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Friday, July 24, 2015

3 miles and five stones

Three miles from DC, three miles to turn this candle into a fire of humanity that takes back childhood for 53 million children being abused by the inhumane policies of test and punish. I have been on this road long enough that my every dream is of home, my wife, and my daughter. Three miles to go, three miles until these legs can rest.
How could I be silence?
How could I be apathetic?
How could I watch one more childhood be stolen?
How could I let hopelessness steal my soul?
Let it be known I am a warrior for hope?
Let it be known I am tireless?
Sunday Adelaja said: “You cannot possess your Promised Land without a battle.”
Tell it on every street corner, say it in every valley, ring every bell, and shout it from every mountaintop...
One man walking in the name of love to DC.
This warrior sees:
A promise land,
A place where humanity, love and hope drive childhood,
Tell everyone the candle is the fire, and the fire start spreading today,
I am gathering the shepherds,
Pick up your Goliath stones,
Be ready for the long walk to victory,
Remember July 24, 2015 as the day of calling,
Know that victory is promised,
Know that the price is paid,
Thus begins our year of battles,
But, we shall see that promise land of humanity for our children, parents, their teachers, and our public schools.
Today I am calling all good shepherds,
Remember this:
David took 5 stones in case he missed a few times.
The lesson of five stones from this is David had faith, but the battle might might be long, there will be some ups and downs,
But victory is promised.
Today I bring the promise,
Victory is coming,
Three miles and five stones to DC,

If you want to know what song this Walking Man put on repeat for the last three miles into DC? ...It's Bruce Springsteen's "Rocky Ground"The 2012 Boston Fenway Park version, because I was there...

Monday, July 20, 2015

Praise and blessings too all you beautiful hallelujahs

Some of us look for a hero. Some of us spend a lifetime waiting for that hero. It's a worthy search, but it can leave us so very empty.
Are we not all the hero we have been waiting for our entire lives?
Do we not know what what we want our hero to stand for?
Do we not know who we want our hero to battle?
What if it's not one hero?
What if it's many?
What if it's you, me, and an army of others?
What if all we had to do, is stand up together?
In Dante's Inferno we find Dante Alihieri's words:
"And I — my head oppressed by horror — said:

"Master, what is it that I hear? Who are

those people so defeated by their pain?"

      And he to me: "This miserable way

is taken by the sorry souls of those

who lived without disgrace and without praise.

      They now commingle with the coward angels,

the company of those who were not rebels

nor faithful to their God, but stood apart.

      The heavens, that their beauty not be lessened,

have cast them out, nor will deep Hell receive them —

even the wicked cannot glory in them.”

There is no greater sin than to live a life of indifference, " a life without disgrace or praise. If our lives are consumed by Kim Kardasian(s) and ESPN while:
Hunger strives,
Poverty strives,
Injustice strives,
Disease strives,
While we live lives of silence and apathy then even Hell will not welcome us.

I am not one man walking who loves and feels empowered by my fellow brothers and sisters who understand there is not need to wait for we are the heroes we have waited for our entire lives.

Today I dedicate my steps in this walk to DC to
Every BAT,
Every Opt Out Parent,
Every SOSer,
Every student who Opts Out,
Every student who walks out,
Every rank and file union member who seeks social justice as well as a fair wage.
Ring every bell,
Tell it on every street corner,
Shout it from every mountaintop,
You are the one we have all been waiting for!

On this walk to DC I have found believers, fighters at every step who lives reject apathy and silence.
I did not find a single hero, but I have discovered an army of shepherds.
All armed with sling shots and with stones of David ready to defend our children, our teachers, and our public schools.

In other words I did not find my hero.
But I have found:
Our Hallelujahs,
Our inspiration,
Our hope for change living, walking and breathing in this world in you.
In you my brothers and sisters I find shepherds willing to resist the madness that reduces our children to data and profits.

