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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Before there was a race there was something more meaningful

At 2:30 AM she knocks on my bedroom door. Daddy, do you want to come and watch the eclipse with me? Does she really even have to ask? So I drag myself out of bed, and go down the stairs out into that freezing 24 degrees temperature. It's so very chilly and cold. My cup of coffee doesn't help warm me up. She is beautiful, she is 21 years old, and she stills wants her Dad to watch the first lunar eclipse on the winter solstice in nearly 500 years. This warms me up completely. The fact it is still cool to do things with her father alone makes this holiday season wonderful, but then the following morning I see the book she was reading waiting to wake me for the eclipse on the kitchen counter.
There it is, Roald Dahl’s Danny The Champion of the World the copy of the one I read to her when she was 7 years-old one Christmas in Ireland. These are the moments I live for in life. This book moment simply makes this my Christmas perfect.
The note 14 years ago said: Read to and with your child for some 30 minutes a night. This was the request from Mrs. Crowley her second grade teacher…Her note to parents simply said: read to and with your child for 30 minutes every night. It was hand written something unheard of in these days of the printer rules. Do this to encourage a love of reading, be a ham, play it up, and enjoy every moment.
How I the guy whose father never read anything to him, the guy whose father abandoned his only son at the tender age of 10. How I loved my 30 minutes each night with my only daughter. Some 14-years later I love watching the lunar eclipse in wee am hours out in that icy cold night. These are the gifts father’s pray for.
So parents, grandparents, guardians read to your children, read to them not to bring up their test scores, not even to make them better readers, but to plant a love of reading.
Lets pass on Mrs. Crowley’s message written from a time when children were more than test scores… Before the race to the top, and before NCLB. Do it to encourage a love of reading, be a ham, play it up, and enjoy every moment..
Thank you Mrs. Crowley second grade teacher from the valley of the mountain in the land of the sun in Tucson Arizona for these priceless gifts. Come to think of it didn’t we also watch a total eclipse of the sun with you as well.
Thank you, thank you, thank you Mrs. Crowley,
Jesse

Monday, December 20, 2010

Come on up for the rising


There is an old spiritual my mother loved to sing
“Were You There” Oh how my mother loved those old Negro spirituals. The ones they never sang in our all white church. She would picked them up off the radio, and sing them over and over. They gave her strength, moved her spirit, but most of all they left her with purpose and hope.
This is less about the an old spiritual, and more about finding a sense of purpose and hope for the spirit of public education in America.
A sample verse:
“Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, and tremble.
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?”

My mother understood what it meant to tremble, she understood struggle, she knew that if she were really there her heart would be broken, darkness would have filled her soul at that moment, but above all else she knew she would have been outside that tomb on her knees praying with Mary and those other women…remaining silent, staying home, feeling hopeless were not options in her vocabulary. Silence and apathy were not acceptable in the Margaret Turner's home.

The last verse goes:
“Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?
Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?”

Now that verse held it all for momma, to be there at that moment, that verse said it all, that verse was my mother’s saving grace. That verse to this day leaves me trembling.
We too in America are at a tomb, and instead of a body being laid to rest what we have is a group of leaders who want to bury our public schools. Those very places that for nearly 150 years have left us with a sense of purpose and hope.
My point is not a religious one, but one about silence and apathy. Fifty years from now when someone ask “were you there” as NCLB/RTTT tried to bury public education, tried to shift the focus from educating citizens to producing good test takers… When our schools became trading commodities on Wall Street, and our children pawns for profits.
What will you say?
At the age of 55, I doubt I’ll be there, however my students will say,
Jesse prayed to save our schools,
Jesse spoke up to save our schools,
Jesse wrote to save our schools,
Jesse carried signs to save our schools,
Jesse walked to save our schools,
Jesse had faith in our public schools.
He refused to accept that NCLB/RTTT tomb.
He fought for the rising.
Silence and apathy were not in his vocabulary.
Come on friends take the next step join our Save Our Schools March?
As Bruce Springsteen sings come on up for the rising.
Come on up for the rising this July 28-31 in DC, and from every nook and corner in America.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNnB4dkVRJI
Jesse

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Welcome to the great American awakening



Last year I walked 400 miles in 40 days to protest the NCLB/RTTT policies. This year I am walking again, but I am bringing a few friends with me. I am not waiting for Superman, or some dynamic leader to fix public education. Instead I am walking to Washington DC again. What our public schools need most is an Awakening of the American People. An awakening is no simple task before us. The purpose of public schooling in America is enormously complex. Every once in a while, we as a people lose sight of the purpose of schooling in America. As a country we have not had a serious conversation around the purpose of education in over 150 years.


I intentionally use the term awakening because in many ways our great nation has been asleep in regards to the purpose of our public schools. The last time such a conversation was had was when the great Horace Mann fought for the very idea of a public education. He led our nations' noble fight to establish a free public school system. Horace Mann had a great vision called the "Common School Movement." It is his vision that eventually became an American awakening. It was his life's work. His vision focused on building a quality public school system that would educate not only the poor, but would also attract the sons and daughters of the very wealthy. His vision was driven by equality. Indeed the yardstick for public education would eventually become equality. While it was never perfect, equality did become the legal measure of public schools in our great nation. We have a legal history that goes back over a hundred years attesting to this fact. Mann dreamed of a system that inspires the spirit of democracy and a sense of morality. Education was the very means of preserving our democracy. The leadership of his day, on the other hand - much like today, was less inspired by morality and democracy. They did however love the idea of a competitive workforce, (ironically not much has changed). In order to sell the idea of public schools Mann had to compromise, and sell both a competitive workforce and moral citizens. Some of us today refer to this as Horace's Great Compromise. In essence this is America's covenant with a free public education. Although it was a compromise, the moral yardstick of our public school system remained equality until the legislation of No Child Left Behind.


No Child Left Behind lacked any moral compass from the start. This law reduces equality to a test score. It assumes no federal responsibility in obtaining equality. This current education reform has discarded our yardstick of equality. Simply put, the one and only indicator to measure academic success under NCLB is the test score on a standardized measure. Astonishingly NCLB claims to focus on closing the achievement gap while effectively taking the focus off equity issues. It has shifted the focus to outcomes on standardized testing as public schooling savior. Policy makers, politicians, and many of our educational leadership no longer focus on issues of race, poverty, and those Savage Inequalities that Jonathon Kozal so effectively writes about. Standardized testing is seen as the means to end inequality. Policy makers point fingers of blame at parents, teachers, schools of education, even students themselves. In my mind the very weakness of NCLB reforms are driven by their fear that America is losing its economic edge in this global world. In their mind democracy and morality come second. Sadly in some circles it may even be seen as a hindrance.

