Thursday, December 31, 2015


Cuomo Fails the Children of New York State


The Badass Teachers Association Calls on the U.S. Department of Justice to Investigate Pearson

Governor Christie, We Will Not Turn the Other Cheek!


Disrespecting the American Teacher: 
The Saga Continues in NYC

BATs Respond to Every Student Succeeds Act

Who’s Your Favorite Gadfly? Top 10 Blog Posts (By Me) That Enlightened, Entertained and Enraged in 2015 

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“Pennsylvania educator and public school advocate Steven Singer is one of the most powerful voices in the nation when it comes to speaking out for students, parents, teachers and our public schools.”
Jonathan Pelto, founder of the Education Bloggers Network

“Steven Singer wrote these five terrific posts last year. I didn’t see them when they appeared. Probably you didn’t either. You should.”
Diane Ravitch, education historian

“Your name should be Sweet Steven Singer. You are a delight.”
Karen Lewis, President of the Chicago Teachers Union

Hello. My name is Steven Singer, and I am a gadfly.

I make no apologies for that. It’s what I set out to do when I started this blog in July of 2014.

I told myself that people were too complacent. There was no curiosity. People were too darn sure about things – especially education policy and social issues.

They knew, for instance, that standardized testing was good for children. Why? Because Obama said so. And he’s such a nice man. It’s too bad all those mean Republicans keep making him do all this bad stuff.

They also knew racism was over. After all… Obama! Right? Black President, therefore, the hundreds of years of struggle – finished! Move along. Nothing to see here.

Yet all this “knowledge” went against everything I saw daily as a public school teacher.

Standardized tests are good for children? Tell that to more than half of public school kids now living below the poverty line who don’t have the same resources as middle class or wealthy kids yet are expected to magically ace their assessments. Tell that to the kids who get hives, get sick, or throw up on test day. Tell it to the black and brown students who for some unexplainable reason almost always score lower than their white peers.

Racism is over? Tell that to all my minority students who are afraid to walk home from school because they might get followed, jumped, beaten or killed… by the police! Tell it to their parents who can’t get a home loan and have to move from one rental property to another. Tell it to the advertising executives and marketing gurus who shower my kids with images of successful white people and only represent them as criminals, thugs, athletes or rappers.

So when I started this blog, I consciously set out to piss people off. But with a purpose. To quote the original historical gadfly, Socrates, my role is, “to sting people and whip them into a fury, all in the service of truth.” It seems well suited to a school teacher. After all, Socrates was accused of “corruption of the youth.”

It’s been quite a year. When I went to the Network for Public Education conference in Chicago last April, some folks actually seemed to know who I was. “Don’t you write that Gadfly blog?” was a common question.

When I met NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia and AFT President Randi Weingarten, they both said, “I read your blog.” And then they looked me up and down suspiciously as if they were thinking, “THIS is the guy who writes all that stuff!? THIS is the guy giving me such a hard time!?”

Of course, I am human, too. One can’t sting and bite every day. Sometimes the things I write are met with love and approbation. Some weeks even Lily and Randi like me. Sometimes.

Education historian Diane Ravitch has given me tremendous moral support. I can’t tell you how gratifying it is to have one of your heroes appreciate your work! Her book “The Death and Life of the Great American School System” really woke me up as a new teacher. I’m also on the steering committee of the Badass Teachers Association, an organization that has changed my life for the better. The more than 56,000 people  there are my support. I would never have had the courage to start a blog or do half of the crazy things I do without their love and encouragement.

And there are so many more people I could thank: my fellow bloggers Jonathan Pelto, Peter Greene, Russ Walsh, Nancy Flanagan, Mitchell Robinson, and Yohuru Williams. Also the good people at the LA Progressive and The incredible and tireless radio host Rick Smith.

There are just too many to name. But no list of acknowledgment would be even close to completion without mentioning my most important supporter – you, my readers. Whether you’re one of the 9,190 people who get every new post delivered by email or if you otherwise contribute to the 486,000 hits my site has received so far, THANK YOU.

