“What you guys are doing is a great thing!”

30 Jun

The BATs (Bad Ass Teachers) of Washington organized their first public event on June 26 – it was a smashing success! Beginning at the iconic Westgate Park, home of political expression and protest for five decades, it was the perfect spot for a gathering of BATs. By 4:30 PM teachers were arriving, making signs and setting up a stage. Music and speeches started at five and about 5:45 police closed off 5th Avenue and hundreds of us marched off to Seattle Center and the Bill Gates Foundation. Included in those ranks besides me from San Diego were teachers from Oregon, Arizona and Oklahoma.

Teachers can do anything well, make signs, speak and sing. The crowd was initially uplifted by the impassioned singing voices of adults who actually care about children. Of course, a group of teachers knew to provide everyone in the crowd a copy of the song lyrics plus the words for the chants planned for along the parade route.

I was particularly pleased to hear one of the hero teachers from Seattle’s Garfield High school speak. Last year they made national news by refusing as a staff to give the state’s standardized tests. This year, like the rest of us, they are facing CC$$ testing, which is extreme and disruptive. She is not sure what the staff will decide to do. The pressure will be even greater – after all this is Bill Gates home.

Shortly after five a park worker started gathering up equipment including the chairs some of us were using. When asking for my chair he said, “What you guys are doing is a great thing!”

By the time we headed out onto 5th avenue, it looked like an old fashion union parade from the Samuel Gompers era. There were hundreds of teachers marching. Our ranks covered more than a city block in length. Most of us were carrying signs.

The teacher chorus and guitar player continued to lead us in the songs we had just practiced in Westgate Park. Here’s an example of some of the wonderful lyrics:

“I’m gonna lay down my bubble sheets
Outside the Board of Ed
Outside the Board of Ed
Outside the Board of Ed
I’m gonna lay down my bubble sheets
Outside the Board of Ed
Ain’t gonna teach to the test no more”

We also regaled the locals on the streets with chants like:

“Hey, hey, ho ho.
School closings gotta go!
Hey, hey, ho ho.
Privitization’s gotta go.
Hey, hey, ho ho.
Standardized tests gotta go.
Hey hey ho ho.
Charter schools have gotta go.
Hey hey ho ho.
Arne Duncan has gotta go.”

As we marched along people came out of their stores and businesses to observe. Most of them were smiling, giving us thumbs up, clapping and shouting encouragement. It was clear that at least in downtown Seattle, that teachers and public schools are more popular than those attacking us. At one point cars were traveling down the opposite side of the street and many of them were honking their horns in support. The public is clearly on our side.

Upon arriving at the Gates headquarters, there were more speeches, more songs and more chants. It was a good day for public education.

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One Response to ““What you guys are doing is a great thing!””

  1. Terry Kalb July 2, 2014 at 2:58 pm #

    Onward, BATs, to DC for July 28 at the USDOE!

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