Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Red Lion <3 Wear Red for Ed

written by Karen Wolfe, a member of the BAT Leadership Team

The Red Lion Hotel in Pasco, Washington got more attention last week than, well, maybe ever. 

Michael Peña, a Washington teacher, posted on the Badass Teachers Association (BATs) Facebook page an account of Washington State teachers conducting rolling walkouts in protest of the legislature’s consistent underfunding of public schools. They wore “Red for Ed” as a sign of solidarity and support for public education. After a protest on May 8, a group of teachers in Pasco, Washington went into the Red Lion Hotel for a drink in the bar. A local county Republican group was holding an event and a legislator was in attendance who has not supported teachers. 

Peña said that the Red Lion management asked the teachers to either remove their red shirts or leave. They left. But that was far from the end of it. 

“It's time to reclaim the dialogue,” Peña concluded. “We will not be treated this way any longer without a strong, unified response.”

Within hours, the Red Lion—and anyone reading its Facebook page--was hearing from teachers and public education advocates from all over the country.
One teacher, John Elyard, posted, “I have taught for 26 years. I have worked hard to educate the youth of America. Treat teachers with respect.”

Another post from Donna Yates Mace, a national coordinator of Wear Red for Ed, read “Just don't ‪#‎WearRed‬...teachers will be asked to leave.”

Three days later, the General Manager of the Red Lion posted this apology:

“I am truly saddened to have offended our guests on Friday night at our hotel and, as a result, teachers in general. I personally am a strong advocate for early childhood education and have the highest respect for this profession, as my mother is an educator, and my daughter would not be who she is today without the special support of the wonderful teachers who worked closely with us through the years. While my intention was to prevent any potential conflict from occurring between our guests, instead I offended a group for whom I have the utmost respect. For that I offer my sincere apology. Although I cannot change the initial outcome of this situation, I can learn from it and make an effort to set it right. I will be working with the local teachers to host a Teachers Appreciation event where I can apologize in person. In the meantime, should you have any questions, feel free to contact me directly at the hotel. - Monica Hammerberg, General Manager”.

Within minutes, the apology was shared widely and was well received by many on BATs’ 55,000 member Facebook page. Now the Red Lion's page includes many postings expressing gratitude for the change of heart.

April Miller posted, “I was one in attendance on Friday night and I appreciate your apology and your willingness to try and make this right. I will pass this on to the rest of the group if they don't know already.”

Michelle Murphy Ramey posted, “Thank you for your apology. -WA BAT admin and dedicated teacher who loves wearing red.” 

“This is a great outcome,” said BATs General Manager Marla Kilfoyle, a New York teacher. “The public has been fed a story that teachers are bad, but if we can help them stop and reflect, most people remember how valuable teachers are. We're happy to teach that.”

1 comment:

  1. Can somebody please share the circumstances of these teachers being asked to leave? Were they holding up signs outside the hotel or chanting? I'm very curious. Glad we got the apology!


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