So in celebration of my first full year of blogging, I present to you an end of the year tradition – a Top 10 list. Out of the 90 posts I wrote in 2015, these are the ones that got the most attention. Often they incensed people into a fury. Sometimes they melted hearts. I just hope – whether you ended up agreeing with me or not – these posts made you think.

Feel free to share with family, friends, co-workers, etc. After all, I’m an equal opportunity gadfly. I always cherish the chance to buzz around a few new heads!

10) The Democrats May Have Just Aligned Themselves With Test and Punish – We Are Doomed






Published: July 17, 2015 

Views: 7,122

Description: It hit me like a slap in the face that almost all Senate Democrats voted to make the reauthorization of the federal law governing K-12 public schools a direct continuation of the same failing policies of the Bush and Obama years. Heroes like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren seemed to be turning their back on teachers, parents and school children. And they were stopped in their efforts by… Republicans!

Fun Fact: This story had some legs. It inspired a bunch of education advocates like myself who are also Bernie Sanders supporters to write the candidate an open letter asking him to explain his vote. His campaign eventually responded that it was about accountability!?

9) Punching Teachers in the Face – New Low in Presidential Politics


Published: Aug. 3, 2015
Views: 14,735

Description: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie thought he’d run for the Republican nomination for President. He thought threatening to metaphorically punch teachers unions in the face would get him votes. It didn’t.

Fun Fact: This new low in Presidential politics came just after Donald Trump had announced he was running. Christie’s new low now seems almost quaint after Trump’s calls to tag all Muslims and monitor their Mosques. How innocent we were back in… August.

8) This Article May Be Illegal – Lifting the Veil of Silence on Standardized Testing


Published: April 18, 2015
Views: 15,818

Description: Teachers and students may be legally restrained from telling you what’s on federally mandated standardized tests, but we’re not restrained from telling you THAT we’re restrained. Is this just protecting intellectual property or direct legal intimidation of educators and children?

Fun Fact: I have not yet been arrested for writing this piece.

7) Stories about Teachers Union Endorsements of Hillary Clinton

Did the AFT Rank and File REALLY Endorse Hillary Clinton for President? If So, Release the Raw Data

(July 12 – 4,448 hits)

The NEA May Be About to Endorse Hillary Clinton Without Input From Majority of Members

(Sept. 21 – 3,873 hits)

A Handful of NEA Leaders Have Taken Another Step Toward Endorsing Hillary Clinton Despite Member Outcry

(Oct. 2 – 739 hits)

Teachers Told They’re Endorsing Hillary Clinton by NEA Leadership, Member Opinions Unnecessary

(Oct. 4 – 7,074 hits)

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Published: July 12 – Oct. 4, 2015
Views: 16,134 TOTAL

Description: You expect your union to have your back. Unfortunately it seems our teachers unions were more interested in telling us who we’d be endorsing than asking us who the organizations representing us should endorse.

Fun Fact: I broke this story pretty much nationwide. News organizations like Politico were calling me to find out the scoop.

6) Why We Should Have ZERO Standardized Tests in Public Schools

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Published: Jan. 30, 2015
Views: 16,443

Description: Someone had to say it. We don’t need any standardized tests. We need teacher-created tests. And that’s not nearly as crazy as some people think.

Fun Fact: This was written back when the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was being rewritten and naïve fools like me thought we might actually get a reduction in high stakes testing. Spoiler alert: we didn’t.

5) Atlanta Teacher RICO Conviction is Blood Sacrifice to the Testocracy


Published: April 3, 2015
Views: 18,187

Description: There is something terribly wrong when we’re using laws created to stop organized crime as a means to convict  teachers cheating on standardized tests. I’m not saying cheating is right, but the mafia kills people. These were just teachers trying to keep their jobs in a system that rewards results and refuses to balance the scales, listen to research or the opinions of anyone not in the pockets of the testing and privatization industries.

