Monday, July 29, 2013

Public School Failure- "The Big Lie" on Which Current Education Policy Rest

As someone who has worked in the Bronx for the last 45 years, it drives me crazy to hear business leaders denounce public schools as the one failed institution in an otherwise thriving society. Hello! During the 1970's, when factories in the Bronx closed, business districts shuttered, banks refused to make loans and landlords abandoned and burned buildings that once held nearly half a million people, leaving the southern portion of the borough looking as though it suffered aerial bombardment, the public schools remained open, serving traumatized students with a shrinking array of resources. And these same schools were there ten years later when a crack epidemic hit the Bronx, providing a refuge from flying bullets and war torn streets.

That the academic performance of these schools suffered as a result of serving batteeed communities with limited resources is hardly surprising, but let us not forget they were there, on the ground, when private businesses ran away because they could not operate in such conditions.

And the teachers!! The Bronx teachers who went to work among burned out cars and vacant lots and crack vials and flying bullets were the Bronx's unsung heroes, valiantly serving children living in a war zone, helping young people abandoned by the rest of the country achieve a measure of self confidence and success at a time when few cared what happened to them

And now, the Arne Duncans and Wendy Kopps and Bill Gates of the world have the nerve to blame these same schools and teachers for the so-called "achievement gap" and the persistence of poverty and inequality in the United States. In a time when our biggest corporations have downsized and outsourced, exported jobs, and driven down wages, the public schools have actually done a better job upholding the living standards of Americans and defending it's best traditions, than their private sector counterparts.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Badass Teachers Association: Official Statement on Teach for America

At a time when our sisters and brothers in Chicago are being fired and while the city is signing a new contract with Teach for America, anyone on  the Badass Teachers Association site who defends Teach for America as an organization is going to BE BANNED from the group. We feel at this point in time that a defense of TFA is counterproductive to our mission here at BAT and a threat to all we stand for. BATS regard TFA as a replacement labor agency and will treat it and its supporters accordingly. Teach for America recruits and alumni are welcome so long as they do not defend organization policies which demean the teaching profession and encourage the firing of veteran teachers to make way for TFA Corps members

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Corporate School Reform on The Ropes

The corporate School Reform project is starting to implode. The Common Core Standards are generating huge opposition; Teach for America has turned into a strike breaking agency and is losing its support among progressives; parents are up in arms about how excessive testing is ruining their children's school experience and are starting to join the Opt Out movement. None of this, in the short run, is helping teachers. Our classrooms are being micromanaged, our tenure and job protections savaged; our pensions raided; our voices smothered. But as the Reform 'House of Cards" collapses, we will have an opportunity to present an alternative vision of what our schools should look like. Hopefully, after the casualties are mourned, we will have the energy and wherewithal to do this.

Why TFA Has Become A Badge of Shame

There are great teachers who have come out of Teach for America, some of whom are my former students. There are also school districts throughout the country, somet rural, some urban, where Teach for America Corps members once filled a real need. But the last two years, TFA has increasingly found spots for its Corps members in urban school districts where there is no teacher shortage, and in two disgraceful instances- Chicago and Philadelphia- large numbers of veteran teachers,many of them teachers of color, have been fired. This policy, to me, puts the organization beyond the pale for supporters of public education and education equity. And should provoke a crisis of conscience for former and current TFA members who entered the organization because they wanted to become teachers and work with children in need. Right now, for a growing number of education activists, being associated with TFA is a Badge of Shame. Unless TFA alumni, members and supporters fight to change its policies, or demand the organization's dissolution, the Shame will intensify and spread.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Five Arguments to Make To New Teach for America Recruits

1 An organization which brags about how its Corps members have successful careers in investment banking after they leave teaching and actally have a formal relationship with JP Morgan to facilitate that is deeply problematical. 

2. An organization which takes huge amounts of money from the Walton Foundation which is committed to privatizing public education needs to stop promoting itself as a force for equity

 3. An organization which tells its Corps members to avoid socializing with veteran teachers or eating in the Teachers cafeteria is sending a very negative message.

4. An organization which has a five week training period and then sends its Corps members into the most challenging classrooms in the nation's poorest neighborhoods  is on dangerous ground

5. An organization which agrees to have its Corps members as replacement labor after veteran teachers have been fired has no only relinquished the moral high ground, it has become immoral.