We once again have the unique opportunity to revisit our public school covenant. This awakening will be driven by two questions:
First: Is the best sole measure of a child a standardized test score?

Second: Is the ability to compete in the workforce the most important outcome of our public schools?

If the answer is a resounding yes, then indeed all that matters is a test of basic academic skills in math, reading, and writing. Unequivocally, I believe that as Americans we expect so much more from our public schools. Morality matters to Americans. In particular it matters to the parents and caregivers of the children in our public schools. Character counts in America. Without a doubt the very principles of democracy matter a whole lot to the people of our great nation. NCLB has thrown the balance so far out of whack that the very fabric of our nation is in danger.

This awakening is so much more than NCLB. It is more than a simple test score, or even education reform. This awakening is about a covenant that has been broken. It must be fixed. In order to do this we need a movement that returns us to a conversation around our nation's public schooling covenant.

Some people naively think parents, teachers, and Americans in general are not ready for this kind of discussion. On the contrary, I believe this is what Americans are born to do. I plan on bringing this conversation to our people. I have great faith in Americans and their do the right thing attitude when push comes to shove. With NCLB push has come to shove. For this reason I walked 400 miles from Connecticut to Washington D.C. this past summer. It is why I am walking again next year. While my simple metaphor to begin this awakening was "Children Are More Than Test Scores" it really must be so much more. It must be a call to action. A call to reclaim our schools; reclaim our schools from fear. We need to return to Horace Mann's vision of purpose.

My walk ended this year on Labor Day on the campus of the American University. Those sitting at our presentation didn't want this to be the end. Instead our group of NCLB resisters said this is only the beginning. All of those present had followed my walk from Connecticut to D.C. (via the internet) since I started out in May. We knew we wanted to continue this conversation beyond test scores. So began our conversation around a balanced and fair assessment system. This will be a system that respects children, teachers, and local schools. This on-going conversation opens the door to the awakening. We as a group, parents, teachers, and academics, have been working hard on planning a series of actions against NCLB, (SOS's March/Teach-in July '11).

America and our public schools need every voice. We need to elevate this conversation to something more than the failure of NCLB. We must be reminded that public schools are at the heart of what makes us America. I think it is imperative to move congress, the senate, and the White House, but first of all we need to move the people of America. The rest will follow.

It is to the people of America I make this call, to the Mom's and the Dad's, the builders and the firefighters, the nurses and the teachers, you are our voice, our hope. I have always thought that each and every one of us can be the hope for each other. Together our voice is loud and clear, and only together can we move mountains.

I am not pessimistic these days. I am not fearful that the day is in danger of being lost. I am convinced this wakening is already happening. No congress, or senate, not even the president can stop this conversation now. We are beyond the tipping point. There is a choice, either get out of the way, or come ride our wave. I love the idea that every tidal wave has its origins in a single drop of rain. Are you part of the coming tidal wave? What is holding you back? Hold on this is going to be one heck of a ride. Teachers and parents come join us in Washington DC. It is your voice that is often missing in this extremely important discussion. Employees of public schools, the teachers and principals of the schools that we all cherish, are very vulnerable in all of this. They and their unions are the targets of so many of the current reformers. They can very easily be dismissed or moved, at the drop of a hat. You are unique. You can do something powerful by speaking up for someone who is crying inside. The teacher or principal that you've known forever may be too fearful to speak up. I call upon you all, especially grandparents, retired teachers and principals. You are the powerful potential.

It was Abraham Lincoln who shared: "I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong".

Rather than tell people what to do, I prefer to say "Why not come join us in Washington DC this July 28th to July 31st, and become a pivotal part of the Save Our Schools Awakening." To connect with this, please join our group, Children are More than Test Scores.

Standing by those that stand right!
Jesse P. Turner,

Thursday, November 18, 2010

 SCHOOLS  *  SAVE OUR SCHOOLS  *  SAVE OUR SCHOOLS
··· — — — ···   ··· — — — ···   ··· — — — ···   ··· — — — ···   ··· — — — ···   ··· — — — ···   ··· — — — ···   ··· — — — ···   ···  

Looks like we got a revolution, come join the tidal wave with us this July...Heck I am walking all the way to DC again.
… Now is the Time …
SOS Step Up 4 Public Education
National Call to Action
July 28-31, 2011
Washington D.C.

Teach-ins, Seminars, Speakers, Documentaries
-- Public Rally --
 (Saturday, July 30th)
*****************************************
FOR THE FUTURE OF OUR SCHOOLS AND OUR NATION, WE DEMAND...

RESPECTFUL REFORM 
Ending the over-reliance on standardized testing in student and teacher assessments
Increasing student, teacher and family involvement in curriculum decision making
Increasing student, teacher and family involvement in assessment decision making
                                                       
FAIR FUNDING FOR ALL SCHOOL COMMUNITIES
Obtaining full funding for school and neighborhood libraries
Equalizing resource disbursement across schools and school systems  
Providing services and support for families specific to community needs

QUALITY CLASSROOMS WITH SAFE ENVIRONMENTS
Providing more time for teaching curriculum, less time spent on testing and test preparation
Providing culturally and linguistically responsive curriculum in every classroom
Reducing class sizes
*************************************

                                          

For more information contact
Stepup4publiceducation@gmail.com

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Walking to DC again

I am waiting on my "Children and Teachers Are More Than Test Scores"stickers to come in the mail. I plan on giving them out at the National Council of English Teachers in Orlando next week. I'll park myself outside the Department of Education Session next Saturday giving everyone entering a sticker. I figure the DOE needs to know how we feel about NCLB/RTTT. Strange how our professional organizations have remained so silent on NCLB.  Silence and apathy are not acceptable this is something we should all be fighting against with everything we have.
I plan on making a little noise there. Speaking of noise yesterday my walk made the front published yesterday in New Britain Herald:  http://www.newbritainherald.com/articles/2010/11/07/news/doc4cd77716d65be772401787.txt
If you have a chance to check out the link please leave a comment for the author to keep things going.
I am walking to DC again,

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The day after

video

The day after the elections is the day to start reminding our old and newly elected politicans parents and teachers don't approved of the focus their NCLB/RTTT education reform policy. Children are more than test scores, and so are their teachers. We cannot afford to keep spending billions on more testing rather than focusing on providing actual in the classroom services to our children in need.
I love being part of this great democracy.
Win, lose, or draw on election day the work of the people goes on. I love my people, and I love my nation.
Now is the time to fight for respectful education reform policies that focus on services to children.
On my 400 mile-walk from Connecticut to Washington DC this summer I heard from parents and teachers that 9-12 weeks of testing was hurting children.
It is time to let our policy makers, our politicians, and our president know we want to focus on teaching again.
Silence, and apathy are not acceptable, and my duty goes well beyond merely voting on election day.
I am walking to Washington DC again,
Jesse

