Wednesday, March 18, 2015

BATS and BTC- A Short Overview

I helped start BATs, along with several other people, to build on the amazing energy of the NY test revolt in the spring of 2013 which featured alliances across the political spectrum that I had never experienced before. I had started a Badass Parents Association with a libertarian named Michael Bohr and it grew pretty quickly so some of us decided to start a Badass Teachers Association, but none of us were prepared for the amazing response that group generated! It was like a firestorm

There were no goals for BATs in the beginning other than protesting Common Core and excessive testing and giving teachers a loud powerful voice. We made the rest up as we went along

The group grew at the rate of almost 1000 new members a week for the first few months because teachers were enraged and felt they had been abandoned and betrayed by both political parties. And there were people with me in the leadership who figured out a structure to build on the amazing energy, a combination of theme groups(issue groups) and state groups.  Members chose what issues to concentrate on based on both interest and location. It was a great structure that I had little to do with creating. I was the most visible public figure so to some people I became the face of BATs, but I was not running the organization

In terms of accomplishments, BATs let a whole lot of elected officials and people shaping education policy know that teachers are furious and are going to demand a voice.The group also has shaken up the teachers unions and made them more militant.

Finally, BATs has  helped expand the power and influence of the opt out movement and helped elect pro-public education candidates to important offices.

 As for my departure from the group, there was and probably still is some resentment toward  me for leaving BATs, but the group is doing fine without me because the people who created the structure that allowed BATs to grow are still there

As for BTC it was necessary to create the group after the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner to provide a space for teachers to conduct a frank discussion of racism and white supremacy that could not easily be done in a group as heavily monitored as BATs is.

BTC is not an organizational alternative to BATs-- it is a free space where teachers of color and allies can have no holds barred discussion of race in America in all its dimensions, even when education policy is not the main focus. Some of the people in BTC are still in BATs; others left; others were never in it at all.

BTC plays a vital role as a free  space for discussions of race and politics; BATs still plays a vital role as a  teachers activist group. They can and will continue to coexist