Opine I will

I am an elementary school teacher just trying to do the right thing

Be All-In and dump those with Tin Foil Hats

It’s been far too long since my last post. Been way to busy, shutting down the classroom, packing things away, and decompressing the mind and soul. I now have to begin gearing up for next year. I was elected President of my local union and just finished an intensive 4 day new president’s conference with NYSUT. In the meantime, I’ve also been watching the discussions on Twitter and Facebook. The good news is, groups like “Badass Teachers Association” (BAT) on Facebook are growing exponentially. The bad news is, more and more awkward alliances with those who wear ‘tin foil hats’ are also happening.

I consider myself a badass teacher. I agree with their mission and I have joined their site along with nearly 20,000 others in the last week or so.

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.

I wholeheartedly agree with that statement. I believe our nation’s most precious asset, our public schools, are at risk. I believe the Common Core is a dangerous national social experiment, that was rushed to the forefront without
research, study, piloting or critique. I believe that parties on both sides of the aisle have rushed onto the reform bandwagon in a futile attempt to fix what they perceive needs fixing. Unfortunately, both groups have chosen the same asinine reform methods to fix very different perceived problems.

Those on the left perceive the problems lie with social justice issues, while those on the right perceive the problems lie with teacher’s unions, and a so called left wing curriculum.

Both groups have united in a call for a Common Core Curriculum, some form of high stakes testing, evaluating teachers, closing rather than fixing schools in need, and ignoring the expertise of those of us in the field. They have shared the spoils of this reform movement, billions of tax payer dollars are being divided up by consultants, publishers, software companies, and corporations opening their own version of “nirvana schools.”

The resulting backlash has been from groups like BAT, Parents against the Common Core, Opt Out and others. Forces from both sides of the aisle are speaking out, claiming non-partisanship, and claiming numbers count in this battle for our nation’s schools. I think we all agree, creating our own bandwagon, taking over the public discussion, driving our agenda, pushing that pendulum back toward common sense and reasonableness is the way to go.

Unfortunately among us with the tin foil hats may destroy our efforts.

Yes, I have heard the claim that we are united and this should be non- partisan. But in reality we are not united. To be Badass, to believe in opt out, to really against the Common Core as it presently stands,and to be against high stakes testing, you need to be all in. I mean really all in!

You can’t support the Tea Party types, who with their tin foil hats, believe government is taking over our minds and souls, You can’ t place your support and discussion of Parents against the Common Core on a Heritage Foundation website. You shouldn’t allow people like Glenn Beck carry your banner against the Common Core. You can’t support those in the Republican Party who ignore social issues, bash teachers and their unions, and destroy collective bargaining rights.

The truth is, you are not all in if you support these groups.

Creating alliances with any group that would look to destroy public unions is a death knell to our profession and our national identity. Don’t tell me we all can’t agree on every issue, don’t say, “look at what we agree on and not where we differ.” That’s not being all in.

Granted the Democrats are part of the problem as well. However, their motivation from the social justice side is far more tenable that the motivations of those on the Right. I refuse to ally with those who look to destroy us from the Right.

I am beginning to see those with the tin foil hats in our groups, emerging as a voice against teacher’s unions, questioning their motivation and their decisions. Those of us who believe in unions know that change must happen from within. The Union is us, we need to drive change from within our ranks by getting involved, attaining leadership positions, and educating our members.

That’s what it takes to be all in.


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22 thoughts on “Be All-In and dump those with Tin Foil Hats

  1. Anonymous on said:

    So what you are saying is in order to be all in you can only be a democrat?

    • what I am saying is that todays Republican Party has been Hijacked by those with the tin foil hats, and until that changes we stand a better chance with the Democrats

      • Your political analysis is flawed. The Democratic Party of 2013 doesn’t care a whit about social justice, unions or collective bargaining rights.

        One of the biggest union busters in the land is Rahm Emanuel, once chair of the DCCC and once chief of staff to “progressive” Barack Obama, the guy who put rules in place that forced the firing of unionized teachers up in Central Falls, Rhode Island and then publicly cheered when those teacher axings were announced.

        It is true that many libertarians and Tea Party types see unions, unionized teachers and collective bargaining as a major problem to be dealt with by union busting.

        But so do Democrats like Rahm Emanuel and Barack Obama, as I mentioned earlier, and other prominent ones like Cory Booker, Andrew Cuomo, Dan Malloy, Adrian Fenty, Antonio Villaraigosa, most of the Dems on the House and Senate education committees and a whole host of others in every state who are on the hedge fundie/Wall Street payroll.

        Both parties have been bought by Wall Street and Corporate America and both have sold working people and unionized workers down the river.

        It’s a matter of degree how far down the river they’ll sell you.

        Andrew Cuomo will only sell you half way down, because he still relies on labor and working people for money and political support.

        But make no mistake, he will do to unions and unionized workers what Scott Walker has done to them if and when that becomes politically expedient for him to do so.