Why Teach for America is Seductive to Mayors and Legislators and Destructive to Everyone Else

Teach for America offers states and municipalities the opportunity to subcontract their teaching to non-union workers, saving large expenses in pensions and health care. Such a policy saves saves money, as subcontracting usually does; but it destroys a section of the local middle class, drives down compensation for all workers, and has several extremely destructive consequences for the quality of schools; 1. It destroys the mentoring and relationship building that lifetime teachers provide. 2. It creates a revolving door teaching force that undermines the
role of schools as community institutions. 3. It reduces instruction to test prep since the 5 week training TFAers get makes raising test scores the highest priority and includes cookie cutter, "teacher proof" advice on class management that leaves little room for the creativity that great teachers employ.

No matter what TFA leaders say, its methods lead to the destruction of public education as we have known it in the United States, and the emergence of alternative model which makes the union teacher and the lifetime educator an endangered species. It's implementation will also sharply widen gaps between those in private schools and public schools, and between high income and moderate/ low income communities, in terms of creative thinking and exposure to the arts, reinforcing and intensifying the nation's status as one of the most economically stratified societies in the world.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What the Badass Teachers Association Has Accomplished in the First Five Weeks of its Existence

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    The Badass Teachers Association has been very busy answering the assaults on Public Education. Here is a list of what we have done in the short month and a half we have been in existence. We are 23,000 strong and ready to call out people who are trying to destroy public education. We have been tweeting, calling, emailing, and using Facebook blitzing to do the following:
    Action 1 – We called, tweeted, and emailed for the removal of Arne Duncan
    Action 2 – We created State BATs so that we could organize by state and address specific state issues. We have all the states in the union covered
    Action 3 – We blitzed the NEA about their support of Common Core during RA in Atlanta and we had BATs at the RA draft an amendment to end support of CC
    Action 4 – We had a 911 Action that asked Duncan to intervene in Philly per request from Diane Ravitch and Randi Weingarten.
    Action 5 – We rolled out our House of Cards Series which will expose corporate deformers in a series of videos about all they are doing to Public Education; The introduction episode gave a summary of the hoax that they are perpetrating that public education is broken and we exposed Bill Gates for supporting agenda’s that are harming public education.
    Action 6 – We conducted a 911 Action for the Reauthorization of ESEA; specifically calling for conditions such as ending HST, removing CCSS, and to stop tying students tests scores to teacher evaluations.
    Action 7 – House of Cards Series Episode 1 – Calling out Eli Broad and the Broad Foundation for supporting agenda’s that are harming public education. Specifically training Superintendents to close schools and publishing a manual to close schools.
    Action 8 – 911 Action against Rahm Emanuel for Chicago Teacher layoffs.
    Action 9 – House of Cards Series Episode 2 – Asking for a reinvestigation into DC Schools Cheating Scandal and requesting Michelle Rhee be brought up on charges for her role in the cover up.
    Action 10 – 911 Action against TFA being placed in Chicago schools as teachers are laid off, NC ending tenure and supporting vouchers, and TN for highly qualified teacher amendment.
    From BTA Co-Founder, Long Island Teacher and Parent Marla Massey Kilfoyle

The Logic that Drove Teach for America to Become A Replacement Labor Agency

Last night, during a very interesting thread on Teach for America on the Badass Teachers Association page which included some current and former TFA Corps members, one TFAer pointed out that the organization's destructive and pernicious policy of placing its members in urban school districts like Chicago where large numbers of veteran teachers have been fired is a result of it's desire to reduce "The Achievement Gap." And therein lies "tragic flaw" that has made TFA a destructive force in the American educational landscape. Thinking that the most effective path to reducing poverty and inequality in the United States is RAISING TEST SCORES in low performing schools is strategy so bizarre, illogical and without historical precedent that it should have been laughed out of the conference room, but it has not only become an article of faith in Teach for America, but to a cross section of politicians and school reformers throughout the nation. The fact that child poverty and wealth inequality have actually skyrocketed during the years this strategy has been pursued has not given the TFA leadership and their powerful friends pause; but evidence based thinking is something they seem to never apply to themselves. They continue with their slash and burn mission, even though everything they are doing, as the article below argues, is based on false assumptions