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Declaration of Professional Conscience for Teachers

The most profound reading researcher in our life time is Dr. Kenneth Goodman. He has always advocated reading for meaning using real books. His research always places teachers and students in the the mist of authentic conversations about books, writing, and reading. Because Goodman, advocates using real books rather than abridged versions or basals he has never been the darling of the test book publishers, but he has been the darling of millions of teachers, and millions of children benefited from engaging in authentic conversations about reading. His Miscue Analysis research did more to change the world of teaching reading than any other researcher of my lifetime. His work brings dignity and respect to both child and teacher.
But, Dr. Goodman is also a fighter for good teaching, and below is his Declaration of Professional Conscience for Teachers written some 20 years ago, and is needed more than ever in this new age of just teach to test teachers.
A Declaration of Professional Conscience for Teachers

There is a time in the historic development of every human institution when it reaches a critical crossroad. Institutions, like people, cannot stand still; they must always change but the changes aren't always for the better. Human institutions are composed of people. Sometimes the people within the institutions feel powerless to influence the directions of institutional change. They feel they are swept along by a force beyond anyone. Yet people within institutions can determine the directions of change if they examine their convictions and take a principled stand.
That's what the founders of American democracy understood when they began the Declaration of Independence with "When, in the course of human events,..."

Education in the United States is at such a crossroad. At the same time that schools have rededicated themselves to equal educational opportunity for all, laws and policies are being imposed on schools that limit the ability of diligent teachers to use their professional judgment to further the personal development and welfare of their students.


There are strong pressures today to dehumanize, to depersonalize, to industrialize our schools. In the name of cost effectiveness, of efficiency, of system, of accountability, of minimal competency, of a return to the basics, schools are being turned into sterile, hostile institutions at war with the young people they are intended to serve.

As teachers we hereby declare ourselves to be in opposition to the industrialization of our schools. We pledge ourselves to become advocates on behalf of our students. We make the following declaration of professional conscience:

We will make the welfare of our students our most basic criterion for professional judgment.
We have no greater accountability than that we owe our pupils. We will work with parents and policymakers to formulate programs that are in the best interests of our pupils. We will work with the kids to personalize these programs. We will respect all learners. We will cherish their strengths, accept and strive to understand their language and culture, seek to further their personal values, tastes, and objectives. We will oppose methods, materials, and policies that have the intent or effect of rejecting the personal and social characteristics of our students. We will, in all matters, and in all interactions, deal with our pupils fairly, consistently, honestly, and compassionately.
We will do all we can to make school a warm, friendly, supportive place in which all pupils are welcome. Our classrooms will be theirs. We will provide guidance and leadership to support our students in the development of problem-solving, decision-making, and self-discipline. We will help them build a sense of respect and support for each other. We will help them appreciate and respect those who differ from them in culture, language, race, color, heritage, religion, sex, weight, height, physical strength or attractiveness, intelligence, interests, values, personal goals, or any other characteristics.

We will not use corporal punishment on pupils of any age for any offense.
We believe violence begets violence. We will not use marks or schoolwork as punishment. We will seek causes for problems and work with pupils to eliminate the causes of antisocial behavior rather than simply control the symptoms.
Neither will we use tangible, extrinsic rewards such as candy, prizes, money, tokens, or special privileges as a means of controlling behavior. We regard all institutionalized forms of behavior modification as immoral and unethical. We will work with pupils, building on intrinsic motivation in all areas of curriculum and development.
We will accept the responsibility of evaluating our pupils' growth. We will make no long- or short-range decisions that affect the future education of our pupils on the basis of a single examination no matter what the legal status of the examination. We will evaluate through ongoing monitoring of our pupils during our interactions with them. We will strive to know each pupil personally, using all available professional tools to increase our understanding of each and every one.
We are teachers. We are not actors following scripts. We are not technicians servicing an educational machine. We are not delivery systems. We are not police officers, babysitters, petty despots, card punchers, paper shufflers, book monitors. We are not replaceable by machines.
We are professionals. We have prepared ourselves for teaching by building knowledge of human development, human learning, pedagogy, curriculum, language, and cognition. We know the history of education. We know the competing philosophies of education. We have carefully built personal philosophies that provide us with criteria for making teaching decisions in the best interests of our pupils. We have a broad liberal education and an in-depth knowledge of the content areas in which we teach.
We will use our knowledge base to support our students in their own quest for knowledge. The real curriculum is what happens to each learner. We, as teachers, are the curriculum planners and facilitators. We will not yield that professional responsibility to the publishers of texts or management systems. We will select and use the best educational resources we can find, but we will not permit ourselves or our pupils to be controlled by them.

We will continually update our knowledge of education, of our fields of instruction, of the real world, because of our professional dedication to use all means to improve our effectiveness as teachers.
We expect school authorities to support us in our professionalism and self-improvement. And we will oppose all policies that restrict our professional authority to use new knowledge or new pedagogical practices on behalf of our students.
We believe that schools can well serve pupils, parents, and communities if the teachers in them function as responsible, dedicated, and compassionate professionals.

To that purpose we make this declaration of professional conscience.


Now thank you Ken Goodman, and thank you Richard Owen for offering it as a free download  PDF http://www.rcowen.com/rcoprfdv.htm

Sunday, October 31, 2010

So you say you want a revolution

We need parents, grandparents, retired teachers and working teachers, and we need our neighbors to organized, speak out, write, fax, attending board of education meetings, protesting, and we need as many people as we can get to come to the ...Save Our Schools rally and teach-in next July 30th and 31 in Washington DC.
I believe in transformative action. This is a form of civil disobedience advocate by the great American writer Henry David Thoreau who wrote and advocated a call to “Civil Disobedience" for citizens dealing with unjust laws and taxes. The Rev Doctor Martin Luther King used it to inspire and change a nation. Gandhi used it to win independence for India. It was use to break the South African system of apartheid. The Danish use it to fight back in World War II to resist the Nazis.
I am calling for a return to that American principle of civil disobedience, and work to change this unjust NCLB law that hurts children, parents, teachers, and our local schools. It hurts children, because it is limited. Think of NCLB’s assessment focus as being a family photo album only allowing for only photos of the children doing the same thing over and over again. Who wants a photo of the same picture over and over again? This is madness, and unfair.
To me this means the target is Washington DC the birthplace of NCLB, the only place where it can be changed. If we change it in Washington we change it everywhere in the land.
However, civil disobedience is not only about being against something it is about being for something better. We need to argue for a balanced and fair assessment framework not just say the testing is wrong. Washington DC has removed balance assessment from our schools by making standardized test the only unquestionable measures, and making these measures the key to all funding.
My vision of a balanced and thorough assessment framework views academic achievement as a photo album of performance over time. It includes many pictures of a child’s progress from multiple performance indicators. It includes the voices of children, parents, and teachers in that album. Yes, I think children and parents should have a say in what goes into that photo album of performance. I do not oppose standardized tests they are included as well, but they are weigh no heavier or lighter than other assessment inputs.
Lets start talking about what parents, teachers, and students think should be included in a balanced assessment framework?