Fun Fact: Watching all those seasons of “The Wire” finally came in handy.

4) Not My Daughter – One Dad’s Journey to Protect His Little Girl From Toxic Testing


Published: March 20, 2015
Views: 26,420

Description: How I went to my daughter’s school and demanded she not be subjected to high stakes testing in Kindergarten.

Fun Fact: They were very nice and did everything I asked. If you haven’t already, you should try it!

3) I Am Racist and (If You’re White) You Probably Are, Too

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Published: June 2, 2015
Views: 28,906

Description: White folks often can’t see white privilege. This is my attempt to slap some sense into all of us. If you benefit from the system, you’re responsible to change it.

Fun Fact: Oh! The hate mail! I still get it almost every day! But I regret nothing! A black friend told me I was brave to write this. I disagreed. Anytime I want I can hide behind my complexion. She can’t.

2) I Am A Public School Teacher. Give Me All the Refugees You’ve Got


Published: Nov. 19, 2015
Views: 45,196

Description: Our public schools are already places of refuge for our nation’s school children. Send me more. I’ll take them all. I’d rather they end up in my classroom than drowned by the side of a river.

Fun Fact: I got equal love and hate for this one. Some folks were afraid of terrorists. Others didn’t think we could afford it. But many told me my heart was in the right place. Lily and the folks at the NEA were especially supportive.

1) White People Need to Stop Snickering at Black Names


Published: Sept. 6, 2015
Views: 96,351

Description: Maybe we should stop laughing at black people’s names. Maybe we should try to understand why they are sometimes different.

Fun Fact: You’d have thought I threatened some people’s lives with this one! How dare I suggest people should stop mocking other people’s names! If you want to know how strong white fragility is in our country, read some of the comments! But many people thanked me for bringing up something that had bothered them for years but that they had been too polite to talk about, themselves. This is easily my most popular piece yet.

àBATs Teaceher Congress this summer in D.C. which included 60+ appointments on Capitol Hill 
àBATs filed an Amicus Brief in the Supreme Court for Friedrichs vs. CTA
àBATs Quality of Work Life Team research project with AFT Research is now written into ESSA Section 2301 N of Title II.  This requires Title II money to be used to study school workplace conditions.
à BATs heralded as a prominent educator activist group by Yahoo News this year
àWe appear on The Rick Smith Show every Monday on #BATsRadio, The Jeff Santos Show every Tuesday for #TeacherTuesday,  Just Let Me Teach, and every fourth Thursday of the month of We Act Radio Education Town Hall.  Please head over  to our website and locate the Radio Shows tab for links to these amazing radio stations
àNY BATs helped to organize an Education Justice Conference in NYC.
àThe BAT NEA caucus had amazing accomplishments this summer at NEA RA in Orlando, FL.  Read about it here 
àBATs continue to form and join coalitions around the country that range from education to social justice issues. 
àMany BATs and BATs main twitter feed got blocked by Campbell Brown's Twitter account
àHaving our comments deleted by TFA and then reposting them elsewhere.
àBATs became a 501c4 and restructured so that we can mobilize more quickly both at the national and state levels.
àA successful Fall Fundraising Campaign that raised double what was needed (and funded our Amicus Brief and ad in the Washington Post Express due to come out Jan. 14th)
àCalling out the NEA and AFT for early endorsement of Hillary Clinton without rank and file input
àHosting and presenting on panels all over the country including at NPE in Chicago, TEACH in DC, NYCORE in NYC,  and RootsCamp in DC.
àOutreach – Startup of some new regional groups like Broward BATs and open fan pages like New York BATs Open Facebook page, NJ BATs Open Facebook Page.  BATs also has twitter feeds in every state and will be launching a new surprise in 2016 on social media!

BATs in the News-2015!