So to the powerful, the wealthy, and the connected I say remember these 4 words written in the sciptures?

"Wo to the wicked"

Praise and blessings to all you beautiful hallelujahs,

Less than 30 miles to DC,


If you like to know what this walking man is listening to on his walk to DC's Barry Lane Hallalujah from the 2011 Save Our Schools March in DC..

Friday, July 17, 2015

2016 WORD: The most potent weapon people have is not in Washington DC. It's the ballot, and the ballot belongs to the people!

People keep talking about what's missing from the debate on reauthorizing ESEA (NCLB).
All I think is who is missing?
First in my blog tonight I have decided to share just a few images of the people I have met walking to DC. There are too far too many to share. You should know people of all colors, all faiths, and all political affiliations have come to share their stories of testing and punish pain. I want you to see how beautiful they are. This is the America CNN, MNBC and FOX never see, never put on the airways, this is the America mainstream media knows nothing about.
Second, at the end I want to share my analysis of the scam ESEA debates going on in our nation's capital. I want to lay out a simple truth about how to take our government back.
Readers I would love to hear you thoughts.

A simple truth, this is our nation. It's a government for the people by the people. These are our public schools, and they are not for sale. High stakes testing in our K-12 schools has to end. The time for test and punish is over. 
William J. Barber, II, Moral Mondays Leader and President of North Carolina's NAACP said: "We don’t send our kids to school to become skilled test takers... wrote in an op-ed in the Hill. "We pay our taxes and send our kids to public schools because we need future corporate CEOs, cardiologists and aerodynamic engineers, university presidents and school principals, urban planners and architects. Our sons and daughters can’t reach these heights when accountability in our education system hinges on standardized test scores, not cultivating intellectual opportunity."
Rev Barber gets it, Washington DC doesn't.
People say to me, Walking Man have you contacted mainstream media about your historic walk?
Yes I have reached out.  Let me be perfectly honest I do not expect them to come rushing to cover this walk against abusive high stakes testing in our public schools. I have come to see them as part of the problem, and in the service of the test and punish lobbyists. After all who are their sponsors?
We don't need to reach out to them. If we want them to pay attention then we should:
1. Start boycotting their sponsors.
2. Start protesting outside their studios.
3. Start asking your cable/dish companies to drop their news channels.

People always ask me, have you reached out to the Democratic party about your walk?
I have reached out to both political parties. Again to be perfectly honest I do not expect politicians to wean themselves from the massive test and punish political donation money tree. We don't need to reach out to them. We need to remind them we are their boss! If we want them to pay attention then we should:
1. Stop giving them political donations.
2. Start protesting outside their local offices.
3. Stop your party line, and start voting your conscience.

I am not walking for our Mass Media,
I am not walking for politicians,
I am walking for our nation's children,
I am walking for our nation's teachers,
I am walking for our nation's public schools.

I am walking, not begging to be noticed by the wealthy, the powerful, or the connected.
I am walking, because our nation's children, their parents, their teachers, and their public schools are suffering an injustice endless testing and punishment.
Trust me no one in Washington is listening.
I have heard children, parents and teachers crying.
I have offered a shoulder to lean on.
I have listened deeply to their truths.
I am delivering one message only at every stop at this point of my walk.

You are the ones we have been waiting for,
You are the heroes who can save our children,
You hold the most potent weapon in the history of any democracy!
You hold the ballot box!
That ballot box is our most powerful weapon, and it can change things on any given election day.
You are the people,
You are the power that gives power to every leader,
All you need to remember is, this is a government for the people by the people.

So I am no longer reaching out to the Mainstream media.
If we want their attention we must occupy our streets, our courts, and our schools. The key word here is "OUR" that's right these places belong to the people not them.
I am no longer reaching out to Political Parties.
Truth be told if we want their attention then we must use the ballot box.