I am walking to DC again Jesse, but this time I am bringing some friends.
Jesse

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What is lost under No Child Left Behind?



Well the battle against NCLB/RTTT continues, and I am still walking for change. Join me next July 30 and 31 for the Save Our Schools rally and teach-in at the American University in Washington DC. When you join the good fight you understand from the start that this is a life long fight. What better cause could I have then to make our leaders and policy makers understand that children are more than test scores, and so are their teachers.
Today I am going to evaluate the current education reform policies through the eyes of one of America's great thinkers from the "Greatest Generation" Mortimer J. Adler.

First and foremost in my humble opinion parents, teachers, and educators need to resist and fight these so-called education reform policies of NCLB!
As a man of conviction and strong faith I ask: What are Americans losing under the current education reforms of NCLB/RTTT? Readers be kind for today I am stepping outside my comfort zone.

Can we begin with an understanding that the current reforms promise that improvement of test scores will eliminate the achievement gap across race, special needs, poverty, urban, suburban, and rural communities. This model focuses on products, (test scores), and a system of rewards and punishments.  It does not provide equalizing resources, and therefore fails any measure of establishing equality in education. One could argue that NCLB/RTTT is actually rooted in Darwinism the strongest will survive.

I see no moral compass in the current reforms the reality is they are more of a swim or drown model of reform. The government is not here to assist your schools, but to police them by weeding out the weakest schools. NCLB/RTTT has no definition of what a well-educated person should be. They have numbers and standards, but no real definition of what being well-educated means. What we end up with is a public education system that defines a well-educated person as a passing test score. Conformity rules in this kind of model. We all take the same test, we are all fed the same curriculum, (something they are now seeking), we all read the same books, we all go to successful schools defined by high test scores. My god George Orwell, (author of 1984) couldn't have written this reform agenda any better.

This policy leaves me wondering where Mortimer J. Adler would stand on the notion of the current No Child Left Behind/Race To The Top policy? I grew up watching Mortimer on PBS television discussing the Great Books, and I remember taking them out of the library to read. They made me the man I am today. It was reading those books that called me to teaching, and those books that call me to this fight. 

Where are Mortimer’s six great ideas embedded within the current education reforms? Those six great ideas are (1) Truth, (2) Goodness,  (3) Beauty, (4) Liberty (5) Equality and (6) Justice.

I think Dr. Mortimer would question any educational reform model that allows competition to drive reform rather than by providing the means to make all schools good, just, and equal. He would not accept a model that in essence tells parents, teachers, and their schools swim, sink or close.

No Child Left Behind/Race To The Top fails Mortimer’s to meet any of Mortimer’s six-great ideas.

1. Truth: The Department of Education claims that parents have a choice of schools. One might say Mortimer would argue any choice based on a lottery is not much of a choice, but more a luck of the draw. There are only extremely limited choices for parents under this reform policy. NCLB/RTTT fails the truth test!

2. Goodness: The Department of Education insists that a business model based on competition is good for America. Mortimer would argue there is no goodness in a system that abandons public schools not making adequate yearly progress. He would insist the Department of Education should actively help schools make adequate yearly progress. NCLB/RTTT fails the goodness test.

3. Beauty: One could ask does a Department of Education reform model based on competition have beauty? Mortimer might argue rather than beauty the current education reforms place test scores in reading, writing, and math above art and music. After all the focus of NCLB is on only certain test scores. If you don’t test it do you need to really need to teach it? What happens if your school decides to eliminate art and music to focus on reading, writing, and math? Well there are no punitive measures in NCLB/RTTT for eliminating art and music, or for that matter physical education, history, geography, and science. Many schools have eliminated or reduce instruction time spent on art, music, phyiscal education, history, geography, and even science. The Department of Education loves to mention these other subjects, and often shows photo opts of children signing and dancing at charter schools, but have no punitive measures for schools that chose to eliminate or reduce any of the above subject other than reading, writing, and math. NCLB/RTTT fails the beauty test!

4. Liberty: The current Department of Education reform policies focus on policing, rewarding some schools and punishing others who do not measure up based on standardized test results. For Mortimer the major focus of education is preparation for the duties of living in freedom. He said: “Education for freedom cannot itself be instituted until the educators understand the principles of freedom, until they realize that freedom is not an end in itself, but a consequence of justice, and an affair of rights and duties.”  Mortimer only has to look to the professional development component of NCLB/RTTTNCLB/RTTT fails the liberty test!

 5. Equality: The Department of Education insists that an emphasis on standardized testing will weed out bad schools. Mortimer would argue standardized testing is too narrow to develop thinkers and citizens who will be responsible for the future of democracy. Mortimer said "In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you." To Mortimer the man behind “The Great Books” movement the numerical measures of facts learned from books misses the point that some books change us for the better. Any education reform that does not make serious attempts at providing all schools with equitable resources is unjust. NCLB/RTTT fails the equality test!

6. Justice: This test is a simple. Does a law merely named No Child Left Behind that leaves millions of children behind really just? This one I am certain Dr. Mortimer would insist fails the justice test completely. Telling parents justice is coming is justice for some, and justice denied for others.  Justice administered by lottery is no more than justice denied. NCLB/RTTT fails the justice test! 

Returning to my original question about: What are Americans losing under the current education reforms of NCLB/RTTT?
In 1940, (still in print) Dr. Mortimer wrote “How to read a book”. He said, "A good book can teach you about the world and about yourself. You learn more than how to read better; you also learn more about life. You become wiser. Not just more knowledgeable - books that provide nothing but information can produce that result. But wiser, in the sense that you are more deeply aware of the great and enduring truths of human life."

