BATS, Diane Ravitch, and Bill DeBlasio’s Victory

Bill DeBlasio Education ReformBill DeBlasio, a candidate who decisively rejected most of Michael Bloomberg’s Corporate Education Reform agenda, has just won the race for Mayor of New York City with a 49-percentage-point margin, the largest point spread any mayor has achieved since 1985.

Although education was not the only area where  DeBlasio sought to sharply distinguish himself from his predecessor, opposition to excessive testing and school closings , and support for pre-school and after school programs, were pivots of his winning formula and was one of the reasons that Diane Ravitch, and many NYC BATS, mobilized so aggressively behind his campaign.

I still remember that night in July when my wife Liz and I attended a fundraiser for Bill DeBlasio sponsored by Diane Ravitch at the home of her son Michael, a parent in my wife Liz’s schools, and a former leader of the gay right group Act-Up. At that time, DeBlasio was still an underdog in the Democratic Primary, and Liz and I attended more because we mistrusted the other candidates education platforms and because we respected Diane, than because we thought DeBlasio could win

Well two things happened that evening which proved to be prophetic:

  • DeBlasio gave an amazing speech, not only presenting his positions on housing, health care, education and law enforcement with great eloquence, but convincing everyone there that he had put together a coalition that had a real chance of winning.
  • Diane Ravitch pulled me aside, told me she loved the BATS, and told me she hoped we would become the “ACT-UP” of the movement against Corporate Education Reform, using confrontation, humor and innovative tactics to take it to the Deformers more aggressively than conventional groups could

Well, it’s four months later and guess what – Bill DeBlasio is Mayor of New York City and our very own New Jersey BAT, Meliissa Tominson (aka Love Light) confronted Chris Christie on the campaign trail in a manner that did not derail his gubernatorial campaign, but will haunt him in the future when he tries to run for President, while giving teachers all over the country a sense of their own power.

mark naisonFor the last ten years, or more, teachers in the US have been a sleeping giant.

Now they are awakening, and the rise of this group has been an integral part of that awakening.

Congratulations Mayor DeBlasio. Go BATS!!

Mark Naison
With a Brooklyn Accent

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Published by the LA Progressive on November 7, 2013
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