Monday, July 22, 2013

Education Investors Meet a Popular Revolt

After the housing market collapsed, wealthy investors began honing in on the education sector, especially public K-12 education, as the next great opportunity for private investment. The main way to do this is was to define the entire sector as a "failure" divide it's stakeholders ( parents, teachers and students) against one another, and convince the public that teachers were both easily replaceable by technology and spoiled and over paid. To a remarkable degree, these investors succeeded in getting top leaders of the Democratic Party, including the Clintons, and an up and coming leader named Barack Obama, to buy into this vision, thereby undermining the normal political lines of defense against public services and public employees. The result has been an orgy of privatization and profiteering endorsed by both major parties. But then something incredible happened. While this "Great Barbecue" was taking place, once successful public schools were so deformed by excessive testing, and data driven teacher evaluation regimens, that parents from all sides of the political spectrum started rebellions and wondering why their children's school experience was becoming a nightmare. And so opposition to profiteering and privatization arose, not from unions and the Democratic Party, but from Republican, libertarian, moderate, liberal and leftist parents and teachers who in the past never cooperated with one another. Welcome to our reality- the Opt Out Zone and the BAT Cave! Warning Billionaires- Our Children and Our Schools and Our Jobs are not your pawns, not your playthings, not your data producers.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Teach for America-Our Modern Day Pinkertons

When Teach for America sent its Corps members into places like the Mississippi Delta where there was a genuine teacher shortage, I would still recommend students for the organization, even if i disagreed with its approach to teacher training and teacher retention. Now however, as TFA has sent its Corps members into district after district where veteran teachers have been fired to make places for them, I will have nothing to do with any student who decides to join the organization, as well as anyone who works for it. It has become a strike breaking agency, playing the same role the Pinkerton Corporation played in 19th Century labor disputes. I hope my fellow academics look closely at TFA's record in the last two years, and come to the same conclusion.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Mission Statement of the Badass Teachers Association

JULY 18, 2013

Dear Members - We would like to make it clear and concise what our mission is for this association of teachers.  We believe that our actions will occur in three phases and continue to evolve as the landscape of corporate deform evolves.
Phase 1 To call out the entities that are harming public education (Corporate
deformers and government officials/lawmakers). Time Frame: July/August

Phase 2 -To Educate the public about what is really going on in education policy.    
To pursue ways, prior to the start of the school year, to educate and  join in partnership with parent and student groups to actively stop the privatization of our public school system.  To also educate those teachers who are still in the dark about privatization efforts. Time Frame: Late July/August

Phase 3 - To continue to make public the hoax of that our public school system is broken and that this is one of the many lies being spread about public education. We will actively monitor and target public figures/politicians to demand they step up and increase support for public education. Time Frame: Late August/Year Round

We also want to make clear that we ARE NOT A POLITICAL ORGANIZATION.  WE DO NOT SUPPORT OR ENDORSE ANY POLITICAL PARTY. The only thing that we endorse is to return public education back to the public and teacher voice to the education conversations being had at both the federal and state level.

 Here is what we are clearly fighting against:

1.     Badass Teachers will fight against Common Core National Standards - this stance is rooted in an extensive review of research literature, policy documents, and advice of educational historians/experts (Ravitch, Krashen, and Cody).  This stance is in NO WAY ROOTED TO SUPPORT ANY POLITICAL PARTY. BATs  WILL NOT ALIGN THEMSELVES WITH ANY POLITICAL PARTY FIGHTING AGAINST CCSS.  WE BELIEVE THIS IS AN "EDUCATORS" FIGHT AND WE WILL FIGHT BASED ON ITS PROPENSITY TO HARM PUBLIC EDUCATION IN AMERICA.  This group is opposed to the forced imposition of Common Core Standards on teachers, schools and school districts. We do not exclude teachers who voluntarily work with Common Core Standards, but we vehemently oppose a one size fits all model of learning that is imposed through bribery, intimidation and extreme political pressure, for the profit of private companies, in a manner that brings with it increased testing and smothers student and teacher creativity.
2.    Badass Teachers will fight against High Stakes Testing and the excessive testing of our children.
3.    Badass Teachers will fight against teacher evaluations tied to student test scores
4.    Badass Teachers will fight against the corporate attempt to privatize public education, which has seen the closing of schools in urban and poverty areas and the subsequent opening of charter schools for profit or a voucher system that seeks to destroy neighborhood schools.
5.    Badass Teachers will fight against any federal or state educational policy or mandate that has been implemented without funding and extensive teacher input.
6.    Badass Teachers will fight against any attempt to assault, hinder, or deny our right to collective bargaining.

