THE BATs TEACHER CONGRESS – SUMMARY OF AN EVENT
In the summer of 2014 Dr. Yohuru Williams looked at Arne Duncan in the face and said, “Mr. Secretary, you need to meet with teachers once a year in a Teacher Congress so that you know what is happening in America’s schools.” So, the BATs Teacher Congress was born – an idea from a visionary who knew that teacher voices needed to be heard. Dr. Williams recognized that educators would steer education in the right direction and restore public education to its original purpose, for the children.
Here is a video filled with highlight pictures of our 3 day event! https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=r9CKBZuFOz0&feature=youtu.be
Our hashtag #BATCon2015 trended the entire day
Our hashtag #BATCon2015 trended the entire day
Thursday 7/23 and Friday 7/24 – BATs Lobby Capitol Hill Day #1 and Day #2
Prior to our two lobbying days, Washington BATs got us off to a great start by participating in a “Coffee with Constituents” session with Sen. Patty Murray. This group led the charge and let the legislators know that the Badass Teachers Association had descended upon “The Hill”. Over the course of the next two days, BATs from 20 states conducted over 61 appointments with their Federal Lawmakers. BATs shuffled from the House building to the Senate building over the course of these two days. Appointments started at 8 a.m. and lasted until 5 p.m. There will be a blog coming soon that will summarize these appointments. This was a copy of our lobby sheet that addressed national issues and the various state delegations filled in issues germane to their state.
|Hawaii BAT Mireille Ellsworth on Capitol Hill|
On Friday Sen. Bernie Sanders education legislative assistant, David Cohen, called Marla Kilfoyle, BATs General Manager after a team of BATs occupied Sen. Sanders office that very morning. NY BAT Katherine Brezler also phoned Sen. Sanders office to facilitate a meeting. Mr. Cohen stayed on the phone with Marla Kilfoyle for approximately 40 minutes. “It was nice of David to call but we are disappointed that our request for a meeting with Sen. Sanders was ignored for up to 6 months”, Kilfoyle said. BATs had utilized all the proper channels to secure a meeting with Sen. Sanders but were, unfortunately, ignored after several attempts to speak with someone in his office. A BAT Team hearing that Sen. Sanders office had ignored requests for a meeting, jumped into cabs and headed to the Senate building where they occupied his office. WA BAT Becca Ritchie, who led the Occupy Team, said, “We were concerned that our calls were not returned after we were told they would be, so we took matters into our own hands.” The team left after being told that they would try to secure a Monday meeting and left some BAT literature upon their departure. “The phone call with David was a nice gesture. We spoke about funding equity, vouchers, charters, standardized testing, attack on our urban schools and communities of color, push out of our veteran teachers and teachers of color, and the push to privatize public education,” said Marla Kilfoyle. “My hope is that we now have an open communication to share our concerns and issues with Sen. Sanders as he heads into the Democratic Primary,” Kilfoyle continued. Time will tell.
|BATs Occupy Bernie Sanders Office Team|
Friday 7/24 – Jesse Turner Makes it to DC
On Friday at 2 p.m. BATs, SOS, and UOO members met on the patio of the Holiday Inn to make our signs to meet Jesse Turner at Union Station. Jesse had spent 40 days walking 400 miles for children, public education, and social justice. At 3 p.m. a group of approximately 50 people began to walk the 1.2 miles from the Holiday Inn to Union Station. This walk took us past the National Mall and The Capitol. When we arrived at Union Station we were joined by others and our group of 50 doubled in size. We left Union Station at 3:45 to walk to the USDOE (what Jesse calls the “House of Pain”) to call out Arne Duncan. The 25 minute walk was filled with singing, chanting, and cheering as cars beeped in support.
Jesse gave an amazing speech and we were all inspired to fight for children, public education, and social justice.
Concurrently with this event, the BAT Quality of Work Life Team was meeting with the USDOE to discuss what the federal office needed to do on their end to bring attention and help remedy the systematic intimidation, bullying, and push out of teachers across this county. The team will be reporting about this meeting in a separate piece to follow soon.
|BATs Quality of Workplace Team w/ AFT Support Team|
Friday 7/24/15 SOS Sponsored a Mock Trial of Corporate Education Reform
On Friday evening SOS, in coalition with UOO and BATs, sponsored a Mock Trial of Arne Duncan, Rahm Emanuel, Campbell Brown, and Eli Broad. Thank you to the amazing Thomas Byrd for acting as our judge, Dr. Denisha Jones for her portrayal of the prosecuting attorney, and Becca Ritchie for acting as the defense attorney. You can catch the livestream here, but in case you don’t have time to watch, all of them were found GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY.
