Search This Blog


Friday, May 27, 2016

These hands work the soil of his moral garden

When I was a young boy I remember working in my grandfather's garden. We live in an urban tenement building with out a yard or garden. My garden was a concrete garden. His was a real garden of rich deep soil. He was a man of peace who went to that war to end all wars in 1916. He wept walking those Green Fields of France. He knelt and prayed there at the white cross of his best friend who he left behind there. He prayed and thanked God for surviving before returning to his wife and child back in America. He made his living with his hands by day, read by night, and prayed every single day of his life. He was a good man who somehow managed to buy a big house with a garden.
At Grandad's house we had grass, tomatoes, lettuce, zucchini, pumpkins, herbs and flowers. He loved working in his garden.
My grandfather left school at the age of 8, but he never left learning. He was the most read man I have ever met. His library was bigger than anyone's personal library I have ever met. Books, tools, and gardening was his heaven.
His garden was:
His church,
His university,
His concert hall,
His dance floor,
His sanuaury,
His loving work,
Whenever we visited him in summer it was where he spent his days.
He would invite me every time to come play in his garden of love.
I might say it's hot out here. He would say put on your baseball gap and get down here and help me weed my garden. Before long I forget the heat as he sang those old Woody Guthrie Folk songs.
" Oh, if you ain't got the do re mi, folks, you ain't got the do re mi,
Why, you better go back to beautiful Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee.
California is a garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or see;
But believe it or not, you won't find it so hot
If you ain't got the do re mi.
You want to buy you a home or a farm, that can't deal nobody harm,
Don't swap your old cow for a car, you better stay right where you are,
Better take this little tip from me."
I loved singing, digging, weeding, and dreaming my life away with him in that little garden. He would always grab my hands and put a bunch of soul in them. He would smile and say some fools call this dirt, but this is the Lord's soil. Feel it's richness and hold it's promise. Gold can't feed you, but soil will. He would say this is the work. The good work, the stuff that pleases the Lord. Learn to love the good work little Jess.
He was my teacher, my best friend, the father who I never had. He was my garden. As we worked that garden he would talk about Plato, Socrates, act out whole Shakespeare plays, reenact every story the bible held, he always ended talking about Dr. Martin Luther King. He loved Martin dearly. He would drive 400 miles to see Dr. King in August 63, and bring his garden partner little Jess along for the ride. The ride was more than a ride, and that March on Washington was more than a march. It was something bigger than the two of us. That ride was his way ensuring that the grandson named after him was planted in good moral soil. 
I am already working our garden, love doing the work and love the soil. I follow his routine faithfully, work by day, read by night, and pray everyday. I am his boy, his namesake, his soil, and together our garden still grows strong.
On July 8th Carolyn my wife and gardening partner will drive 400 miles to the Lincoln Memorial in DC for the Peoples March for Public Education and Social Justice. I'll stand in the same place I stood with him 53 years ago. I plan on looking up and saying thank you Grandad for planting me in good soil. Say hello to Martin for me. Tell Dr. King that I heard the dream, and work it every day. Say hello to Grandma and Mom for me. Tell them their boy loves the soil, loves the garden, loves prayer, and loves being a good husband, a good father, a good teacher, and loves working that soil in the garden of justice.
Little Jess

If you want to listen to the song I listened to this morning as I watered the garden... It's Woody Guthrie "I ain't got no home";postID=6457705891236663242

Thursday, May 26, 2016

EQUITY delayed is equity denied? EQUITY denied is injustice

Moral Mondays, Connecticut BATs, Save Our Schools March CT are launching a Equity Now Campaign for equity and justice in our public schools. We are calling our campaign "Equity Now", and it is a year long campaign beginning with Equity Now Salon across the state from June to December, holding a Equity Now Legislative Institute in January, and a massive Rally in Hartford our state capital.