We hope that these 6 mission statements will allow you all to carry on conversations and dialogue as great Badasses always do. We also hope they will provide you with a clarification of our goals. An army of 23,000 Badass Teachers will not agree on all these elements but we do agree on most.  We want to thank you all for your continued support, time, and consideration.  Now let's get to work!

Respectfully your Co-Founders,
Mark Naison and Priscilla Sanstead
BAT General Manager

Marla Kilfoyle

Why People Love the Badass Teachers Association!

  Why People Love the BATS!
So excited by the  response to  The Badass Teachers Association at the fundraiser for an anti-testing candidate for NY Mayor, Bill De Blasio. It is hard to put in words how much people I met there, most of them teachers, and activist parents, LOVE the idea that a group like this exists!!! It gave them hope that they had allies in the incredibly uphill battle we face in NY not only against the Bloomberg Department of Education, but against the concentrated power of the city's financial elite who want the school closings, charter co-locations, and test based teacher and school evaluations to continue. Our power lies precisely in the fact that we are 22,000 LOOSE CANNONS who cannot be bribed or intimidated or bought, and will not necessarily be polite and civil in getting our points across. Diane Ravitch told me the same thing. The movement needs a large wing of activists who are perceived as crazy and unpredictable and the BATS are that group. Now we have to prove it in action. Are you down with this? Time for BAT Visits! Time for BAT Power! No Justice, No Peace!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Three Simple Arguments Against Common Core

Three simple arguments against Common Core.

1. CCCS costs money, and takes money away from things that make school enjoyable and exciting like art, music, hands on science, and physical education. 

2. It discriminates against huge groups of children for whom the standards are developmentally inappropriate

3 It forecloses investing in vocational and technical programs that we desperately need to create jobs for our young people in a fast changing economy

Teaching or Coaching Trayvon Martin

Woke up this morning thinking of Trayvon Martin. i would have loved to be his coach or teacher. Would have embraced the challenge of trying to direct his anger and passion and rebelliousness and courage into physical or artistic expression or self reflection through books that touched a chord and sparked his imagination. Would have loved looking him in the eye, putting my arm on his shoulder, and making the kind of connection that an older person who has experienced turmoil and anger can make with someone much younger going through the same thing. This is what I have done for the last 50 years, and is what I still do. It is the part of my work I love the most. And it makes the way he died hurt even more. The Trayvon Martins of our country are young people filled with promise. They need to be nurtured, inspired, mentored and loved, not shot down and killed, or suspended from school and locked away. There is a national sickness embodied in the response to this tragedy, and lies as much in the venom directed at Trayvon Martin as the identification with George Zimmerman.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Thoughts on Today's Verdict

Woke up this morning with a deep pain in my heart when I discovered that George Zimmerman was acquitted. We will find out in the next days and weeks just how much pain this inflicts. All I can think of is how I would feel if my Black grand daughter Avery, the light of my life, was a boy. A grand father should never have to think such thoughts.

What’s makes the verdict all the more more painful is  that the situation that led to Trayvon Martin’s death is one that is very familiar to me. I have walked in George Zimmerman’s shoes.  I have been on block patrol in my Brooklyn neighborhood. I've escorted very tough kids off my block when they've come to cause trouble. I've run basketball leagues in tough neighborhoods where I've had to make peace with neighborhood drug dealers. If that were me on patrol. nothing would have happened to Trayvon Martin. I would have approached him politely with an air of confidence and concern, as one physically confident person to another, showing him respect.  And he, like  the hundreds of the young people I have dealt with from comparable backgrounds, would have shown me respect back.  But this incident took a different turn because of what George Zimmerman brought to the table, with the result that a young life of promise was snuffed out. Why, because Zimmerman was a scared, insecure man who needed a gun to establish his authority. If he were a strong confident person who knew how to speak to young people who came from tough neighborhoods, there would have been no conflict and no need for a gun. This is the basis of good police work as well as good youth work. The best police officers command authority without every having to use their guns.

