By Nat Morton
Hopping around Twitter today I was struck by the mission statement of an organization known as Badass Teachers Association. On social media, at least, they seem to be very vocal on many public education issues including the “Keep The Cap” (on public charters) campaign. Their mission statement reads as follows:
This is for every teacher who refuses to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality, and refuses to accept assessments, tests and evaluations imposed by those who have contempt for real teaching and learning.
In my professional life I’ve had the privilege to lead several large organizations, and perhaps job one for any leader is to make sure everyone in and around their organization understands why that organization exists, i.e. clearly state its purpose for being. The mission sets expectations for all concerned and keeps the group focused on the most important tasks they do. I’ve therefore had my hand in writing a few mission statements over the years, and I must say as mission statements go, this one from Baddass Teachers is about a miserable as they come.
In addition to being clear and informative, mission statements should invoke some degree of inspiration. Here are some good examples:
Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environment crisis.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation:
We grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.
You get the idea. Now think about what the Baddass mission essentially says: “It’s impossible to educate these kids any better than we already do, so stop blaming us if you’re not happy with the results.” Not exactly JFK’s moonshot speech, is it?
Badass’ mission statement is not a mission. It’s a codified excuse for aiming no higher than they currently do. If you care about public education and realize these are some of the folks teaching our kids, does it get more depressing?
I think the Badass mission is, in a way, a reflection of what I believe ails the traditional public school system more than anything else: low accountability. These folks just don’t seem to be wired in a way that leads them to say anything such as “Yep, things are not as good as they should be. This is at least partly on us, and we’re committed to doing everything we can to make this right.”
This is why I continue to believe school choice is so important. Until these schools — and these “baddass” teachers — are compelled to earn their enrollment each year, like public charters do, they will continue to generate more excuses than they do results.
This post originally ran here at the author’s own blog.