When education reform focuses solely on standardized testing books become isolated information that may or may not produce higher test scores. I said may or may not because after nearly a decade there is no real data to suggest the current reforms have produce higher test scores. While you may be learn to read you may not learn how to read a book from Dr. Mortimer's point of view. What are we losing? We are losing the opportunity to focus on making future generation deeply aware of the great truths of human life.

Silence and apathy are not acceptable when it comes to America’s children.
I am walking to DC again,
Jesse
 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Another parent phone call


I had a call last night from a mother of Eddie a 7-year old boy whose son is not reading at his DRA benchmark. She explained Eddie has been coming home crying almost every day this year. Dr. Turner he has to read for 30 minutes every night, and he cries the whole time. After he goes to sleep I cry. He cries, because he hates reading now. We use to read together for hours every night. Then somewhere in the middle of first grade it became a chore. Everything changed last spring. Now I cry, because reading breaks my boy’s heart. You can’t do anything in life if you can’t read. I think he could catch up, but they need to give a rest from all this testing first.
Next she told me his friend show him his DRA score on the wall of the faculty/parents meeting room. So the other boy tells him you S__k in reading, and they are going to leave you back this year.  Look you are the worst boy in our class. You are so stupid Eddie.
Well, he decided to punch, kick, and bite that other 7-year old boy, and so his mother was called into school. Well they suggested anger management for her son. She certainly does not endorse his behavior she explains, and indicates she will work on his anger problem. She explains this reading issue has totally demoralized him, and now it looks like it is demonizing him as well. Now his mother wanted to discuss why his scores are up on the wall for public viewing. She wanted to discuss how weeks of reading testing is adding to his dislike of reading. However, none of this would be discussed at the meeting. She tried, but was told we are not here to talk about his reading today. We are here to discuss his behavior. So Eddie’s mother leaves, and drives home in tears.
We talk for over an hour I calm her down, and say bring him to the Literacy Center in the spring we’ll work on his reading. Later on that evening I shed a few tears of my own, because this stuff doesn’t ever seem to end under NCLB. I remember another time, when 6-year olds and 7-year olds use to be allowed to have a childhood. There was a time when our Children were more than test scores, and certainly more than data on a school wall.  
This is madness, this is wrong, who are these people who are doing this to our children.  Do they really believe all this testing is making children enjoy reading? At Eddie’s school last year they spent nearly 12 weeks on testing, or practicing for their test. Come on people he was six years old old!
We need a revolution against this assault on childhood. This won’t stop until our policy makers and politicians hear from us that “Children are more than test scores.”  I am going to the “Save Our Schools” March in Washington DC next July 30th and 31.  Silence and apathy are not acceptable.
I am walking to DC again,
Jesse

Monday, October 18, 2010

Time to start blogging about my journey again.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/07/AR2010100705078.html
So the so called savoirs of public schools have come to save us! How to fix our schools: A manifesto by Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee and other education leaders.

For me it has always come down to a law, (NCLB) that lacked any moral compass from the start. The sole indicators to measure academic success under NCLB are test scores on standardized measures.
In some bizarre manner NCLB claimed to be focused on closing the achievement gap while effectively taking the focus off equity issues, and shifted the focus to outcomes on standardized testing as public schooling savoir. Policy makers, politicians, and many of our educational leadership are no longer focused on issues of race, poverty, and those “Savage inequalities that Jonathon Kozal so effectively wrote about. Testing is seen as the means to ending inequality. So rather than deal with the real issues leadership points fingers of blame to everyone, but themselves.
This lack of any moral compass is what moved me outside my academic role into the arena of activism. This past summer I walked 400 miles in 40 days as part of protest against NCLB/RTTT. I started walking in Connecticut, and ended my walk in Washington DC at the American University. Along the way I met with parents, teachers, administrators, authors, and community members. Not one person along the way felt the current education reform policy is having a positive effect on learning and teaching in their local schools. Educators reported that up to 3-months of the school year is being spent on testing. Testing is not teaching, and this merely results in a major loss of instructional time. Parents reported the pressures of all this testing is increasingly resulting in children who no longer like school. This is why I will return to Washington DC next July 30 & 31 2011 to participate in the SOS Million Teachers March and Teach-in at the American University. I am asking a nation of parents, teachers, and activists to join me in a one million miles protest walk. People can walk, ride, or skateboard, in preparation for next July rally and teach-in. I need 2000 people to walk 500 over the next 8 months. People can email me their weekly totals for posting on our facebook page "Children Are More Than Test Scores". 
Take a stand against this insane reform policy join us in the resistance to the mental slavery of NCLB/RTTT 
Sincerely,
Dr. Jesse Turner
Creator of the facebook group Children Are More Than Test Scores.
PS: For a critical response to their manifesto read Professor Kevin Weiner's piece "Manifesto should be resignation letter.

In the meantime I am walking a million miles to protest this madness called NCLB.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

June 18, 2010 Walking from Hamden to New Haven CT

Good newsreaders. We are on the radar.

1. Michael Strickland wrote on the walk: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/6/17/877020/-Children-are-more-than-test-scores
2. Helen Ubines wrote about the walk in the Hartford Courant and the Chicago Tribune: http://www.courant.com/community/hartford/hc-ubinas-blog-schoolreform0616-20100616,0,2318944.column
3. Children are more than test scores made it to the Washington Post via Valerie Strauss list of groups opposing NCLB/RTTT.
4. Dr. Stephen Krashen, Dr. Jong Zhao, and Richard Larkin twitter updates about the walk.
5. Susan Ohanian put us on her Yahoo Good News page again.
6. 20 more ribbons arrive this week from East Hartford Connecticut, (they came from a teacher in a group of teachers I spoke to about my walk last week).
7. That is Dean Mitchell Sakofs from the School of Education and Professional Studies at Central Connecticut State University in the above picture. He offered great advice and some tech tools to help me out as well.

A quote for thought: President Theodore Roosevelt said: "To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society."
Two Hartford Connecticut voices from the history classroom:
Last week I met two extremely talented middle school history teachers. The first one a young man named Dan a newly tenured teacher from the University of Connecticut  just left his tenured position in the Hartford Public Schools to teach in a suburban district. He said he was leaving, "because they were not letting him teach history. The first year I started off teaching history, and loved it, and my students enjoyed learning about history.  By the end of my second year I was told to stop teaching history, and start teaching writing. The focus shifted to preparing them for the CMTs, (state mastery tests). My students hated it, and so did I. I left to teach history. Kids need to learn history. "

The Roman historian Cicero :” History is the witness that testifies to the passing of time; it illuminates reality, vitalizes memory, provides guidance in daily life, and brings us tidings of antiquity.”
Something is wrong with a middle school that passes over history to work on preparing for mastery testing.

