The Badass Teachers Association formed only last week and already has 16,000+ members and counting. That is certainly deserving of a blog post.
First off, I have to say that I think the name is brilliant. Who wouldn’t want to be part of a movement that recognizes members as Badass Teachers? It catches the eye but also captures the sentiment behind the movement. These are teachers who believe that their students deserve a say in their education. These are educators who are seen by their students as “badass,” an evaluation that can’t be made by any standardized test. These teachers are superheroes: they teach students by day and fight corporate reformers by night. Indeed, they are badass.
On Monday, with only two days of existence under its belt, the Badass Teachers Association declared its first call to action: the BTA launched a campaign in which educators demanded that President Obama replace Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education. Within 24 hours, over 1,500 members had called the White House and asked Obama to replace Duncan with a lifetime educator, someone who could understand the struggles that teachers face. In addition, they outdid the calling campaign, furiously tweeting and retweeting support for @BadassTeachersA and starting a petition to build on the momentum of the call-in campaign. So far, the petition has gained over 1,000 signatures towards its goal of 100,000. I highly recommend that everyone take a moment to sign it, every name counts!
The only real problem I see with the success of the Badass Teachers is the practicality of their request. Is it really realistic to expect Obama to replace Duncan based on a one-day-long social media campaign? Probably not. I’m not sure that anything could convince Obama to replace Duncan, firstly because Duncan is an old friend and secondly because he is a second-term presidency. But it’s worth a shot, for sure. The movement would probably gain more traction if badass teachers wrote a substantial piece about why Duncan must be removed or even held a strike for the cause (though of course that’s not really possible in the summertime).
However, this isn’t to say that I have no hope that the Badass Teachers movement can effect change. In fact, I believe that the education reform community has been awaiting something like the BTA for a while, an organization that has the power to bring frustrated and energetic educators from all over the country together to express their indignation as a whole. I think that Badass Teachers can ultimately join their voices together to successfully protest budget cuts, craft legislation, and claim a role for itself in education policy decisions. In short, I think and hope that the Badass Teachers can go on to be what they were meant to be–badass.