School & District Management Opinion

Badass Teachers Association Shows a New Spirit of Defiance

By Anthony Cody — June 20, 2013 1 min read
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Some teachers finally seem to have had enough, and they are letting the world know it.

A closed group on Facebook called the Badass Teachers Association has added more than a thousand members a day since its launch less than a week ago, rapidly approaching the 8000 mark, showing no sign of letting up.

Mark Naison, a professor of African American studies at Fordham University in New York, founded the group with the help of two activists, Priscilla Sanstead and Marla Massey Kilfoyle. Sanstead is a parent activist in Oklahoma, and Kilfoyle is a teacher and parent who has been active in the Long Island Opt Out group.

Naison provided this definition of “badassness” on his blog yesterday:

Badass Teachers teach, love and nurture children everyone has given up on, in good times and bad, children with disabilities, children who have been kicked out of their families, children who can't sit still, children who have seen unimaginable horrors, children who are homeless, children who are under constant stress, along with children who have happy lives, and happy families. They teach and love them all, and protect and defend them from physical threats and the threat of tests and assessments which humiliate them and destroy their love of learning.
Badass Teachers stayed in the nation's toughest neighborhoods when everyone else left, amidst drug epidemics and drive by shootings, factory closing and fires, turning schools and their classrooms into refuges and place of hope, only to see themselves attacked for failing to reduce the "achievement gap" by people who were in fancy colleges while they went to work every day, and then watching the same people close the schools they had devoted their lives to making work.
Badass Teachers protect their students every day, even at the risk of their own lives, and in Columbine and Newtown made the ultimate sacrifice, drawing upon their deep sense of mission and a love supreme. These heroic teachers stand as symbols of tens of thousands of teachers throughout the nation who have disarmed students, broken up fights, stopped gang wars from breaking our, put themselves in harms way in riots and brawls. This is the Badass ethos. This is what is REALLY means to put students first.

The group already has a Twitter account, @BadassTeachersA, and is working on a website.

Sanstead said, “It’s like we opened a fire hydrant! Some of the posts are heart-breaking, some enlightening, and the relief is palpable that there is someone listening to them. Such nice things teachers are saying!”

There has been some discussion of the “appropriateness” of the group’s name, but clearly the defiant and confrontational stance is part of the appeal. Becca Ritchie, a teacher in the state of Washington, created an image for the group, which some have already had printed on t-shirts.

So far the group has had lots of lively discussions about all sorts of issues facing classroom teachers, but no particular action plans have emerged as yet. If it continues to expand at this pace, perhaps we can rewrite the stereotype of the teacher as docile rule-follower.

What do you think? Are you ready to sign up for the Badass Teachers Association?

Continue the dialogue with Anthony on Twitter.

Image by Becca Ritchie, used with permission.

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