Our first "Equity Now" Salon on June 9 is a TEDxCCSU event. We sent out our invitation late Monday afternoon, and in less than 48 hours we were at capacity. The house ids full, but this is not a one time thing. This is the start of Equity Now Salons across the state. So if you missed this one there are more coming. This is the start of something bigger than us. This is Connecticut's march to justice in our public schools.
Why an Equity NOW campaign. 
I am trying to understand something a legislator told me recently when I ask why can't we have equity in Connecticut's public schools. 
She said we are working on it, it's complicated, it costly, and to be honest voters
are not willing to invest in it. 
My reply what should we say to Black, Brown, and Poor Children in Connecticut?
Children be patient, it complicated, it's costly, and to be honest people are not willing to invest in it.
We are doing the best we can for the children of the wealthy, and doing what we can for poor children of color.
If we don't have equity in our public schools, then we don't have justice in our public schools.
William E. Gladstone said "Justice delayed is justice denied." Our Equity Now coalition refuses to accept a system that tells Black, Brown, and Poor be patient equity is coming someday.

Three quick beliefs about equity I have on equity in our public schools:
1 In conversation about equity it often come down to property taxes the way we fund our public schools. As long as property taxes are used to fund our public schools, the system is fixed deeply in the corner of some will get more and some will get less. Any formula using property taxes to fund our public schools equals quality education by Zip Code.
2. Equity does not equal spending the same amount of money per child. Equity means providing all children with access to the best public education we have.
3. Using test scores as the accountability to hold schools responsible for equity is a status quo of justice denied.
Rather than use test scores to measure accountability. We should hold public schools accountable by insisting wealthy and poor children access same quality education.
We could hold schools accountable by demanding all children regardless income, color or zip code have access to:
The same services,
The same resources,
The same small class sizes,
The same quality art and music programs,
The same highly trained professionals.
Finally if you want to hold public schools accountable for inequity. You should start measuring the above indicators of equity not the test scores of Black, Brown, and Poor children forced into a system of inequity.

Connecticut will be in the house come July 8 at the Lincoln Memorial in DC at the Peoples March for Social Justice and Public Education. July 8 won't end inequity and injustice in our nation's public schools. Justice is not some stagnant puddle of water, it is an storm filled ocean on which brave ships of justice ride. If you live in Connecticut or any place USA come ride with us on these ships of justice?
Like Dr. Martin Luther King I reject justice delayed,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner 

If you like to hear more about my views on our Equity Now Salons, the Peoples March, and equity...please consider listening to my guest with Denisha Jones (6/26/16) appearance on DC We Act Radio BUS Education Town Hall.

If you are wondering what this Walking Man listened to on his sunshine filled walk over the Avon mountain its....Marvis Staples version of Eye on the prize..>

Sunday, May 15, 2016

7/8 come lay a new Corner Stone of Justice for Public Edcation

Howard Zinn said: “We don't have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”
These are my sisters in justice Ruth Rodriguez and Ceresta Smith, we met some years ago on the road to change. We are three small acts of change, come join us as we become millions?
Trust me America's children will love us, not because we won, or lost, but because we stood up for them. We can do this people, we can become the change that transforms our public schools. Know this angels of change are gathering this July 8 at the Lincoln Memorial. We are gathering to lay a new corner stone for justice in America. Justice begins by reclaiming our public schools and demanding an end to this era of test, punish and privatize.
My sisters, our brothers and I are already marching arm in arm to a new tune of No More Justice Denied.
We reject that old corner stone of that "School To Prison Pipeline" rooted in racism, inequity and injustice for Black, Brown, Poor and Special Needs Children.  We will not tolerate 49 states spending more money on their wealthy schools than their poor schools.  We will give our political leaders and policy makers:
No cover for injustice,
No cover for inequity,
No cover for segregation,
No cover for their bigotry of false choices,
Not one vote for inequity,
Not one vote for injustice,
Not one vote for the lies of testing equals equity liars.
Calling all you masons of justice come lay that new corner stone in our nation's capital at the place where Dr. Martin Luther King gave birth to a new dream.  Come join us as we demand that Pledge of "Liberty and justice for all" in our public schools become real? You can stay on the sidelines of apathy and silence, or you can come lay the new corner stone with us? 
One Man Walking In The Name Of Love,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

PS you can march for free people on July 8.
If you want a little more come join us at Howard University for a day of social justice conference sessions. 

If you want to know what this listen to the tune this Walking Man listened to on his walk on this windy's " One Day" by Matisyahu >