        In short, I do not believe in having a litmus test for who can be “all in” of the opt out movement.

        But if we’re going to make a litmus test up for that, we would be naive to think a (D) after the name means someone cares more about social justice or unions or collective bargaining than someone at a Tea Party rally or CPAC.

      • Anonymous on said:

        Ok…..I can agree with the hijacking if the Republican Party….not sure we will agree on by who though…LOL. However, I really do not believe we have a better chance With the democrat party.

  2. Three random reactions:

    1) Congrats on your election as union president!

    2) “I believe the Common Core is a dangerous national social experiment, that was rushed to the forefront with research, study, piloting or critique.” I think you meant without?

    3) I was recently diagnosed with a mild but serious condition that requires surgery. In arguing over the phone about reimbursement for a field test I took for Pearson (yeah, yeah, I know, my bad) a representative from Pearson told me, “Our policy is more important than your health. Yep, you’ll survive.”

    We need more BATs willing to push back against the unhealthy influences in public education today!

  3. Middle school teacher on said:

    Bravo! Congratulations on your election victory! I know your cogent analysis and ability to articulate will be a real boon to the teachers you represent.

  4. I’m going to bookmark your site and preserve checking for brand spanking new information

  5. Bill Owsley on said:

    And so… your opinion as expressed, is why this position will loose, hopefully so! The “common core’ will loose. And your alternative will loose. The problem is that your union position has driven the common core as a response. Thus a third position is needed. My kids and grandkids have opt’d out of public education.  Took the GED escape from the brain dumbing experience. Nothing the unions have offered over the recent 40 years has been, nor is, successful. Go back to the 50’s and early 60’s for successful schooling. Those folks put us on the moon and into the deepest oceans… And not until very recently has someone ventured back to the deepest. And we have quit the moon. The NEA and it’s relationship with purveyors of tests, common core and more, it is the problem. The public, in a feeble attempt to recover some control, has tried to tie teacher performance to the common core tests that have been installed. But now that teacher performance is being tied to these tests, the instigators are backing off from implementing these tests. Genuine teachers will answer to the school board and PTA and none others. There would be no unions, nor any other affiliations since the only focus would be local!

    In summary, I don’t like any government implementation of education… Nor do I like any ideas that you have as they are the opposing side of the same coin for government actions. That coin being driven by your organizations views of what needs to be done. And still… bright folks are opt’ing out of this system to get away from this dumbing down of our students, our next generation!

    My references: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_statewide_teachers'_strike_of_1968

    My mom dated in high school, the guy that started this.   His daughter is my age and were in school together.  She has the same point of view. I graduated in ’69. ps. all the civil rights activities were going on at the same time! Teacher strikes and civil rights riots… This was a wild time!…

    >________________________________ > From: Opine I will >To: wdowsley@yahoo.com >Sent: Saturday, June 29, 2013 8:42 PM >Subject: [New post] Be All-In and dump those with Tin Foil Hats > > > > WordPress.com >rratto posted: “It’s been far too long since my last post. Been way to busy, shutting down the classroom, packing things away, and decompressing the mind and soul.  I now have to begin gearing up for next year. I was elected President of my local union and just finished ” >

  6. Pingback: Buy stock in tin-foil immediately – SCHOOLS MATTER @ THE CHALK FACE

  7. Reasonable people who recognize that reasoning with delusional people drags down any hope of authentic progress are being pushed out of BAT by being annoyed into quitting, or by being blocked, like me, by admins. Others are hanging in there for their own smart, independent thinking reasons. It is like the national drama playing out in interactive real time.

    • Jane, you were booted because you started a new group and used BAT to recruit members, after being asked not to do this.

      There are still many discussions on BAT about alliances with far right groups. Speaking out against that is certainly not a reason anyone is removed from the group.

  8. By the way, this is my favorite kind of joke in these threads: “….this position will loose, hopefully so! The “common core’ will loose. And your alternative will loose.”

  9. Change will not come from within the NEA or AFT. Not the changes that will support a return to a free public education. Their corruption is cast in stone. Change will come from outside of organizations that are buying into testing and evaluation schemes perpetrated by our market-corporate owned government. So, Bad Ass teachers will refuse to lay out all that common core, value added evaluation, testing crap? Great! If they remain in the classroom ” fighting the good fight” against the man, (insert name of pro-corporatization person or organization here), then they will “loose” their jobs upon TFAers and other under qualified personnel, even qualified personnel who will go along with the corporate take over of the classroom, thinking that a box of reality actually exists. There is no box to think outside of while working from the inside of corruption.

    Hell, the major media, like big teachers’ unions, is still locked into the Randi “I thought of this first” Weingarten bull crap. She’s a twisted sister. As twisted as the wraps on a tin foil hat of a Tea Bagger. It’s all about a mad dash for a huge public asset. As big or bigger than the gold rush of our ancient past. And it is engulfing the world and sponsored by government giveaways of public funds and private investment from the ownership class.

