Sunday, December 13, 2015

BATs 2015   A Great Year for Pollyanna BAT

Yep a lot folks hate my Pollyanna attitude.  Well it is who I am!  If I didn’t have the optimism that we would win this fight I would have never joined in the fight for public Ed with this organization!!! I would have stayed holed up in my classroom waiting for the next shoe to drop! It was the spirit of optimism shared by BATs that we WILL WIN this fight that has made me one tenacious, Pollyanna BAT.
Most importantly, I will never quit on my fellow BATs. Loyalty and integrity runs deep for me.  Marla taught me to “block out the noise that contaminates the focus of what we are doing” I made a sign with that quote.  It is taped on my computer desk above my computer screen, along with a quote from a dear friend “Together we build a movement.”
My definition of  winning is when something is gained through advocacy. That is winning. Winning doesn’t mean EVERYTHING that was advocated for was gained; when EVERYTHING that was advocated for is gained, it is called a VICTORY. GAME OVER! For the football fans, where are we in this fight? It  is the second half and we are ahead on the scoreboard, we are indeed winning. We have momentum in our favor but, we cannot declare VICTORY.   However we are indeed winning. That is a simple cold hard undisputable fact. Too often activist focus on what they have lost or not gotten and not on what they have won. We teachers celebrate every little victory for our students yet neglect to celebrate every little victory for ourselves. I am Pollyanna. I celebrate every “little win.” This is winning
Let me tell you, 2015 has been a great year for Pollyanna!
SO what was so good about 2015 for this Pollyanna BAT you ask?
ON January 1st  2015, I made a New Year's Resolution to do at least one BAT action per day. This entailed sending an email a day to policy makers or taking 5 minutes to do the BAT action that is the pinned post in my state or on BATS the main page.
The result of that commitment is I KNOW we are winning.

Engaging in the process of activism you begin to see the results of your advocacy step by step. It assists you in forging relationships with other advocates along with the policymakers. I will never forget the policymaker who shall remain unnamed who called me back while on the floor of the New York State assembly asking me for more data and information involving the Education Act of 2015, minutes later this policymaker spoke to the assembly repeating every word I had just told them. The policymaker voted no on the Education Act of 2015. Several NY Bats had similar experiences! This is  WINNING.

The bill still passed.  It was the worst education bill in my lifetime, but as an advocate I was heard. This year I will be heard by more policymakers than last year because the groundwork has been laid to be heard. This is winning.
Winning for the Quality of Work Life Team
By January of 2015 the BATs Quality of Work Life team had been formed. A group of women broken by the system were determined to change things. You can read our teams story here
  We took tragedy and turned it into something very positive. We built a coalition to support us with the AFT.  We set goals, we never gave up, we never let up and approached every goal with a “can do” attitude. We cried, we laughed, and we worked tirelessly to achieve our goals. What kept us going? We KNEW we would WIN! Why??? Because we were right! WE DID WIN and WE ARE WINNING!
The Quality of Worklife survey was published and covered extensively in the media. It caught the attention of many policy makers, We exposed the policy makers for destroying educators lives, health and profession. We “Batucated” the public policy makers and appointed officials that a teacher's work environment is a student's learning environment! With the assistance of the AFT Legislative team along with our tenacious BAT advocacy (remember all the emails BATs sent this June and July) resulted in Legislative language that President Obama signed into law this past week in the ESSA. This provides Title II funding to local districts to survey and improve the quality of worklife for their staff and students. Since our team achieved our one of goals, this is Winning and this was a VICTORY because we got EXACTLY what we advocated for in that legislative language:
Under Title II SEC. 2103. LOCAL USES OF FUNDS: N) developing feedback mechanisms to improve school working conditions, including through periodically and publicly reporting results of educator support and working conditions feedback;
The Quality Of Work Life Team has much planned for 2016. Stay tuned, we are winning!
SO when BATs are recruiting new BATs because BATs are always recruiting and trying to grow our organization, you can let them know we have legislative language that is now signed into law.  That is winning.
Winning at the NPE convention in Chicago
I met BATs from all over the country and connected with our beloved Chicago Teachers Union members and allies. I forged new friendships, even sat and cried with a few BATs who were feeling as overwhelmed as I was.  I met bloggers I admire, thanked Diane Ravitch, finally met Carol Burris (two of my heroes) and left there fully aware of the magnitude of the war I was fighting.  That’s winning.  
Winning on Capitol Hill
I was privileged to accompany fellow BATs to Capitol Hill. I had the odd experience of being bumped from a meeting space because of last minute appointment. I will never forget meeting Madeline Albright and chatted with her about being a school teacher. When BATs met the TFA Aide for our senator out in the hallway, we gave her a very emotional “Batucation”. The Aide became very emotional in response to our stories. Did it change my senator’s vote on key points on the bill? I will never know but, the look on the TFA staffers face as she was ready to burst into tears; well that is winning.
WInning at the BAT Congress

Converging on Washington DC with BATs and Allies from across the country was exciting. So much was learned by presentations, interactive workshops and the amazing BAT fellowship on the terrace as Becca led us in song. Forging strong bonds now that is winning!  