You can watch the entire trial here: http://educationtownhall.org/2015/07/24/mock-trial-live-stream/
Starting at 8:00 a.m. BATs, SOS, and UOO members from around the nation checked in and had breakfast. Over 150 warriors for public education started the day with an Arts in Activism presentation by the BATs Meme Team and a reading of the BATs Declaration for Great Schools. Dr. Yohuru Williams opened the Congress with an amazing speech centered on beaming up, via Star Trek style, all the “deformers” that seek to close our schools and privatize our public education system (look for his entire speech on our blog very soon). Jesse Turner followed with a rousing speech that had many reliving his walk for children. The Youth Dreamers from Baltimore, an amazing group of young people, told their story of how they built, from the ground up, a youth center. You can read their story here and we highly recommend you bring them to your town. Please consider donating to their cause http://www.youthdreamers.org/
Dr. Denisha Jones sent us into lunch with a powerful seminar on Cultural Competence. Her powerful presentation was filled with a toolkit for teachers to use and share when they return back to their communities. Please contact her if you wish her to come give this amazing seminar in your town (hint hint – ask your union to sponsor it)!
Morna McDermot sent us into our work for the afternoon with a moving presentation that was based around the word “hegemony.” BATs value and honor their partnership with United Opt Out and are so grateful that Ruth, Morna, Denisha, and Ceresta came to spend the day with us. Their participation was invaluable and we thank them so much. Here is perhaps the most powerful quote from Morna:
After Morna’s presentation the real work began. BATs, UOO, and SOS spent over 2 hours working through the Congress topics: Union Strong, Spaces for Dissenting Voices, School to Prison Pipeline, Preserving Participatory Democracy, English Language Learners, and Special Education. The first hour was a Gallery Walk where event attendees took five post its and posted their thoughts/ides/research on each topic (5 stations were set up). After an hour of visiting each station, there was a sharing session. Attendees and facilitators spoke about their topics, offered important connections, and provided a framework for the future of BATs in regard to these topics. We will be compiling all these ideas, as well as ideas we collected from our Facebook members. We are weaving them into a toolkit that members can access off our website. These “resolutions” will be available at the beginning of September for BATs and anyone else to use for BOE meetings, meetings with lawmakers, or for PDP’s. After our resolution discussion the amazing BATs Quality of Workplace Team ended the BAT agenda for the day. The team, led by Jamy Brice-Hyde, spoke about their meeting with the USDOE. We were honored to have Jessica Smith from the AFT join us for the day. Jessica has been involved with the Quality of Workplace study since day one. She has been a tremendous support to our team and to BATs. Thank you to Wilma DeSoto, Sandy Goodwick, Keith Bryson, Kathy Berry, and Jamy Brice Hyde (also to members of this team who must remain anonymous).
Bob George of Save Our Schools March made an appeal to the audience for Dyett HS. The Chicago Board of Education voted to phase out Dyett in 2012. The high school was slated to close after its last senior class graduates at the end of the current academic year. Upon the school's closing, Bronzeville will no longer have an open-enrollment, neighborhood high school that is not a contracted, charter or Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) turnaround school. You can go here to learn more about Dyett HS http://www.progressillinois.com/quick-hits/content/2015/02/03/chicago-education-activists-keep-pressure-ald-burns-over-dyett-high-0
United Opt Out ended the day with a book talk over their incredible book An Activist Handbook for the Education Revolution which you can order here: http://www.infoagepub.com/products/An-Activist-Handbook-for-the-Education-Revolution
BATs want to thank UOO and SOS, once again for this amazing partnership!
Saturday 7/25/15 BAT Social
From 6-9 p.m. BATs had their social to celebrate our amazing 3 days together. The BAT Band, A Class Act, rocked the house.
A former teacher from North Carolina Lindsay Furst treated BATs to her spoken word poetry piece called The Power to Save Public School.
After Lindsay’s amazing performance NY BAT Jeremy Dudley took the stage to sing several songs from his CD – here is his famous video “Stop this Madness” (check out the BAT references) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVPeTZDYTco
Ending the night was Karen Sklaire, a NYC Drama Teacher who has an amazing one woman show called Ripple of Hope: One Teachers Journey to Make an Impact. A young idealist from Connecticut, inspired by teacher-as-hero movies, begins her career teaching drama in the South Bronx. In this autobiographical solo show, Karen navigates her way through the troubled NYC school system as she struggles to engage her challenging students with everything from ‘gangsta’ improvs to a rap version of ‘Annie’. Her dedication to her students and her desire to make a difference impels her to find a way to please an ever- changing administration in order to keep her job. She will soon realize that in a world of budget cuts, rubber rooms, and the common core the question is not “what’s wrong with me?” but, rather, “what’s wrong with this system?” You can catch her show coming back to NYC here http://www.rippleofhopeshow.com/
Lastly, enjoy the Rick Smith Show Interviews of various BATs, SOS, and UOO members. Thank you to Rick for traveling down and joining us to spread the word. Please support Ricks show and listen in.
We hope that you will join BATs in 2016 when we return back to DC for a protest rally. Details will be forthcoming and………..a possible visit to the west coast in 2017 – could there be a BATs Storm Seattle 2017? We shall see! Until that time, keep fighting for our children, our schools, and for social justice. Why? That’s what BATs do!