I have listened, read and followed these sham discussions and debates about NCLB and reauthorizing ESEA act.
Listening to them on C-SPAN daily, I become convinced that these men and women represent not the people, but the lobbyist of the test and punish industry.

They have not heard the testimonies of:
Our children,
Our parents,
or our teachers,

My message is system is broken in Washington.
My message is the system is unjust.
My message is these elected officials have forgotten who they work for.
My message is ballot matters!
My message is we need to rally the people to our nation's capital in massive numbers.
My message is we need to be in their face at every turn.
We need Washington to understand the scam is over.

It's time to take the people's government back.
It's time to remind these elected officials we put them there, and we can kick them out.
In 2016 it's No Justice! No Votes!

If you like to know what I am listening to on my next 10 miles in the morning. It's Mankana's "We are the many, you are the few"

I owe no alliance to any political party. No Justice! No Votes in 2016

Reflecting on yesterday's sell out in the Senate by Democrats to the keep on testing and punish lobbyists I find myself determined to take back our government from these money changers occuying our political parties.
The truth is I have never looked to Washington DC, our governor's mansions for moral leadership, or mainstream media for moral leadership. There is a price paid to enter their elite circles. The price they pay for power, wealth, and fame is their souls. Morality is not a compromise, and politics is all compromises. I hold no politician to any hero status. I pray to no political party. I am a man of faith, and I am guided by prayer not the media. 
Mother Teresa said: “At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done.We will be judged by "I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.”
The model of our leaders is locked into "we can't" even when they say "We Can".
It's always we can't to:
Saving our manufacturing jobs,
Lowering the cost of going to college,
Ending poverty,
Cover the sick medically,
Even our returning war veterans have to beg for medical coverage.

It's we Can't over and over again:
We can't bail out students,
We can't bail out home owners,
We can't cloth the naked,
We can't feed the hungry.

Their mantra(s) are always
Tax breaks for the wealthy,
More lives for oil,
We got bail outs for
Wall Street,
Trickle down scams are us,

We hold:
No corporation responsible,
No politician responsible,
No policy maker responsible,
Vote for us people.

I am not a democrat,
I am not a Republican,
I am not a Tea Party,
I am not a Coffee Party,
I am an American, and in 2016 I am going to hold everyone of them responsible.
No Justice! No Votes!
Walking to DC,

In the summer of 2016 I shall return to our nation's capital to reclaim the government for the people by the people, to demand our more perfect union. Maybe thousands we join me, or maybe I will be one man holding his No Justice! No Votes! sign. What really matters is not how many join me, but that someone brings truth to our nation's capital. If you want to know what I listened to on my walk's John Lennon's Power To The People"

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

No Justice! No Votes, calling a 100,000 to DC in 2016

In 2010 I walked to DC to protest high-stakes testing. In 2011 we formed Save Our Schools March, no one knew us, we had no money, we were all members of some other groups like Parents Across America, Teacher Letters to Obama, higher Education faculty members from Towson University, University of Maryland, American University, and Central Connecticut University, teachers, activists and parents. We might have had 12 people at the most. All we had was an idea, we wanted to host an anti high-stakes testing conference, rally and march in DC in July. We were told we needed to raise 150,000 dollars to pull it off. We were told it couldn't be done. Diane Ravitch said she speak, Johnaton Kozol said he speak, Nancy Carlson-Paige said she speak, and our list of speaker grew and grew. Each new speaker push one of us off speakers list, but we were fine, because it was not about us. It was about a just cause, it was about our children, our teachers, and our public schools. 8,000 to 10,000 people came. Our conference spots sold out quickly. Somehow we pulled it off. Plus it gave birth to new resistance groups, new ideas, and new leadership.

