By Joan Richardson
Want to know how American teachers are feeling these days? Judging from the new BadAss Teachers page on Facebook, the answer is angry.
Started by three individuals who know each other only through Facebook, the BadAss Teachers page started at 4:45 pm on Friday, June 14. In an hour, BAT had 1,000 members and has been gaining about 1,000 members every day since then. At last count, more than 21,000 Facebookers were following the page. The activity has become so rapid that the site now has 49 administrators just to keep up with new requests to join the group.
The rapid success of BadAss Teachers is “a sign that the people on the ground are not happy,” said Fordham University professor Mark Naison, part of the trio that launched BadAss.
And, what specifically are they not happy about? School closures in Chicago. Massive layoffs in Philadelphia. Union leaders who listen more to billionaires than the people the unions represent. Democrats who have fallen in line with conservative education reform plans. Excessive testing and evaluations based on student test scores. States undermining teachers’ bargaining rights and pensions. Being labeled as bad, bad, bad, bad, bad for everything that goes wrong in a school.
Followers are also responding to requests for action. A few Mondays ago, BadAss rallied followers to blitz call the NEA to encourage its leaders not to support the Common Core; on another, they called the U.S. Department of Education to urge Arne Duncan to defend Philadelphia schools. On Monday, Bill Gates was on the receiving end of phone calls and emails from BadAss teachers. The page has also spawned meet-ups around the country and local BadAss affiliates which are planning bigger events.
Fordham University professor Mark Naison who helped found the group said Americans teachers are just fed up. “Teachers feel like they’re being demonized. They’re feeling embattled and unfairly attacked. They’re being blamed for problems that are caused by poverty and inequality in society. No one was defending them!” Naison said.
“Teachers felt that they had tried to be reasonable. We’ve tried to explain that these reforms are undermining teaching and learning but no one will listen,” Naison said.
“So, maybe it’s time to get in their face to show that enough is enough.”