The other middle school history teacher is from one of Hartford's Magnet Schools. He teaches history as a special these days. "In the past Dr. Turner all our students had social studies every year five days a week, the sixth graders learned geography, seventh graders learned world history, and eight graders learned US history all year long. Now with the focus on keeping test scores things have changed. History is not on the test. So two history teachers were let go, and I teach 40 minute hit and run history lessons." He said students may or may not get history. Even when they do it is so condense it makes no sense. "It is a shame, a real shame on America."


Not a shame on America, but a shame on Washington DC. I am perplexed by these NCLB/RTTT reform policies.  Does anyone in Washington understand the impact of their reforms on local schools?  Let me be the first to tell it like it is, if it is not on the test children don't get it...Civics gone and citizenship gone sacrificed to preparing for the test.

Winston Churchill said: "The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see." A nation without history in its public schools is doomed to fail. There are things more important than Secretary Arne Duncan's data. History is one of them.

My whispered prayer today is that Washington DC's Educational leadership returns to sanity. They need to understand Children are more than test scores. History is a corner stone of public education. A corner stone too big to measured on some bubble sheet. Alexis de Tocqueville wrote: "When the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness."   I am walking to DC, because I refuse to live in darkness.

Helen Ubines wrote about the walk in the Hartford Courant and the Chicago Tribune: http://www.courant.com/community/hartford/hc-ubinas-blog-schoolreform0616-20100616,0,2318944.column

Children are more than test scores made it to the Washington Post via Valerie Strauss list of groups opposing NCLB/RTTT. http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/education-secretary-duncan/arne-duncans-opposition-a-part.html?wprss=answer-sheet

Michael Strickland wrote on the walk: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/6/17/877020/-Children-are-more-than-test-scores

Susan Ohanian put us on her Yahoo Good News page again: http://susanohanian.org/show_yahoo.php?id=557

Dr. Stephen Krashen, Dr. Yong Zhao, and Richard Lakin twitter updates about the walk to DC regularly.

Who knows maybe our next stop will be on CNN.
I am walking to DC,
Jesse





Monday, June 14, 2010

A litte before and after picture comparisons for readers. What a difference a year makes. My wife who is a teacher has been walking with me as well. We love this protest walking stuff.
That is June 2009, and this is June 2010.
 So readers walking for what you believe is healthy stuff. Go for it, and remember Children are more than test scores. If anyone between Connecticut and DC would like to share a cup of coffee during my walk to DC let me know?
I am walking to DC,
Jesse
I am walking to DC

My Creative protest walking to DC on June 11, 2010 my birthday.


This is my Grand Nephew, and like all children he was born so much more than a test score. One can only wonder what kind of fools would reduce children to mere numbers on a test.  

Dr. Martin Luther King wrote in his autobiography: “I became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. No other person has been more eloquent and passionate in getting this idea across than Henry David Thoreau. As a result of his writings and personal witness, we are the heirs of a legacy of creative protest."

I am called to walking as my creative protest. Dr. King’s legacy of service compels me to walk.  I imagine the first time Martin heard James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Every voice and sing”. I try to live in Martin’s steps today. His shoes are of course much too big for me. I took his American history lesson with me on my walk today. Principal Johnson’s poem "Lift Every Voice and Sing" was publicly performed first as a poem, as part of a celebration of Lincoln's Birthday on February 12, 1900 by 500 school children at the segregated Stanton School. In 1919 it would be set to music, and the NAACP adopted the song as "The Negro National Anthem." Principal, James Weldon Johnson, wrote the words to introduce its honored guest Booker T. Washington.
The song provided Dr. King and a nation of African Americans with hope for the future, and pride in their struggle for equality. While walking today from Meriden to North Haven Connecticut Principal James Weldon Johnson’s words gave me strength and filled me with hope as well. There is something powerful about walking, reflecting, and singing that empowers a person. It is no coincidence that the first public reading began with the voices of 500 children. If you open your hearts, and close your eyes you can hear the children singing:
“Lift every voice and sing,
'Til earth and heaven ring,
 Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
 Let our rejoicing rise
 High as the listening skies,
 Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.       
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on 'til victory is won.”
Today my whispered prayer is for 500 voices singing Principal’s Johnson’s poem whenI arrive in Washington DC on Labor Day.

While reflecting on our government’s obsession with testing, I also reflected on The U.S. Department of Justice 2009 Children’s Exposure to Violence: A Comprehensive National Survey Reported that on Physical Assault Nearly one-half (46.3 percent) of all the children surveyed were physically assaulted within the previous year, and more than one-half (56.7 percent) had been assaulted during their lifetime. I find my self-wondering why our nation’s leaders see standardized testing as the our nation’s number one problem, and not violence? Am I the only one who sees the disconnect here?

On the road this morning. While walking in Meriden I came upon an elderly women walking with a cane. The path was small so I walked off to the side to give her a free path. She smiled, and said: What a good-looking young man you make walking. I said thank you for the complement. She said it is so nice to see people walking to get healthy.  I said my name is Jesse I am walking to DC to protest all the tests children are taking in schools. Well, she just looks at me, and said WHAT!  All the way to DC? In the next few minutes I discover her name is Sharon she is 73 years old, and a retired teacher. She tells me she can’t drive anymore so she walks. She said I have lost over 100 pounds. I smile, and told her that beats my 48 pounds I lost preparing for my walk.  Next she said: Already married I suppose?
The good ones are always taken. Before I leave she tells me "those test were stupid when I taught, and they are still stupid today"
Sharon is the first person I have talked to on the road while walking. Remember I begin my walks at 6:AM to beat the traffic and heat. Not many people out that early. I loved our little talk. Usually it's me, and the morning chorus of birds singing, and the passing cars just rolling along.