BATs Respond to Arne’s Retreat on Testing

How to get 100% Passing Rate on a Test – Backfill

WA BATs Refuse to Test

Tonight I am informing you that I am a conscientious objector to this test

Response to Arne Leaving Office

Four Seattle Teachers Declare: “We Refuse to Give the Tests”

 We Won’t Get Great Teachers By Treating Them Badly

 California Teachers Association Pres. Looks to the Future

Teachers union demands apology from Chris Christie

Can we interest you in Teaching?

Oregon BATs Protest Pearson
Teacher-led protest against Common Core testing picks an unlikely target

FL BATs Protest Jeb Bush
Florida teachers plan to protest Jeb Bush's education summit 

Following 'testocracy uprising,' White House issues call for limits on time taking tests in classrooms
Using the Restroom: A Privilege—If You’re a Teacher

John Kasich's teacher problem

Pauline Liu: New education chief has her hands full – New York

Campaign for America’s Future: We Won’t Get Great Teachers By Treating Them Badly

How The Big New Education Law Could Cut Testing Time

National teachers union wants feds to study stresses of teaching

The Global Search for Education: Teaching in a Global World

Teachers's organization rallies against over-testing – Washington State

The Teachers Unions Savior?

Survey Reveals That America’s Teachers Are Seriously Stressed Out

How The Big New Education Law Could Cut Testing Time

Are Cleveland schools 'manipulative bullies' over test opt-outs? Or just making sure parents are informed?

Arne Duncan’s Departure: Education Reporters Dig In – National

New York Activists Organize a RoboCall for Opting Out

 Broward BATs - Badass Teachers Association' fed up with teaching to the test

Parents fight back against PARCC testing by opting out in Ohio


For Every Nonprofit: A Labor Day Agenda and Challenge - National

Badass Teachers Association Opposes Common Core - Arizona

Jeb Bush to raise money, discuss education in Tallahassee

Why education activists are furious at ExxonMobil’s CEO

BATs Year in Pictures and Memes - 2015

Our top shared meme for 2015 was created by BAT Meme Team Co-Director Sue Goncarovs. With over 2 million people reached it spreads the message loud and clear - our children are NOT standard!

TN BATs lead and strengthen the union in Shelby County!

WA BATs Becca Ritchie gives Bernie Sanders a BAT Handshake

BATs around the nation joined a 1 day hunger strike to support the Dyett 12

BATs Represent at United Opt Out Conference in Ft. Lauderdale, FL 

OHIO BATs Protest Kasich bid for President!

NY BAT Michael Flanagan addresses Educational Justice Conference in NYC

NV BATs take to the Las Vegas strip for a fair contract and public education 

FL BAT Trudy Jermanovich testifies before her BOE

FL BATs protest Jeb Bush Education Summit



Oregon BAT Kathleen Jeskey stands before her BOE as a conscientious objector to testing!

WA BATs Refuse to Test

Oregon and WA BATs lead a protest of Pearson in Oregon

Ohio BATs Protest Kasich Presidential Announcement

NY BATs Protest NY Gov. Cuomo at the NY State Fair

Ohio BATs Gather and Organize for Education 

NV BATs take to the Las Vegas Strip to fight for Education 

BATS Occupy Bernie Sanders Office!

BATs Teacher Congress - Summer 2015

BATs March on DC with Jesse Turner, who walked 400 miles for
kids and education 

MN BATs take to Capitol Hill!

BATs Occupy Bernie Sanders Office to get an appointment or discussion with him.  His education adviser did call BATs Executive Director Marla Kilfoyle after this occupation! 

Hawaii BATs take to Capitol Hill

California BATs take to Capitol Hill

Oregon BATs take to Capitol Hill

Ohio BATs take Capital Hill!

Ohio BATs storm Capital Hill

BATs met with Lamar Alexander's Office

BATs storm Capitol Hill

BATs Quality of Work Life Team meets with the USDOE

Tennessee BATs represent in DC

Marching the last mile with Jesse Turner in DC

BATs Occupy Bernie Sanders Office

Virginia BATs represent in DC

Our Amazing BAT Band performed! 

Youth Dreamers give us all hope

United Opt Out gives an amazing book talk

NY BATs March in DC