    Bad Ass? If teachers call themselves bad asses, then the definition will move forward to defining bad ass as one who’ll be bad ass just enough to keep their job within a system that excoriates them while continuing to turn names into numbers, limit future opportunity to all but the children who can afford to attend schools outside the remnants of the dissolution of what we might consider great educational experience.

    Bad Ass? Only those willing to stop any support of this growing audacity of reform and deregulation, the takeover of our children’s options, their futures, only those who support alternatives to current big unions, big corporations, and their venal exploitation of the people’s common good, health, and welfare, only then will they be “Bad Ass.” Maybe even continue to be teachers. The Bolivians kicked McDonald’s out of their country. Talk about bad ass. I guess the real work, the real revolution against the feudalization of America will be done by those who have nothing to loose (sic).

    • Being “badass” is one thing being reckless is another. Recklessly abandoning the one force that has protected workers because you disagree is nuts. Unions are needed to protect us. Work from within to change your union..

      I refuse to jump off the cliff. I refuse to align with the tin foil hats. Stay the course.. change is slow but it will happen. Unless of course we allow those with hidden agendas to carry our flag.

      • Read again. I did not say abandon forces that has protected workers. I am all union. What I said was to get out of corrupted unions and form new ones. Being “badass” is to take a risk. Of course, being a newly appointed union president, you clearly feel you can be an affective change agent within despoiled unions such as the NEA and AFT.

        Jumping off the cliff still carries the connotation of refusing to allow the tyranny of the far right, those tin hatted you speak of, to force their agenda upon American citizens vis a vis The Great Austerity following the Great Failure of pushing back against taking middle America hostage by idiotic right wing bullying and deceptive policy practice. “Change is slow but it will happen.” Really? You bought this old time meme? Tell this to a third grader. They’ll be old enough to vote by the time changes occur within existing, delimiting policy that includes bending over for the current attack upon public schools. And those changes will fall far short of our goal for a free and public education. One like Deborah Meier spoke of recently.

        One more life lost to CCSS, VAM, HST, and whatever the hell else the corporate overclass can push down the throats of students, teachers, and parents. And here come more Davids out to cut their way through to the heart of more Goliaths. That may be okay for your conservative, traditional thinking. But we are not in that world any longer. All this rebuilding within the corporate control of education (on campuses and within unions) is nothing more than risk aversion. Like Chris Hedges said: Rise Up, Or Die. It’s coming to that. Speak truth to power? Chomsky rightly said that the power already knows the truth. They refuse all but their own agenda in the face of truth.

        Good luck with that jawbone of an ass thing. My grandchildren don’t have the time to waste on corporate driven school policy and union busting deceptive practices by those very unions who purport to support public schools and public school teachers. There are alternatives. Ones that provide far more curriculum opportunities than those offered by the corporate taking of public education. Ones that can provide proper protections for all workers.

        • You rant about forming new unions, yet whats the plan? You really think that is quicker? I chose to get in the trenches and facilitate real change. first time I was every called out as having conservative views. You obviously don’t know me.

          Being badass is not just standing up and beating your chest while quoting activists of the past. Being badass is going toe to toe and getting things done.

          • Not beating chest. Not quoting anyone. Merely paraphrasing. Things can happen faster than most can consider. Reckless? Yes, I do feel your approach is conservative in nature and a greater resistance to and overcoming of the assault of private money upon our schools and all other public assets tends to the change within a much shorter due date. Again, what I’m hearing is that my grandchildren will benefit little from your efforts because, as you say, it’s a long term thing.

            JRatto, I do not oppose your position. I support everyone’s efforts in removing the corporatization of our public schools. It’s about the schlog schedule you invoke. I find such an interminable approach limited and much too lengthy.

  10. tmgrocki on said:

    “Being badass is not just standing up and beating your chest while quoting activists of the past. Being badass is going toe to toe and getting things done.”
    I’m so glad you feel this way because that’s how I feel. Congrats on your election.
    I have been very disappointed in NEA and AFT these days. I don’t see change happening through them. I’m not very confident with NYSUT either. So how do we get things? How do we mobilize locals to take action? And what action do we take? There are so many issues,where do we start and who can and will lead us?

  11. I just reread the blog and I have to admit that I have made alliances with people I never I thought would. Diane Ravitch is one example. As a registered Democrat, it’s perplexing to me that I find I have more in common with Parents Against Common Core than Democrats for Education Reform. We need to do what it takes to present a united front against the corporate take over of public education. And it needs to be done sooner than later. We can’t wait 10 years. The more voices we have then hopefully it can be done faster. So for me, it means if I align myself with groups, I normally would not,on this one topic, I’m going to do it. I won’t dismiss what someone has to say about the deformers because he/she is a conservative or in the Tea Party. I would hope that someone on the conservative side would extend the same courtesy to me. The pushback on CCSS and RTTT is bipartisan and I think that’s to our advantage.

    • it is not about labels or catchy names. It is about what they really stand for. You can not be against ed reform and against teachers at the same time. That is not all in.

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