Facing Disappointment Before Rebirth

I’m not new to activism, but I am new to activism on a larger scale via social media. Up until now I was using social media to read and learn mostly, but I was not connected to other groups or teachers outside of my school and district. But that all changed when Diane Ravitch wrote about a new group on Facebook last summer (June 2013) called the Badass Teachers Association. Here is the stated Mission and Goals:

MISSION: Badass Teachers Association was created to give voice to every teacher who refuses to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality through education. BAT members refuse to accept assessments, tests and evaluations created and imposed by corporate driven entities that have contempt for authentic teaching and learning.

GOALS: BATs aim to reduce or eliminate the use of high-stakes testing, increase teacher autonomy in the classroom and work to include teacher and family voices in legislative decision-making processes that affect students.

FINALLY!!!! A group who wanted to fight back against the attacks on teachers that I had been feeling for a quite a while.

But as you know from my last post, BATs and I broke up. No, I was demonized, fired and then banished from the royal kingdom. The experiences I had ranged from powerful, inspiring, engaging in the beginning to frustrating, confusing, shocking, hurtful, disgusting, and pathetic at the end. The reason I mention the range of experiences I had was that I had time to get used to my current reality. It didn’t happen suddenly. It was a gradual degeneration. I had time to recognize the pattern of behaviors I was seeing and then experiencing. I had intelligent, highly educated and experienced fellow teacher volunteers to process it all with. We were on the inside of this group looking out. We knew more than the average BAT. 

So now that we see other mainstream BATs being excommunicated, who didn’t have the perspective and time to adjust to being suddenly decommissioned for asking questions and stating dissenting opinions about the harsh and random actions of those in charge, we feel a responsibility to comfort and console them. They are hurt. They are angry. They are confused. They are shocked. They are disillusioned. They are feeling varying levels of despair. Because, like many of us, they once thought that BATs would be the answer to their hopes and dreams — the awakening that we had all been wanting across this country for such a long time!!!

So let me share with you an example of support I wrote as I reached out to one recent BAT who was banned for “excessive arguing with admins/mods/founders.” There seems to be a lot of that happening lately. How could so many of these longtime BATs suddenly become argumentative trolls? Hmmmm. I have changed her name here in case she prefers it that way. And now, with another glimpse into the demise of a once-promising group, here’s my response to her critique that she posted after being banned from the group, too:

“Rosanna, you said it well! My favorite line was about the paranoid chatter of how people who disagree with them are trying to “to change the direction of this group.” (I’ve heard that, myself, and so have many others….) Yes, Mark [Naison, group co-founder], I guess we are. We’re asking that you and your co-workers there inside of BATs listen to your members, respect them, realize that without THEM, YOU and your co-workers there have nothing. Seriously. BATs members (especially if they felt INSPIRED rather than FIRED) would rightly be singing BATs praises, but without them, after chasing them away with cursing and invitations to FIGHT you (*sigh*), what will BATs be? A wasteland of abandoned threads…that’s what it will be if you don’t reverse course. OH, but you’ve heard it all before! Since Day 3. About how BATs would never make it and now you have “44,000 TEACHERS” that “CAN’T BE WRONG.” Teachers? Yes, and parents. And college students. And real estate agents. And anyone who gets added by a FB friend or anyone who knows how to click a mouse.

“Rosanna, you are joining the ranks of a growing group of former BATs who were once told (or more than once) that you were “trying to change the direction of the group.” There were a number of us former admins/mods who Mark called “a faction” who he believed were out to take over BATs, you know, “a coup”. It didn’t matter how many times in the past one had complimented (sincerely) the work the leadership had done (early on, it was very admirable work, indeed!) or how much work one had done FOR them or for how long. Nope. All of that became irrelevant and invalid in their eyes once they had decided that those same people were now “out to get them.” We jokingly refer to ourselves now as “Factionistas” because we find it to be that…a laughable, yet twisted and sad accusation.

“So, chin up, Rosanna! It doesn’t take much to be given this medal of honor from them. Wear it proudly! It means you spoke up for what was right and good. You were persistent about what would make them stronger and better, but they weren’t interested because Father Knows Best and they have built a one-way, high-speed super expressway and now it is heading to Washington, D.C. to surround the DOE and protest (or rally??) with other cooperative members of their ever rapidly-expanding, unincorporated Facebook Group. 

“It’s April. The end of July is still a ways off. Let’s wish them well and see how it all turns out for them. I’m sure they are prepared for the same forces that cyber-attacked United Opt Out’s website and demolished it. 

“In the meantime, keep up the good work you’ve been doing!” 

So as we learn about someone we know who has been cut loose, we have each been telling our story as a way to expose the transgressions, to comfort the newly wounded warriors, to help them heal and inspire in them hope that all is not completely lost. There are other fine groups out there doing incredibly effective work that we can align ourselves with. We have made some fine alliances already with former BATs and some who still remain in it. Who knows what will come from these new bonds being formed? All I know is, it has got to better than where we’ve been. So, chin up my brothers and sisters! We have work to do!


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2 responses to “Facing Disappointment Before Rebirth”

  1. Robin Cederblad says :

    Well stated, Noelle. I know “Rosanna” and I saw her questions/comments. She was definitely not an “argumentative troll.” Sadly, BATs does not want to hear the dissenting voice – to them it is only divisiveness. It is unfortunate that with such huge problems facing us that a small group is more focused on eliminating rather than embracing help in the battle.

  2. Michael Lambert says :

    From an organizational perspective, there is a critical lack of objective self-examination in the Bat Cave. No one asks,”what are we doing wrong that causes so much animus?” In the long run, as the Bats rise in notoriety, their detractors will rise also to the detriment of the Bat brand.

    “Further on down the road,
    Someone’s gonna hurt you like you hurt me…”

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