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