About an hour later in Wallingford I pass a beautiful little trailer park.  It really is beautiful, well kept with nice small gardens outside many homes. I see another elderly women with a child outside waiting for the school bus. While passing them the little girl said: “Nice walking stick mister”. I reply "thank you I am walking to DC" Well Grandma’s face lights up, saying” All the way to DC…You must be kidding?”  In less than a minute I explain my protest walk to DC. Grandma tells me she is raising her granddaughter. Her daughter and her husband have addiction problems. Then she tells me when her granddaughter was in the third grade she came home one day angry, so I asked her "what did you do in school today? She is such a sweet girl, and always tells me something nice, but this day she just puffs up, and doesn’t say a word. I pressed again, and the next thing I know is she is crying. She starts saying I am stupid, I can’t do these tests. Well I said you are not stupid those tests are stupid…When you get to Washington DC you tell those people the test are stupid not our children"

Walking along I think yes it is stupid for our nation to spend billions of our tax dollars on more testing when over half of or children report being the victims of violence. We can't afford to let Washington DC educational plicy dictate what happens in our public schools any longer. They just don't get it, and neither does our national media!
When was the last time the national press walked America's roads, and stop to talk to everyday people about No child Left Behind/Race To The Top? 
We need to stand up, speak up, walk, write, and email our policy makers and politicians to stop their foolishness.
Dr. Martin Luther King said: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” 
I hear you Martin, and I promise I will not be silent about things that matter.
I am walking to DC,
Jesse

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

6/8/10 Meeting with classroom teachers and pre-service teachers

Tuesday June 8, 2010 walking to DC news

I have mapped out the next 10 miles for this Friday morning’s walk.   I have also been corresponding with a few people who are interested in walking with me in Connecticut. We are working out the details, and a couple of people will definitely do some of the walking with me in Connecticut.  When they join me I’ll let you all know.
There are others who just want to meet with me to hear about the walk to DC.
Tonight I met with 12 teachers and a few education students at Central Connecticut State University in an Introduction to Special Education course.  The walking man was their guest speaker tonight:-)

It is never easy for me to tell people about this walking to Washington DC project. Personally I have been advocating for a balanced assessment model for many years. My view includes multiple forms of assessment, informal, formal, performance based assessments, and learner inputs. I see assessment as a portfolio rather than sets of isolated data. I have been struggling with NCLB, because it over looks informal assessments lacks real teacher input, and it’s over reliance on standardized assessments.
The problem with explaining to people where walking to DC began is? Really where should I start?

Well today I worked my way backwards. I began with our facebook group “Children are more than test scores.”  Besides 6171 members is impressive to people.  I worked my back to day one when I thought I was alone, and worried people might think I was crazy.  I shared how inspired I am by the comments people leave on our wall on Children are more than test scores. I love to point out that our numbers keep growing as well.  I show them the walking stick Georgia Hedrick made for my walk to DC. My tired feet needed it walking miles ten and eleven last Friday. Thank you Georgia.
I always share a few stories from parents and teachers who have shared with me about the negative impacts of the NCLB legislation. You know the stuff that never makes the evening news.
One teacher in the audience shared her story as well. She explained how overwhelming teaching has become tracking all the required data. A teacher's day begins long before the first student enters the room. 

However the highlight of my day was the package in the mail I picked up on my way to tonight’s talk. It came from Kim Weaver a member of our group on facebook from California.  I waited to open it until my meeting, because I knew Kim was sending me some ribbons for our walking stick. You can see it in the first day’s walk video.
While it appeared I was walking alone in the video, people should know I am never alone. 
Last Friday John Foshay was always down the road keeping an eye on me, and videoing portions of the walk for our facebook page. Calling out words of encouragement along the way. Always ready if needed.
I had Georgia’s Hedrick a retired teacher,  (37 years in the classroom) from Nevada, and her muti-colored ribbon with me every step of the way.
 I waited to open Kim’s package, because I wanted this audience to know I am not alone on this walk. If people can’t actually walk with me they can do other things besides walking, like send me ribbons.
I need heroes on this walk, and my heroes last Friday were John Foshay and Georgia Hedrick. I am never alone on the road.You see I always walk with my heroes.
My heroes this Friday will be Abigail, Gracie, and their mother Kim Weaver whose ribbons are next to Georgia’s.  I tied their ribbons on my walking stick right there. I am posting a few photos for members to see.
I also gave my audience a handout with six things they could do to help with the walk, or speak out against NCLB/RTTT policies. (I'll post them here as well in the morning).

Today’s audience was extremely receptive, ask great questions, and share their own stories. I think I may have pick up a few volunteer walkers tonight.  They also gave a tremendous round of applause when it was over. This is not the story of a crazy man walking to DC, but the story of a tidal wave building.
I am walking to DC,
Jesse

Monday, June 7, 2010

Day number 1 Walking to DC the first 11 miles


As Henry David Thoreau, American author, poet, naturalist, tax resister, surveyor, historian, and philosopher said, quote “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away”.

From my perspective I can hear Henry say “walk on Jesse, don’t be afraid to walk to the beat of your own drum”. Thus it was, this past Friday June 4, 2010 at 6:30 am as my walk to D. C. officially began. There were no brass bands, no chorus singers, or cheers leaders this morning. If it weren’t for my good friend John Foshay and our very own Facebook group “Children Are More Than Test Scores” these first steps would have surely gone unnoticed. Never the less the lord gifted me with a stunning sun filled morning, full of sweet cool breezes to guide my walking journey on day one.

Armed with Georgia Hedrick’s walking stick, my iPod full of good music, and a heart full of hope I walked my first 11.1 miles through New Britain, Kensington, Berlin, all the way to Meriden Connecticut.

Martin Luther King Drive. As I passed the small figurehead of Dr. King, I repeated some of the words of his “I have a dream speech” and I somehow felt connected to our nation’s struggle for civil rights. I don’t need a genie to tell me Dr. King understood that America’s public schools are more about morality, Justus, and hope than numbers on standardized bubble sheets. I know he too would be next to Henry David Thoreau saying “Walk Jesse walk”.  I felt empowered by their lives.

Soon I found myself on Chestnut Street outside the old South Congregational - First Baptist Church, where two years ago I attended the funeral of Dr. Justus Beach who had just passed at the ripe old age of 87.  He was an outstanding grandfather, father, professor, and friend of mine at Central Connecticut State University. As I passed the church, I offered a prayer of thanks for having had the honor of working with Justus on our Reading and Language Arts Advisory Board. What kind of person was he? Well in 2000 a retired Professor Beach had graciously provided scholarship funding for students from economically and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds enrolled in the University's Teacher Preparation Programs. CCSU Students to this day still benefit from his gift. There is no doubt in my mind that Justus too, would understand my walk, and would cheer me onward. Rest in peace, my old friend, rest in peace.

