A Tale Of Two Marches
by Dr. Michael Flanagan
On Thursday night I went with some of my colleagues to Washington DC in order to meet with the staffs of Senator Sanders and Senator Hassan and advocate for public education. It is important in this time of upheaval in American politics to advocate for public school students. The DeVos confirmation vote is scheduled for Monday and my fellow members of BATs and I wanted to make sure the voices of real teachers and parents were heard by at least two of the key members of the Health Education Pensions and Labor committee.
Our meetings with both staffs went well, in addition to pushing back on DeVos, we spoke about the threats to IDEA, the concerns of ESSA, a call for a Congressional conference in which real teachers and actual experts could show that the public schools are not “failing”, but that we are intentionally being failed in order for astroturf organizations like Students First, corporations like Pearson Publishing and Charter schools like Success Academy to siphon off public school tax dollars. We brought up the dilapidated working conditions of so many public schools, especially for those students and teachers in Detroit, the home of Betsy DeVos. We also brought up the fact that BATs has created an action group with a large social media reach that we could use to push progressive issues and target specific concerns of the HELP Committee members. BATs may not have the millions of dollars of the Eli Broad, Walton and Fordham foundations, but we have networks of intelligent, concerned and dedicated public school activists who are mobilized and ready to support actions. The meetings went well, and we will continue to cultivate those connections while making more appointments with politicians.
However, the reason I write this piece is not to discuss our efforts to advocate on the behalf of our teachers and their students. It is to describe a rather ironic circumstance. My friends in BATs and I usually stay at the Holiday Inn when we are in DC. It is right across the street from the Department of Education and we have organized several protests from that hotel. When we arrived there Thursday night, we were focused on our meetings with the Senators. So much so that we did not realize how many people, especially young high school aged kids, were walking around the hotel hallways and lobby. As we were in the elevator going down to dinner, three of us looked at each other, questioningly as we noticed the people riding down with us in the elevator carrying Bibles and wearing Christian themed T-Shirts. When we got to the lobby it became clear that the hotel was filled with Badass Teachers Association: A Tale Of Two Marches by Dr. Michael Flanagan: