Wednesday, July 3, 2013

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.


1 comment:

James Boutin said...

Opting out of testing, refusing to administer tests, speaking with emotion at board or council meetings, calling politicians our for lies and racism, being arrested for protesting are all great examples of confrontation.

None of them require that you call yourself Badass.

Use Badass if you want. I'll support the group and its actions, but not the name.

The issues you raise here are about action, and we agree there.

There is a difference between effective political action and managing an effective political image.