I continued with whispered prayers as I walked up around Arch Street reflecting on the challenge ahead. In my humble opinion our politicians, policy makers, and educational leaders appear determined to undermine our very system of public education in America. Their policy pits magnet schools, charter schools, and local schools against each other. Shouldn’t all public schools be on the same team? When was the last time you heard Secretary Arne Duncan say something positive about a local school?
They just don’t seem to understand you can’t win our minds until you win our hearts. We don’t need a race we need unifying. No one is going to win our hearts with calls for more testing Mr. Secretary. From the very beginning I have been opposed to the No Child Left Behind legislation, and have been fighting it all along. NCLB allocated one trillion dollars to close the achievement gap. We could have hired an army of tutors to actually help child who struggle with math and literacy, but instead we skipped the tutors, and went with testing, new standards, and new curriculums. What is the return on these educational reforms? Well according to Washington’s own data we have little or no effect on closing the achievement gap. Surely eight years of little or no effect means a change in policy.
I had such high hopes for change with the election of President Barack Obama, but sadly have found that Race To The Top is a continuation of the same old failed policy. Fighting this insane educational reform policy is like hitting your head against a brick wall. No one in Washington appears to care what parents, teachers, and children think about the impact of all this testing has on children.  It was actually a prayer that started me thinking about this walk last November.  I was thinking about how Moses fled across the Red Sea to Midian where he tended the flocks of Jethro, and how he walked all the way back to Egypt. The whole world remembers the story of Moses saying to mighty Pharaoh “Let my people go”.  It was walking and faith that took the Hebrews to the Promise Land. I find strength in prayer, I find courage in my faith, and I find hope in walking.

As I walked through parts of Kensington and Berlin, on Connecticut Route 71A and onto Chamberlain Highway I was listening to some good music, a little country, some Bob Marley, and 11.1 miles later I arrived at West Main Street in Meriden, just as Merle Haggard finished singing one of my favorite spirituals “He walks with me”.
It had taken me roughly three hours, and there he was, John with a cold bottle of water, and a big smile. Whew… 11.1 miles down, and nearly 400 to go, but who is counting I am walking to DC on the old colonial road.

First Meet up Day 1:

At lunch I met with Mrs. Donna Morin.  Donna is a special education and reading teacher at Pulaski Middle School in New Britain. We have known each other for over 10 years, but have not seen each other for the past three. Like all old friends we caught up on family and friends rather quickly. Next Donna shared her past year’s experience as the President of American Legion Department of Connecticut Women’s Auxiliary.  Then I shared my crazy idea about walking to Washington DC to protest NCLB/RTTT. She talked about the impact NCLB/RTTT has had on the children she teaches. Donna was a panelist on our 2003 Children Are More Than a Test Score Conference, at CCSU. Like I said before I have been fighting this misguided policy for a number of years. In 2003 Donna elegantly explained to the audience how the growth of learning is overlooked by standardized tests.  She told me how after 36 years of teaching, she was for the first time feeling lost. We talked about one of my favorite students “Tyler’ who also happens to be one of her students this year.  Tyler is one of the most amazing adolescents who just happens to have Asperger’s syndrome. He lights up any classroom and brings a smile everywhere he goes. Tyler is a gift not a test score.
Donna mentioned how Tyler had told her that I would be walking this Sunday with his team at UCONN’s Rentschler Field for Autism Speaks.  We did what many teachers do when discussing the insanity of NCLB we shared coffee, needed hugs, resistance stories, and left each other feeling a little helpless.

So what exactly does all my walking and meeting with parents and teachers accomplish Jesse?  When I returned to my office to check my mail there was one from Donna, I’ve already told her I would use it here… here goes,
“Dear Jesse,
 I can't begin to tell you how wonderful it was to see you today!  You are a tribute to teachers, parents and students everywhere.
Thank you for restoring the hope that I need to have to see our profession once again meeting the needs of students.   I have become very disillusioned in the past few years while watching what education has become: nationally, district-wise and in our own school building, as well.  I began to question my role as a teacher and wondered if I had "overstayed my welcome" in my career.
I love teaching, as you know, it is more than just my career, it has become whole once again, I am re-energized to go forward and not give up, thanks to the discussion that we had today.  Thank you for that, Dear Friend.  Even Walt noticed a difference when I came home.  He said, "You must have had a good day today!!"  I told him it was one of the best days of the year!!
I anxiously look forward to your next visit next.
Fondly,
Donna”
The funny thing is, I felt the very same after our talk. I am energized, and ready to walk to DC. What does walking and talking accomplish? It energizes us, and offers us hope. While I am no Moses, no Dr. King, no Henry David Thoreau, no Justus Beach, I am Jesse, I can be one man doing something to try to change the world. 
I began with Henry David Thoreau, and it is only fitting I end with his words “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them."
I am walking to DC,
Jesse
PS Readers if you are really restless you can also view a three minute movie of my day one walk on Facebook's Children are more than test scores group page. As Tiny Tim said "God bless everyone"

Friday, April 2, 2010

Walking to DC, Catching my breath March 30 to April 2.


Well some 4000 members later even I can say "Children are more than test scores" is growing, and it does not look like it is slowing down. I am of course walking away as always.


The news is tough out there. In Florida they are trying to tie teacher's pay and tenure to test scores. Then there is the story about the Irish teenager living in Massachusetts that committed suicide because she was being bullied. This story more than anything else demonstrates the fallacy behind NCLB/RTTT the top in my opinion.


A focus on test scores does make our children good neighbors, good friends, good citizens, or ethical and moral adults. Actually I imagine all those boy and girls on Wall Street whose greed nearly broke our banks had great test scores. However, truth, honesty, and integrity were not part of the test they needed to pass. In these areas they were lacking, and the American Tax payers had to foot the bill.



So our teenagers bully a new student to the point that she takes her own life.


Not a sound from the White House.


Not a sound from United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan!


Not a sound from Arne Duncan the man who had his own VIP list for the rich and powerful in Chicago who wanted their children placed into Chicago's top schools!


Not a sound!


Well Dear Lord this is Jesse Patrick Turner, and today my Whispered prayers are with Phoebe Prince the teenage who took her own life as a result of bullies. Please Lord hold her in your arms for us, and ease her pain.  Comfort her family and her friends as well.


And yes forgive her administrators who did not do their job. Their job was to protect a young 15 year-old girl whose parents thought America's schools were places where children are more than test scores.


Help us to see the bigger picture on this Good Friday? Help our policy makers and politicians understand that they can’t test what really counts? Integrity, honesty, and honor are not on their tests.


My music on my walks lately is all spiritual, still listening to “He Walks with Me” and Julie Collins version of “Amazing Grace”.  Love John Michael Talbot's " Here I am, lord"and Leela James's "A change is gonna come" lifts me all the time.

I am also praying as I walk, and I am walking 8 miles a day since 3/31/10. I feel compelled to push the distance this week. Walking keeps me focused on the road ahead.  The world needs changing, and I need walking, and somehow my faith tells me it will all come together.

I am walking to DC,

Jesse