It's 2015 I am walking to DC again, and I say we can do it bigger, better, and turn 10,000 into a 100,000. A 100,000 right before the final push for the 2016 elections. A 100,000 that sign "No Justice No Votes pledges. I say this kind of event would scare both political parties. We might just wake up a nation to the injustice our children, teachers and our local schools are facing everyday. We can invite Rev Barber Moral Mondays to speak, education is a key component of the Moral movement. I think Rev Barber would come, and if he did then we will be talking about 200,000 people!
In Washington DC they are in the process of reauthorizing ESEA, (NCLB). I say no one in DC is listening, they are set to continue with their master plan to sell of our schools into testing factories, and to the highest bidders. Rather than reauthorizing NCLB, we should first be investigating and charging people with crimes against America's children, their teachers and public schools.
We can do this people.
We can reclaim our public schools,
We can bring play back into our elementary schools,
We can save recess,
We can bring joy back into learning,
We can give childhood back to our children,
We can make learning relevant to our young people,
We can reject silence,
We can reject apathy,
We can all walk,

We can all speak up,
We can all carry a sign,
We can all vote
We can help a nation become aware,
We make a difference in 2016,

10 miles for the New Captains of the Gate New Jersey Teachers

Today 10 miles is dedicated to Mr. Bass and Newark New Jersey’s New Captains of the Gate. I found them at NJTV News community room on June 30, 2015. Shout their names to the heavens, and tell the world all is not lost. Our Captain have spoken out, they are standing on that bridge of hope for us. Shout their names:
Dr. Monica Taylor, Associate Professor State University,
Al Moussab, East Side High School,
Liz Carletta, East Side High School,
Antonio Iglesias, East Side High School, and
Terry Moore, Save Our Schools March, Our Children/Our Schools
Just when it appeared Governor Christie and his for profit education reformers could not be beat. When NJTV called saying sorry Jesse.. Christie bumps your truth….

Dr. Taylor, Terry Moore and Liz Carletta and Antonio Iglesias showed up at the Lincoln Memorial in Newark saying ready to walk Walking Man?
So we walked, and soon joined by Communities United and the Newark Students union. Marching together into that Community room at NJTV, and we held the bridge to hope.
As I sat hearing Dr. Taylor praise her East Side High Teachers, and those teachers praise her as they shared their story of defiance. Governor Christie’s appointed Superintendent Cami Anderson told them their school had to become a “turn around school”, because of their low test scores….They researched every turn around they knew would eventually close, and become a for profit charter school.

They were told there was no choice, and they had to sign the Superintendent’s “turn around contract.”  Face with threats of school closure, retaliation and non renewals the teachers of East Side High school would stand together against these bullies of Ed Reform scammers. Parents and students stood with them as well. For in the eyes of the students and parents of East Side School, their school and their teachers were not failures, but successes. The teachers refused to sign on to Cami’s turn around deal. Ready for what ever was to come they stood united, they stood tall and strong. This show of strength ended up in keeping East Side High School opened and free from any turn around madness.  This story of Dr. Taylor saying this is not about education reform, but about injustice. She convinced the teachers to take a social justice stance, and teachers standing united, teachers taking their case to the people, and winning. This story needs to be told over and over again across the nation. These are my New Captains of the Gate.

Why called them New Captains of the Gate?
It was in the seventh grade that I first heard of Brave Horatius the Captain of the Gate. Mr. Bass went off the curriculum he gave his ghetto kids an epic poem Brave Horatius Captain of the Gate written by Lord Macaulay Thomas Babington. It was far above our reading levels, and much further from the experiences of the lives we were living. We moan, complained, and said it’s too long, it sounds strange. In today’s era of the Common Core no teacher would dare give his or her seventh graders such a poem. Mr. Bass would throw that Common Core out the window. He differentiated the curriculum not by reading levels, ability grouping, or any mandated curriculum. He differentiated the curriculum by giving students who lives had experienced three assassinations, (a president, a civil rights hero, and a senator), and saw hundreds of riots unfold daily on television. He differentiated the curriculum giving us what we needed to become men and women of honor. We were his students, the ones who saw anti-war protest every week on the evening news. Students who join right in when Barry McGuire started singing “Eve of Destruction.”
“You tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don't believe
We're on the eve
Of destruction.”