One more comment, for those who say Trayvon Martin was a “wannabee thug.” I grew up in a neighborhood where many young people were “wannabee thugs,” including me. I survived that phase and went on to be a college professor. So when I run into “wannabe thugs” during my teaching and coaching, I relate to them well, since I was once one of them. We understand one another. There was no mutual understanding on that fateful night in Florida. If George Zimmerman had been more respectful, and more tolerant,  and more secure, Trayvon Martin would have survived that encounter and lived a productive life. Who knows, he might have even ended up to be a college professor like me.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Three Good Reasons to Join the Badass Teachers Association

How do you know when a nation's education policy has gone awry?

1. When the two most powerful men shaping education policy in the country- Bill Gates and Arne Duncan, haven't taught a day in their life

2. When a celebrated organization called "Teach for America" trains talented students to LEAVE teaching after two years to shape education policy

3. When leaders of both major parties take turns bashing teachers and deluging their classrooms with tests and assessments.

Want to fight back?

Join The Badass Teachers Association.

No Justice. No Peace

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A Badass Teacher's Declaration of Independence

Teachers are in the cross-hairs of every ambitious politician and profit-hungry corporation in the nation. They want to script us, intimidate us, deprive us of our power and self respect and replace us with computers and temporary workers. They have bought off and/or neutralized the leadership of our unions, and turned foundations and the media into cliche spouting exponents of testing and rating systems based on junk science which will turn classrooms into zones of stress and demoralization for us and our students. We created this group so that teachers who want to fight back without fear and without compromise could find one another and draw strength from one another. This is not a group for the faint-hearted. We are fighting the richest and most powerful people in the country who control both major parties. They play rough. They play dirty. But what choice do we have? Who can we trust? If your pride tells you enough is enough, maybe this is time to "throw down" and this is the group for you. Nobody knows where this locomotive is heading. But I will be damned if I jump off it if the alternative is taking orders from people who have contempt for the very things I have devoted my life to.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Message of Support from Diane Ravitch to the Badass Teachers Association

Dear Members of the Badass Teachers Association,

I am honored to join your group.

The best hope for the future of our society, of public education, and of the education profession is that people stand up and resist.

Say "no." Say it loud and say it often.

Teachers must resist, because you care about your students, and you care about your profession. You became a teacher to make a difference in the lives of children, not to take orders and obey the dictates of someone who doesn't know your students.

Parents must resist, to protect their children from the harm inflicted on them by high-stakes testing.

Administrators must resist, because their job is changing from that of coach to enforcer of rules and regulations. Instead of inspiring, supporting, and leading their staff, they are expected to crack the whip of authority.

School board members must resist, because the federal government is usurping their ability to make decisions that are right for their schools and their communities.

Students must resist because their education and their future are being destroyed by those who would force them to be judged solely by standardized tests.

Everyone who cares about the future of our democracy must resist, because public education is under attack, and public education is a foundation stone of our democracy. We must resist the phony rhetoric of "No Child Left Behind," which leaves every child behind, and we must resist the phony rhetoric of "Race to the Top," which makes high-stakes testing the be-all and end-all of schooling. The very notion of a "race to the top" is inconsistent with our democratic idea of equality of educational opportunity.

We live in an era of ignorant policy shaped by politicians who have never taught a day in their lives.

We live in a time when politicians and policymakers think that all children will get higher test scores if they are tested incessantly. They think that students who can’t clear a four-foot bar will jump higher if the bar is raised to six feet.

We live in a time when entrepreneurs are eyeing the schools and their budgets as a source of profit, a chance to monetize the children, an emerging market. Make no mistake: They want to make education more cost-effective by eliminating your profession and eliminating you. Their ideal would be 100 children in front of computers, monitored by classroom aides.

You must resist, because if you do not, we will lose public education in the United States and the teaching profession will become a job, not a profession. What is happening today is not about "reform" or even "improvement," it is about cutting costs, reducing the status of teachers, and removing from education every last shred of the joy of learning.

It is time to resist.

Badass Teachers, as you resist, be creative. Writing letters to the editor is good but it is not enough. Writing letters to the President is good, but it is not enough.