Winning BATs are Union Strong

IN early July I joined Marla and Love Light at the AFT TEACH Conventions to share the Quality of Worklife survey with the convention attendees, as well as attend our co-founders workshop on grassroots activism which was standing room only! This is winning!

In late July BAT Leaders began the process to write an amicus brief. I was privileged to work with them on this brief. Having never done this before in my life! I found myself on some days I truly thought I must be crazy!!! With the push of Marla and Love Light Pollyanna kept moving forward, as the whole team kept repeating  “We can do this” and guess what we did! This is winning
Winning in Social Justice Education
BATs have taught me to be a conscientious social justice warrior and teacher. I have learned to recognize “White Privilege” and speak up and educate all I can the civil rights and social justice issues of our time.I learn much from reading the D.R.E.A.M  page and frank discussion from our social justice leaders. BATs are on the forefront of Social justice and Civil Rights issues.  This is winning.
Winning in state Advocacy

This Pollyanna testified to the NYS Common Core Task Force along with many NY BATs and allies.  I was able to speak to one of Governor Cuomo’s education policy advisers providing her with the with results of  the Quality of Worklife Survey in New York state. The data tells an undeniable story of the abuse of a profession. This information “enlightened”  their thinking. This is winning.
The ESSA is the Mixed Bag
I had the privilege to work with a team to go through this document line by line. Let me be clear THERE WERE NO SURPRISES IN THIS BILL to BAT Leaders.
The potential in this bill to have some positive impact on our children and our profession will rely on intensified sustained advocacy!  THAT MEANS EVERY BAT WILL NEED TO TAKE ACTION IN 2016!!!
Most importantly a window is opened that requires BATs to be more active than EVER. The fight in the states will be hard fought but will require all BATS to recruit more BATs for their state fights. It is possible that Common Core could be dead. Testing could look different, teacher evaluations and accountability language have enough open in the language to create  better systems. Opportunity for change is winning.
Each state will have to fight this battle. BATs already have a plan because BATs are a winning organization they have ALWAYS been one step ahead of the political process. This is winning!
Keep in mind Right always wins. We are right! The privatizers began their War on public education in the 1980’s. We have been on the forefront of this fight for two years. THIS WILL TAKE TIME AND TENACITY OF PURPOSE!! Tenacious Pollyanna Bats NEVER GIVE UP! Though we have lost the battle on testing in this first round we are far from defeated. We Fight Forward! We double the opt outs! We educate more organizations to see our point of view. A battle lost does not mean the war is lost. We have a plan to fight testing. We are winning.
Pollyanna BAT believes Democratic political process equals compromise which means we never get 100% of what we want, but the BATs do NOT stop fighting until we get 100% .  Pollyanna SUPPORTS THIS FIGHT through every action 100%!! To Pollyanna, Progressive equals progress. DID WE MAKE PROGRESS?? UNDENIABLY YES! This is winning!
DO WE HAVE MILES TO GO BEFORE VICTORY???? YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
SO how do we keep winning in 2016?
Remember tenacious Pollyanna BAT NEVER FLIES ALONE  For each “little win” I was ALWAYS surrounded by the support of BATs, in conjunction with BATs. Pollyanna knows the enemy well and never underestimates their power or resolve to win. BATS NEVER FLY ALONE !  This is winning.

Those of us in the classroom need to celebrate every “little win”. We are under the gun every day we need those "little wins: to keep us going. We must keep hope alive. Winning takes time, preparation, and practice and so we must celebrate the “little wins” to attract the like minded so we can someday declare victory. Once a week share a post of a “little win” with your fellow BATS. This is winning.
We activate more Bats. What’s important to know is all across the country there are Tenacious Pollyanna’s getting ready for battle and waiting to be recruited by BATS! There are many educators deeply suffering, we must bring them hope!  Recruit NEW BATs. Set a goal! Let’s get 100K BATs in 2016. This is winning!
People like winning and we are winning!
Lastly but most importantly commit to do BAT actions.Commit to at least ONE action a week and if you're tenacious and a Pollyanna shoot for FIVE .  Grow your personal advocacy and advocacy network! Let BAT leadership know when you have made a connection, or have an idea for a BAT action. POST when you have experienced a ‘little win” This is winning!   

IN 2016 we fight harder knowing that we are winning.  Talk about winning everyday.   Know this: What we think, we become, what we put out into the world, becomes our reality! ” Keep your eyes on the prize know in your heart and every cell of your body that we are indeed winning.

So I ask you in 2016 to make a New Year's Resolution put a little Pollyanna in your step!  Recruit some folks to join an organization that is winning and making a difference every single day. That is the BADASS TEACHERS ASSOCIATION!!
Let 2016 be your year that you put a “little Pollyanna” in your BAT life. That’s winning.

Happy Holidays my BIG BAT FAMILY and have a WINNING NEW YEAR!
Jamy A. Brice-Hyde M.Ed.
Director of the BATs Quality of Work LIfe Steering Committee

1 comment:

  1. I once said that Jamy could charm a bird out of a tree. Now, I think Jamy could inspire that bird to fly.


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