We began to believe noting really mattered anymore. Our lives were living Barry’s lyrics…

“Think of all the hate there is in Red China
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama
You may leave here for 4 days in space
But when you return, it's the same old place
The poundin' of the drums, the pride and disgrace
You can bury your dead, but don't leave a trace
Hate your next-door neighbor, but don't forget to say grace
And, tell me over and over and over and over again, my friend
You don't believe
We're on the eve
Of destruction”

Seeing our acceptance a world on the eve of destruction. Knowing that not only was our world falling to pieces on the nightly news, it was also falling to pieces in our homes as well. So Mr. Bass deviated from the proscribed curriculum of Yankee Doddle Dandy.
He did what teachers since Socrates have done; he challenged his students view of the world. He sat on his desk, closed his history book, and asked us this one question. Since you believe this is the end of the world. Are you just going to roll over and die, or fight like hell to save it?
He read it once, again, and again, then had us read it together, and on our own. We started to like this Captain of The Gate, but were still far away from really understanding how it connected to our lives.
Then Mr. Bass had us turn the poem into a play, walk us to the park, and had us live it on a small dirt hill. Suddenly lines started to come alive for us, held meaning for us, and we shouted verses in that dirt hill of meaning.

“For all the Etruscan armies
    Were ranged beneath his eye,
And many a banished Roman,
    And many a stout ally;
And with a mighty following
    To join the muster came
The Tusculan Mamilius,
    Prince of the Latian name.”

Can you see it boys and girls Tuscan’s armies on the march?

But by the yellow Tiber
    Was tumult and affright:
From all the spacious champaign
    To Rome men took their flight.
A mile around the city,
    The throng stopped up the ways;
A fearful sight it was to see
    Through two long nights and days.

He said: Imagine an army so large you could see it two days before it even reached you….
Now picture Roman mothers, fathers, and children praying for a miracle…
Now imagine Great Rome Leaders debating what to do, all the while doing noting…
But the Consul’s brow was sad,
and the Consul’s speech was low,
And darkly looked he at the wall,
    And darkly at the foe.
‘Their van will be upon us
    Before the bridge goes down;
And if they once may win the bridge,
    What hope to save the town?’
Just then a scout came flying,
    All wild with haste and fear:
‘To arms! to arms! Sir Consul:
    Lars Porsena is here.’
On the lows hills to westward
    The Consul fixed his eye,
And saw the swarthy storm of dust
    Rise fast along the sky.

See their fear, feel the hopeless, and see their world on the eve of destruction…
See Rome surrounded by the river Tiber…Hear the scots rush in saying all is lost Lars Porsena 100,000 soldiers are ready to cross the only bridge in. See the Roman Senators pulling their hair out, cursing the gods, and beaten. ..

Feel their world being crushed, Now Jesse rush up the that hill….Run Jess Then out spoke brave Horatius,
    The Captain of the gate:

“‘To every man upon this earth
    Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
    Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
    And the temples of his Gods,
‘And for the tender mother
    Who dandled him to rest,
And for the wife who nurses
    His baby at her breast,
And for the holy maidens
    Who feed the eternal flame,
To save them from false Sextus
    That wrought the deed of shame?
‘Hew down the bridge, Sir Consul,
    With all the speed ye may;
I, with two more to help me,
    Will hold the foe in play.
In yon strait path a thousand
    May well be stopped by three.
Now who will stand on either hand,
    And keep the bridge with me?’
Now run up that hill Jose, run George run….

“Then out spake Spurius Lartius;
    A Ramnian proud was he:
‘Lo, I will stand at thy right hand,
    And keep the bridge with thee.’
And out spake strong Herminius;
    Of Titian blood was he:
‘I will abide on thy left side,
    And keep the bridge with thee.’”

