Monthly Archives: May 2014

Mark Naison EduNews Takes on Teach for America

Here it is!!! Mark Naison EduNews takes on Teach for America!!!

Why People Who Are Disillusioned With BATS Won’t Make a Complete Break

I have been thinking about why so many people who claim to be completely disillusioned with BATS and it leaders won’t make a complete break and remain in the main group, or our state groups, while reserving their most bitter attacks against us for sites where we don’t have the power to delete.

And it’s for this reason: It’s not only the number of members that BATS has, it’s that the structure which Priscilla, and Marla and Melissa and so many others has created is virtually impossible to recreate. We are talking about the combination of a national organization, fifty state groups, a twitter page, a website, a youtube channel, a Pinterest site, and at least forty theme groups, staffed, by our latest estimate, by 245 volunteers! This gives this organization incredible flexibility that few, if any activist organizations can match. What other group has more than 50 moderators making sure divisive content doesn’t appear on its main page? What other group has local organizations that can launch actions in a state or region and then put out a 911 call and have a national organization come to its defense in a matter of days, and in some instances a matter of hours.

This is really quite unprecedented. Even the teachers unions, which have millions of members are envious of how quickly we can move into action, and Diane Ravitch knows when there is a crisis where she wants resources moved quickly, that we are the group to call

We- and again, I want to largely credit Marla and Priscilla and Melissa, have created a structure which is hierarchical enough to make quick decisions, whether about deleting posts or launching actions,and yet still leave huge amounts of room for local initiative.

You cannot recreate this with 5 people, 50 people, or 500 people. That is the elephant in the room. It is why so many people have tried to take us over. It is also why people disillusioned do not want to leave.

It is also why this group has immense resilience and staying power- at least so long as people are wiling to put in the work to make the structure run.

In some ways, this is an organizational miracle because it has been done without incorporating, without raising money, without accepting grants.

It is fueled by the passionate commitment of hundreds of brilliant people who have been demonized, underestimated, and excluded from power- America’s teachers. Who are ready to show their many enemies that their voice cannot be silenced

Why I Love “Setting a Bad Example”

 I set a bad example, not only for people who work in education, but for workers everywhere. I love my job. I can’t wait to get there in the morning.  And it’s not because of the money. I get paid decently, but that’s not what floats my boat. I could make a lot more money than I do. I have deferred merit increments for the past ten years so my younger  colleagues can have a better chance of receiving them  and contribute more than half my speakers income to the Bronx African American History to help pay our research staff.

No, what makes me love my job, and what makes me such a subversive, is the FREEDOM. I don’t have a boss. I don’t even have a supervisor. I can teach what I want, write what I want, and say what I want either inside the university.No one every monitors what I am doing and no one ever observes me. If someone came to observe me without asking my permission, I would throw them out of my classroom. Physically.

The US Department of Education, Middle States Evaluators, and some university administrators hate my having this kind of autonomy. Unable to control me directly, they are trying to assert indirect control by assessing my “outcomes.” I fight all incursions like these tooth and nail. I provide as little information to the university administration as possible, and publicly attack any and all infringements on my jobs rights, my freedom of expression, and my commitment to peer evaluation and governance.

 But if it was up to most policy makers, people like me would disappear. And they are doing everything possible to try to make sure that a new generation of self-governing tenured faculty are not created. They are assigning more and more college teaching to adjuncts and part time faculty, and trying to water down tenure rights for those faculty who already have them. They claim that our freedoms are a smokescreen behind which “bad teachers” seek cover. And that they have to take away those freedoms to better serve students

But it is not to better serve students that tenure is under attack. It is that workers who approach their jobs with real autonomy and creativity are a threat to a system that thrives on intimidation and micromanagement as ways of extracting “productivity.” And in which productivity gains almost exclusively accrue to those at the top.

So at a time when many people are contemplating retirement, I am still fired up with love for my work, and committed to Total Resistance to any incursions on my professional autonomy or freedom of speech.

“Would You Rather” – A Call for Parent/ Teacher Resistance by Stacy Biscorner

Your child's teacher:
Spend 3 hours writing weekly lesson plans
Spend an extra 3 hours teaching your child?

Your child's classroom:
Be filled with projects on display, motivational posters and children excited
about learning
Be filled with data walls, I Can Statements and children who dread going to

Your child's technology lab:
A place to learn keyboarding skills and research topics of interest
A place where students go to use computers to take standardized assessments?

Your child's music class:
Where students go to sing, play instruments and dance
Where students go to take standardized assessments?

Your child's P. E. Teacher:
Someone who instills healthy choices, the love of sports and exercise habits
Someone who gives your child standardized assessments?

Do you see a pattern here?

Now, would you rather:
Sit back, do nothing and hope it goes away
Join in the efforts to stop it?

Your child and his/her teacher need your help! Fight for them! Attend your local
school board meetings, contact your state legislators. Take back your child's

Stacy Biscorner, MA, LLPC, NCC

What I Have Learned from Studying African American and Labor History

One of the great things about spending the last 45 years studying and teaching African American History, and US Labor History is that I am no stranger to tragedy, disappointment and defeat, and will not give in when those become my reality or the reality of those around me. Having immersed myself in example after example of cruelty, inhumanity, and collective indifference to the suffering of others, I have learned to cherish the moments of enlightenment and resistance which do inevitably come, and the ingenuity of people who have been written off by the wealthy and the powerful, and the cultural and political creativity that results. You can jail people, kill people, stigmatize them and marginalize them, but you cannot permanently break their spirit, They will rise again, often in ways that will surprise everybody. That knowledge sustains me through the hardest times. And gives me something to share with those who have been on the journey a shorter time