Are you a BadAss Teacher?

07.09.13 | Learning on the EDge | 14 Comments

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.

How are American teachers feeling these days? In a word: Angry.
And BadAss followers are not just following this page, they are posting like crazy. Hundreds and hundreds of angry, funny, and irreverent posts and responses every day. Barely anything else is getting through on my Facebook newsfeed!

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.”


About Joan Richardson

JOAN RICHARDSON is editor-in-chief of Phi Delta Kappan magazine.

Comments on Are you a BadAss Teacher?

  1. Rakkasan says:

    Problem is this group is not a very diverse group, and not tolerant of any criticism toward unions, advice, and even ban some teachers who went to certain universities. Being close-minded and banning your supporters is not a good way to start out.

  2. charles says:

    1. Educators pre-K through university from all over America and the world.
    2. Many or most in group DO criticize their own unions, and freely.
    3. Not looking yet for “advice”, prefer to form own opinions and ideas.
    4. Bans no-one on the planet.
    5. Represent all political party affiliations in the U.S.
    6. Standing up for the American public education system before we lose it.
    7. Not all agree, but most are thick-skinned enough to take criticism, opposing points of view, and LEARN.
    8. Pretty hard to get banned from this group! Almost nobody does, in fact.

  3. rose aldaghi says:

    It is a very diverse group, every age group, nationality, interest, background is part of the group.
    All points of view are respected.
    There is no check as to what university one attended, to be part of the group.
    Open minded individuals wanted!
    Rakkasan- you are very much mistaken.

  4. Tiffany says:


    You are definitely WRONG about what you have posted. The group is VERY diverse, made up of teachers, parents and students who come from all over the world. No one checks to see what university you may or may not have attended. Some are critical of their local unions. Some agree with the implementation of Common Core while others do not. There is lots of discussion about many topics concerning education. Any and all open minded people are welcome. If the name is off putting, then you don’t have to join.
    What I have seen since becoming a member a few weeks ago is a group of people who are tired AND fed up with non-educators telling teachers how to be effective in the classroom. When these same “education reformers” decide to actually teach for at least two years to see what really goes on, maybe then will I take seriously what these so called reformers have to say.

  5. Susierw1 says:

    Rakkasan, you are 100% mistaken. The group is great. Overall, members are there for one reason – to improve public education. However, when people violate the group guidelines, which are clearly stated on the BAT page, they are removed from the group. This group is now only a month old, and I am amazed at what we have accomplished. Looking forward to more mobilization and the future for once!

  6. Jan Schmitzer says:

    It isn’t so much that we are angry, it is that we are frustrated. We are frustrated because we are continuously misrepresented in the media, frustrated because we want to do what is best for our nation’s children and are being forced to test, prep to test and have our very livelihood threatened if do not do what is demanded, which we know does not work. We are frustrated because we have been made the scape goat for ills of education when the real demon is poverty and all the social ills associated with it. Frustration manifests itself in many ways, and when it is misunderstood, perhaps it appears to those who do not understand as anger, but it is not. We want what is best for the children and the future of our nation.

  7. Linda says:

    Just spent the last hour in debate with over 100 different teachers from all walks. No one has been banned yet and discussion is still going. Anyone banned was almost definitely banned due to something extreme

  8. Kathleen Knauth says:

    Principals have joined as well. Enough is enough… This year principal’s hours increased by 15 to 20 hours per week buried in a ridiculous evaluation system.

  9. Teresa W. says:

    I don’t think angry is a good description of the group. As a BAT (Badass Teacher) I and many others are frustrated with a political system that does not respect the very people that work in education every day. No other professional group gets treated as if their knowledge and experience is insignificant.

  10. A CT Teacher says:

    Don’t listen to the haters.

    The group is extremely diverse and the discourse is highly critical and intellectual. Trolls are exposed and removed. It’s quite remarkable.

    BAT is a group of 21,000 teachers who are ultimate united by their love of children and not afraid to discuss their differences. It’s pretty amazing what love can do.

  11. crunchymama says:

    When you get 22K people all in one forum, things are bound to get, well, lively. While pretty much everyone there is against the overuse of testing, especially high-stakes testing, the vast differences in perspectives and experiences beyond that commonality have led to some pretty stimulating discussions. Some folks are in favor of the CCSS themselves (as standards), while others want nothing to do with them, and many are in-between; some are 150% against charter schools period, others are charter teachers, and again, many in the middle. Add a liberal dash of posts about teacher-on-teacher and principal-on-teacher bullying and it’s no wonder that 22K people have a LOT to say.

    I came in around 2500-3000 members, I think, and I’ve begun skipping thru the posts looking for the more substantial stuff: articles about corporate influence on education policy, actions the group takes – maybe it didn’t make a difference in Obama’s cabinet, but the White House switchboard knew we were there! – discussions about topics I find interesting and helpful to me. I’m learning a lot that I didn’t know before and I feel I’m better-informed as a teacher and a parent to take on some of these issues than I did before – plus I know that at least 22,000 other BadAss teachers have my back, some in my own school system. I don’t feel alone any more, which is very empowering.

  12. Beverly Koopman says:

    BAT IS democracy at work. Isn’t public education about upholding the principles of democracy, creating an educated citizenry the core purpose of public education? If so, then it is high time that educators begin participating in the conversation about education that will eventually shape the decisions that are made about our profession. Speaking up on FB and in blogs is not only important, it is critical if our voice is going to be considered as future decisions are made. Comment on educational news stories. Write editorials. Blog. Share FB posts and join groups like BadAss Teachers. Add your voice to the grand discussion about public education!

  13. Carole Oddie says:

    I just found out about BAT and feel relieved that it isn’t just me. I am also experiencing a disconnect with these corporate sycophants that perpetrate lies and myths in order to privatize public education.

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