Be creative. The members of the Providence Student Union have led the way. They staged a zombie march in front of the Rhode Island Department of Education to demonstrate their opposition to the use of a standardized test as a high school graduation protest. They invited 60 accomplished professionals to take the released items from the test, and most failed. This convincingly demonstrated the absurdity of using the test as a requirement for graduation. When the state commissioner of education who was the main backer of the tests scheduled her annual “state of education” speech, the students scheduled their first “state of the student” speech.

Act together. A single nail gets hammered. When all the nails stick up, the people with the hammers run away. When the teachers of Garfield High School in Seattle boycotted the MAP test, they won: the test was canceled and no one faced retribution.

Be brave. When you stand together and raise your voices, you are powerful.

Thank you for counting me as one of your own.

I salute you.

Diane Ravitch

When Reason Doesn’t Work: Another Explanation for “The Rise of the BATs

 Many people have criticized the "Badass Teachers Association" for its unprofessional sounding name and in your face image, but the meteoric rise of this group didn't come out of nowhere.  All over the country educators have faced policies imposed from above by education officials-political appointees all- which violate their best practices and common sense, but have had no success whatsoever modifying these policies by writing position papers, mounting petition drives or testifying before the few open forums where such policies are discussed

Let's use New York State as an example. During the last year, the Governor, the Legislature, and the State Education Department have imposed on school districts throughout the state protocols for teacher evaluation that are expensive, complicated, time consuming, unfair, and in the judgment of most principals in the state, completely unworkable. Some of the best principals in the state organized to challenge the new system. They wrote an extensive, well researched critique of the policies, circulated a principals letter with thousands of signatures, got even more signatures on a parents letter, and tried to testify at allegedly "open hearings" held by the state's "Education Reform Commission," but found themselves marginalized and rebuffed.  The policies have been literally rammed down the throat of school districts by the Governor, who now have to cope with massive demoralization of teachers and administrators, the smothering of creative pedagogy in favor of "teaching to the test" and the cancellation of beloved art, music and sports programs to pay for the unfunded mandates the new system requires.

This  misapplication and intensification of high stakes testing provoked a huge statewide test revolt organized by parents, concentrated in Long Island, the Hudson Valley and Western New York,  as well as a broad based movement against Common Core Standards,  but is it any wonder that teachers, whose union leaders reluctantly supported the plan, are also rising up?

Teachers and children's lives are being destroyed every day in New York State  and some teachers decided that  maybe a new, more confrontational style was required to deal with the arrogance of policy makers and  the astro turf, billionaire supported education policy groups behind the new policies.  So Badass Teachers Association was born, fueled by that rage and disappointment.

That is touched a chord with teachers throughout the nation, and the world, says something about how much concentrated power, and concentrated wealth, has undermined even the the pretense of democratic discussion regarding education policies.

Maybe it's time to fight fire with fire.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

While Chicago's Philip Arnold is a "Badass Teacher!"

Badass or Badapple?

Reading through my newsfeed (Yes, I actually enjoy ALL the posts from this group and the state groups I am a member of) and I have a couple of observations I would like to address.

1. This is the Badass Teachers' Association. This is not a group for the weak minded, soft hearted, corporate reform driven personality. This is more than a "group". This is a group of "teachers", badass teachers. We are here because we are BADASS. We are badass because we care too much to remain silent and sit idly by while corporations profit off the prescribed "reforms" of the political arena. We are badass because we refuse to be bullied any longer by those who feel that their political affiliations and over stuffed pocket books entitle them to be the decision makers for OUR PROFESSION.

2. We will not always agree about the proper path to take or the correct words to use, but we all agree that we must SAVE OUR SCHOOLS. The name isn't going to change, and it shouldn't. We are the Badass Teacher's Association because we choose to rock the boat, and this name is getting attention. Argue as you will the kind of attention, but attention is attention and we must continue to draw that attention to our cause. No one is forcing you to be a member. If you are not badass, then you should probably move on. No one is forcing you to agree or disagree with any particular stance. Discuss valid solutions to the "dirty trick" reforms and be a part of the change this cause is seeking, or form your own group with your own agenda and candy coat what you wish.

