Badass Teachers Soar To New Level Of Resistance

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Above photo: Teachers rally in Los Angeles, May, 2011.

Why the Badass Teachers Association Has Taken Off

Monday, June 17, 2013

Over the last few years, I have founded or helped found several Facebook groups engaged in education activism and protests against corporate control of public education and the test driven policies it has inspired. I helped create “Dump Duncan” and “Occupy Teach for America,” the first two years ago, the second six months ago and each have been dynamic and successful in promoting conversation and activism.

But nothing can compare to what has happened with a group I helped found with an activist from the midwest, Priscilla Sanstead, called “The Badass Teachers Association.” Within one day, the group had grown to about 270 members, and then, through a recruiting contest we organized on the recommendation of a Long Island teacher, Marla Massey Kilfoyle, shot up to over 1,500 members between 4 PM and midnight on Sunday!

The surge of energy that accompanied this meteoric rise in membership is like nothing I had experienced before in Facebook activism. And it requires some explanation. What did a group with a half-humorous, and extremely provocative name, create such excitement among teachers all over the nation.

The key may lie in the statement we wrote describing our reason for creating the group.

“This is for every teacher who refuses to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality, and refuses to accept assessments, tests and evaluations imposed by those who have contempt for real teaching and learning”

At a time when high stakes testing and attacks on teacher autonomy have become official policy of both major parties, supported by the wealthiest people in the nation, and cheered on by the media, teachers may have reached a tipping point regarding the campaign of demonization directed against them, and the micromanagement of their classroom lives, especially because leaders of teachers unions- who have accepted funds from groups like the Gates Foundation who support test driven teacher evaluation- have not fought back effectively against these efforts.

Never have teachers felt more embattled, and never have they felt more alone. Many are contemplating retirement, more are under doctors care for stress and anxiety, all fear retaliation for speaking their mind about what is happening in their districts, their schools, and their classrooms.

Now all of a sudden, a group appears, which symbolically and metaphorically, allows teachers to say “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!

In terms of what policies or organizing strategies will emerge from this group, only time will tell. But it is significant that there are clearly thousands of teachers in this country who are fed up with polite, respectful appeals to policy makers who hold them in contempt and are ready to fight fire with fire.

In claiming the label “Badass” with pride, they are announcing a new spirit of resistance, which combined with similar movements among students and parents, could end up giving Corporate School Reformers much more than they bargained for.

  • Jamie Delaney

    The BATs have changed my life and so many others! We are not 27 THOUSAND teacher and advocates strong- in just 4 short months! Clearly, our public school teachers are in desperate need of a movement! And we are moving and shaking daily, with actions that include papering school parking lots with Opt-Out High StakesTesting notices; Bombing FB Pages and Websites of the corporate deform monsters (eg. Michelle Rhee, Arne Duncan); Protesting the ALEC convention (where one of our own was tackled to the ground); creating mock paradox websites (see and YouTube); creating secret BAT sub- groups); so much more! Most especially meaningful is that BATS share info on the main (closed) page by the minute, 24/7. BATS can tell you what current war is happening in virtually every state in the nation! We have our targets and we know what we must get done! Find our closed group at and request to join us if you care as much as we do about stopping the corporate takeover of our public schools and students!

  • Right, left, and center converge, to say, “Enough, already! The education system is not failing, it is the ‘legislators’ who are failing public education!”

    From blindly stripping resources to turning over schools to those just looking to make a dime, and then telling everyone that a new system, which has never been tested, nor peer-reviewed, is the answer – the public is being sold a load of trash.

    Go, join the BATs, United Opt Out, and the Network for Public Education, today!

  • Jamie D.

    Nichalas- Can you believe what Chicago, Philly, St Louis teachers are going through? This morning’s BAT post about the Chicago teacher taken by ambulance yesterday because classrooms reached 109 degrees?! It’s like we’re back in the early 20th century again, with students in tow…. This is criminal activity we’re talking about! WAKE UP AMERICA!

  • So proud you published his. So many people think that opposition to Corporate School Reform- and its latest profit making scheme, the Common Core Standards- comes only from the Right. But the rise of the BATS- which is teacher coalition that cuts across the political spectrum- shows there is huge and growing opposition to the privatization of public education coming from the left as well. The Badass Teachers Association is not only a direct result of the national test revolt led by United Opt Out, it also owes a debt to Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy movements across the country who united leftists and libertarians against the collusion of government and large corporations in eroding our liberties as well as concentrating wealth in the hands of the few. BATS is a resistance movement of teachers who are tired of being scripted and abused by the Billionaires who now control both major parties. And the best is yet to come!!!

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  • cwanderson

    It is so encouraging to see that teachers are standing up for themselves against this incessant marginalizing of students and teachers alike. What has been going on is criminal. No less criminal has been the continued assault and battery against our self government. Seeing other people –citizens — reacting aginst this evil tide is so empowering, and we have only just begun. Thank you Popular Resistence for spreading this information, you are a vital link to the people!