a bunch of crazy union activists in a giant negative complainfest!” I also found the name off-putting and almost clicked the little FaceBook spoke to leave the group.
As I stuck around, read the threads, laughed at the memes that various teachers created (I made the ones for this article :>), asked questions, and participated in the discussions- my initial thoughts changed. I started embracing the bold badassery of the group, the camaraderie, and finding kindred spirits in the discussions. For the most part, I’ve always been a creative, spunky teacher–in this group I realized that, YES, I AM A BADASS TEACHER!
In the first few days of the group, it seemed that educators were soooo relieved to have found a venue where they could vent about their shared frustrations. A small minority of more “veteran” teachers talked down to newer teachers in the group, one teacher even referred to others in the thread as “little people.” Others would announce their departure with dramatic gusto, like a petulant fourth grader stomping out of the classroom. (Hello!? Why couldn’t they just click the spoke quietly and leave? Or message the groups administrators? Whatever).
However, for the most part- it was like watching a giant emotional zit pop. After the initial emotional explosion, I’ve noticed that for the most part the dialogue has become a tad healthier and more solution-oriented. I ignore the overly negative drama mamas and pessimisstic put-down papas and stick with the solution-oriented winners in the group. The group appears to be moving more in a solution, directed action-oriented community, rather than a chaotic whine-o-rama.
The group is still in its nascent stages. Here are a few big picture action and discussion themes that I’ve seen popping up in the group thus far:
1. Declining teacher pay and deterioration of benefits, including pensions
2. Erosion of teacher autonomy, teacher’s rights and the rise of the scripted-teaching monolith
3. Dynamic discussions about Common Core Standards (like it’s an imminent tsunami)
4. Frustration with Bill Gates, his foundation, the corporatization of public education
5. Charter Schools
6. Dissatisfaction with the current US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, disappointment with President Obama’s promises to educators,
..and the list spirals on…
I’ve opted to stay in the group because I’ve made some great connections and have enjoyed the camaraderie–and to be able to talk about the kinds of things that you just have to be a teacher to understand.
Are a you a badass teacher? Or have you been teaching a painfully scripted curriculum for so long that you have lost your voice? Have you been hiding out in fear of losing your job for teaching outside the matrix, but what’s best for kids?
What to Do Next IF You’re A Badass Teacher
Even if you’re repelled by the wild name, but seek a supportive, active, and safe group of refuge of other like-minded teachers, go here now to request to join the group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/BadAssTeachers/ It is a closed group, so please be patient as an admin will manually add you. If you don’t like it, you can always leave, and be a lone badass (but that’s not as fun or productive to be alone in your badassery).
P.S. Once you’re in the Badass Teachers Association, make sure to find your state’s Badass Teacher group. I know New Jersey has a meetup today, and we’re planning a faburific one for Washington next week. If you’re in Washington State, RSVP in the Facebook group, and join us.
Make sure to say “hi” to me when you’re there and introduce yourself– I look forward to connecting with you.