I AM A BADASS TEACHER! I am proud of the title. I was honored to be one of the first invited to this group, and I continue to be pleased with the efforts, discussions, and actions the founders put out there. If you find that you cannot stomach this type of advocacy, then maybe you are not a badass. If your goal is to disrupt this group by throwing us off task through your "disgust" of the name or because you feel your opinion is not valued, then maybe you are a Badapple. If that is the case, you probably do not want to be associated with the likes of the Badasses in this group.

Inspiring Speech By Kisha Algood that Helped Stop the NYC DOE from Closing PS 99 on Manhattan's Upper West Side

.Public School 199 has been catering to the Upper West Side community for several decades. Erected in 1963 it has seen generations of families enter its doors. District 75 caters to the special needs population, this valuable population has been catered by 199 for years. I was blessed to enter this school as a kindergartener. I was a shy, sweet, and supportive little girl that had a disability. When people talk to me, they assume my disability is physical but it isn’t. Socially I struggled making friends but I was persistent in talking to those who would listen. In 4th grade I was diagnosed with a specific learning disability and placed in special education classes. A specific learning disability is a disorder in one or more of the central nervous system processes involved in perceiving, understanding and/or using concepts through verbal language or nonverbal means. In other words my disability impeded my mathematical skills. I had to use a calculator but I always wished that I was able to do math homework without getting frustrated.
I also had occupational and physical therapy. My occupational therapist was Ireta London and my physical therapist was Elizabeth Crawford. I had these sessions on alternative days. When I wasn’t in therapy I had speech. Both these services were instrumental in my success at 199. Then I met an angel that was also a paraprofessional, her name is Nancy Youngman. I met her when I entered the 5th grade. She worked alongside my teacher for a few weeks before moving to a different classroom. She is one of those people who care deeply about the students she takes care of every year. My second angel and mom was Ms. Danielle Cione. Miss Cione was everything to us, and a special inspiration to me. The memories I had in 5-304 will always be in my heart.

Next I entered a school that was a vision in the eyes of an educational leader that would guide, nurture, and support us through our journey. It hurts not to say her name because she is an integral part of my success. The vision was given two floors within the current building that an elementary school resides in. That elementary school is PS 191. These two schools had conflicts in the past due to difference of opinion but they are a prime example of how two schools can work together to educate the future. A side note is that the building was built in 1955 and was a pre-kindergarten to grade two school, and in 2003 became a Pre-K through 8 school. Also known as The Amsterdam School, it serves the families of the neighboring projects. These children deserve a fair and equal education just like everyone else. A known fact is the government is planning on how many more cells to build because they don’t believe that the neighborhood in which the school is located will survive , how sad is that. For the next three years a family formed. From the love and respect we had for our peers to the love and guidance from our teachers, our school soared. Academically and visually I struggled but my teachers had nothing but open arms and encouragement for me. Two angels stepped forward and they are Miss Linda Troncoso and Miss Angelica Moran. These two shining stars taught math as a team. They were two teachers everyone wished they had. We shared in their joy and were there to help when they stumbled. Now these two females are mothers and are happy, and that’s all we wanted for them. I know we didn’t have a lot of money when we started, but money is a means but dedication and heart can’t be bought. Fast Forward 10 years and now they are a Magnet School , reaching above and beyond to educate young minds, This school may mean nothing to educational officials but it means the world to the community it has served for decades

Monday, July 1, 2013

Baddass Teachers Association Unleashes Powers Teachers Already Posses

The success of the Badass Teachers Association is a tribute to the incredible creativity and courage of the thousands of teachers who have joined it. I am blown away by it, but not completely surprised. Because this is the kind of creativity and courage that teachers show every day in their classrooms, in their dealings with individual students, and in the many out of classroom student clubs, and activities they direct

But for the most part, teachers have not shown these traits in fighting to project their voice into the national political arena or influencing education policy. For the most part their actions addressing those in power have been polite, respectful, almost deferential.

But that approach hasn't worked. It has led the Billionaires that fund School Reform, and the elected officials that do their bidding, to feel that teachers can be intimidated, bribed and sweet talked into accepting policies that undermine their power, autonomy, and professional status, and make schools places where students dread to go.

What the Badass Teachers Association has done is put teachers in touch with powers they already possess, that they DISPLAY EVERY DAY on their jobs, and have them project that power into the public arena.

That is a beautiful thing. And something that may yet help turn the nation away from an obsession with standardization and testing that is stifling teaching and learning all cross the country.