The Minions that Run BATs
By Marla Kilfoyle, General Manager of BATs
Melissa Tomlinson, Asst. General Manager of BATs
Recently, in a contentious thread on BATs, we were referred to as minions, and in another thread a few weeks back, we were referred to as “womenfolk.” In both of those threads there seemed to be some insinuation that Mark Naison ran BATs on a day to day basis. We assure you he does many wonderful things for BATs, one of them being he Co-founded the page with Priscilla, but we can reassure you HE does not run BATs on a day to day basis. We know this because we do. Now the definition of a minion is : a follower or underling of a powerful person, esp. a servile or unimportant one. After reading this definition we decided it was time for folks to understand who really runs BATs on a day-to-day basis . Mark and Priscilla started the page but rest assured, teachers run the day-to-day operation of BATs, and teacher/parent voices drive the BATs agenda.
Marla Kilfoyle, General Manager of BATs
I have been teaching for 28 years. I still teach a full schedule (5 periods a day). I am a high school/middle school teacher and I am also the advisor for National Honor Society (115 members). I was elected the General Manager of BATs on June 16th by 29 of the 30 administrators. I haven’t taken a day off since that date. I work on the infrastructure of BATs 6 hours a day, 7 days a week. I do this because I have to. I do this because I know too much. I have never taken a dime from anyone for the work I do or the places I speak. I do it for free because I have to. I wake up at 5:00 a.m. every day to work on BATs before I go to school. When I wake up I check my personal email, my Facebook messages, the twitter messages, and the BATs Gmail accounts. In total, I have, on a busy day, over 50 messages to return and answer. Most of these messages are thanking BATs, some are hateful, and some ask BATs for help. The ones that ask BATs for help I put on our calendar rotation and run it by Melissa and our amazing administration group. I spend about 45 minutes doing that and then I check on our closed Facebook group, open Facebook group, YouTube account, website, blog, Pinterest, and twitter accounts to make sure it is all up and running. If there are any issues I email the amazing people who volunteer to run those sites for us. I get ready and head to school. From 11:50-12:20, my lunch hour (if time allows), I check into BATs Administration to make sure everything is OK. I answer messages and have, on several occasions, done radio or newspaper interviews on my lunch hour. I may also need to write something for BATs or make a video, a meme for a project, return phone calls, or rundown the permits for DC. When lunch is over, I hop offline, and end my teaching day. I get home at 4:00 (if I don’t have a union meeting because I am also an elected rep), visit with my family, make dinner, help with my son’s homework, hug him and kiss him, open mail, and I hop back on BATs around 7:00 p.m, that is if I don’t have a speaking engagement to go to. There are some weeks that I may speak twice a week with other activists in my local area. I work on BATs usually until 12:00-1:00 a.m. What do I do? I may write our monthly newsletter that goes out to our website members, I moderate the Page, I update our blog with pieces of writing sent to us, I answer PM’s from people, I recruit new moderators for our big page or our state pages, I go to state pages to help them work out issues or with anything they need, I run our twitter account (which has 8000 followers) as well, Melissa and I PM back and forth about anything we are working on for BATs (she is the creative one), I work on the DC March and right now am trying to get a committee together to steer the event, most nights I research and create the meme’s for our daily actions/events. I research links BATs can email, Facebook, tweet, or call. On Friday’s, I send to our Media Team a piece of BAT writing to be blasted via email to every newspaper and news program outlet in all the capital cities of this nation. I am lucky to have a great team established, who volunteer, to send these emails out so that we can spread the word and educate folks about what is REALLY happening in education. Saturday, is house cleaning. I tidy up any lose ends from the week, make phone calls to media outlets, politicians, or other activists we are working with. I touch base with the store that runs our t-shirt operation. I clean out our files and check in with the state pages and our administration group. I take more and more requests from states asking for help and put them on the calendar. I read lots of stories people send me that are heartbreaking and uplifting. I check in with the BATs Information Team, who also volunteer every day, to rotate BAT info on the Facebook page and Twitter Feed. I update that information if need be. I spend lots of time in PM’s with Melissa working out organizational stuff, sharing info we have gotten from our state sites, and from members, and making sure the information BATs give to us is infused in some way into the BATs week. Sunday, is pretty much the same as Saturday and that is the day Melissa and I make up the weekly calendar – all based on what BATs sends us. In total, on weekends, I work on BATs for about 6 hours each day. Then Monday comes and I start all over again. I do it because I have to and I do it to honor all the amazing kids, families, and teachers who deserve great public education.
|Melissa, Priscilla, and Marla|
Melissa Tomlinson, Assistant Manager of BATs
I joined BATs in June, made an administrator of the New Jersy BATs in July, joined the national administrators in August, and was promoted to Assistant Manager in December. I consider BATs to be another full-time job, with the reward of doing something to help students, teachers, parents, and public education. I feel that public education is the main way our society can invest in the improvement of our future generations. My volunteering for BATs is my way of contributing to this investment.
Currently I teach in a Middle School Math Resource Room with a class each of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. This is my thirteenth year in education. Additionally, I am the building site supervisor for our after school program, working almost every night until at least 6:30 pm. On the weekends, I work in the food and beverage department of a country club.
During the week I get up between 4:30 and 5 am. As I drink my morning coffee I check the admin groups, the state admin groups, the different fan pages, and the NJ BAT group. I scroll through the main group and my news feed looking for posts to share containing information that people should know as well as any outstanding posts and inspirational stories. Then I do the same thing with four different Twitter accounts. Messages from members, other teachers, other activists are checked in different email accounts as well as two Facebook accounts and responses are sent. The sense of urgency in most of these are overwhelming. When I first started doing this, I ended up in tears most nights as I continuously dealt with requests for help from teachers that were being devastated by those in charge of a profession that they have dedicated their lives to. Everyone deserves to be heard, and everyone deserves a response to their messages because they felt it was important enough to reach out. With a 40 minute commute to work, I rush to get ready and get to school. During my lunch I usually leave the building, get a coffee and sit in my car to do a quick check of groups, messages, and twitter. I have done radio and television interviews, written press releases as well as legislators, petitions, and blog posts. Getting home somewhere between 8 and 9 pm on a normal night, I feed my youngest teenager a second dinner, and start the morning process all over again. Some nights I run later than that, being involved in and speaking at different meetings. Weekends, when I am not at work, you will find me in front of the computer from morning to night, checking groups, planning actions, reading ideas, writing legislators, organizing files, having meetings on Skype, and spending time having conversations with different teachers listening to what is really going on in education. Between BATs and school work, I am on the computer each day between 5 and 14 hours. Daily, wherever I go, whenever I have the opportunity, I am speaking about BATs to parents, teachers, and even administration.
Why do I do this? BATs has become very important to me, not just as a vehicle to fight corporate educational reform, but also as a vehicle that gives me a purpose and gives me the opportunity to change our future.
We are honored to run the day to day operations of BATs. We are beyond grateful that two people, who are not public school educators, started the BATs group. We are grateful that both Mark and Priscilla continue to fight and advocate for every single teacher and child. We are grateful for, and deeply respect, Mark’s 45 years of experience in academia and in activism. We are grateful for Priscilla’s devotion to making sure that BATs is a place that doesn’t bash teachers, students, or parents. We are grateful to the over 50 people that moderate the page 24/7, but rest assured, BATs is operated, day to day, by teachers! We are BAT and We are Legion.