On that little mound of dirt we would come to understand our world was worth fighting for, dying for, and more important living for. I have live my life striving to be that Captain of the Gate.
So teachers let us run up that hill. The time to stop that hoard of education deformers at the doors of our public schools is here. Join me as I walk to DC.
Then out spake brave Horatius, The Captain of the Gate:
“To every man upon this earth Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his Gods”

This 10 is for those new captains of the gate that held the bridge in that community room
Dr. Taylor,
Al Moussab,
Liz Carletta,
Antonio Iglesias, and
Terry Moore who brought us all together to defend our public schools.
You my fellow captains,
Lift me,
Inspire me,
Compel me to walk,
Thank you,

If you are wondering what the Walking Man is listening to today on his's Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction";_ylt=A0LEV1tOo6ZVKOsAoIJXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEyMmNoam01BGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDQjA0ODZfMQRzZWMDc2M-?p=eve+of+destruction&

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

SOS Go Fund Me shout out, I see a day coming where millions are marching..

A few pictures from some walk stops on my way to DC.
Some people are asking if my walk has a website. I am a one man PR machine with limited resources. I am using Facebook to pushed the walk. I am an activist that has for over a decade been fighting against high-stakes testing and NCLB.
In 2010 I stepped outside my local comfort fighting zone. I decided to push things nationally started walking to DC. Had no idea where it would lead me, but understood that silence and apathy was destroying our public schools. I do remember writing one of those Anthony Cody letters to President Obama, and understanding that no one in DC was listening to teachers. I started this blog right here, and a Facebook group called "Children Are more than test scores."

I have no budget, no grants, no support staff, but I do have two feet made for walking, a voice made for talking, and a pen made for writing. I am not perfect or some kind of hero. I am a man on a quest for justice for our children, their teachers and public schools.
I believe in the "Power of One...that math concept that explains if you double a number starting with 30 days you have millions. I see this struggle not in terms of 30 days, but a long term Power of One battle for the salvation of our children and our democracy.
So no website people, but a big heart, an open mind, and two strong feet made for walking. My faith in every day Americans to do the right thing inspires me. I see a time of millions marching coming. I see it coming sooner not later.
I read Man Of LaMancha when I was 10 years old, and fell in love with the thought of a knight errand on a quest to do right. I am in love with fighting the good fight.
I believe victory is coming, and even if I fall I know I am the better for it. As sure as night turns to day I see change coming.
Walking to DC,

PS, I am 11 days from DC, could use a little help with my Go Fund Me campaign. I have been asking people to give 10 dollars for 10 miles. Every 10 dollars helps cover the cost of my Walking To DC campaign. No pressure, give if you can, and know just reading my blog inspires me to walk.

If you are wondering what song this walking man was listening to it's Eric Clapton's Change The World.;_ylt=AirSAQZv63E7A5oZfwtpjsKbvZx4?fr=yfp-t-901-s&toggle=1&fp=1&cop=mss&ei=UTF-8&p=youtube%20change%20the%20world%20eric%20clapton

Monday, July 13, 2015

10 miles for SOS NJ and NJ Communities United, real heroes living outside Christie's bubble

Catching up on Walking Man New Jersey news and my dedication shout outs!

On June 30 I was bumped from NJTV News by Governor Chris Christie’s presidential kick off announcement. While the Governor spoke to a small group of millionaires, party faithful, and mainstream media inside Livingston High Schools, over a thousand of his citizens were crying no way signs outside. I know, because I was outside with Jersey citizens who have had enough of him, and spoke about how the governor of CT, NY, and NJ are all in the house of high stakes testing pain for children. Different political parties, different states, but the same pain and the same education scam reform plans.

July 3, 2015 10 miles was dedicated to two of New Jersey’s “feet on the ground” organizations fighting against for profit charter schools and high-stakes testing. These 10 miles are for our mighty, migthy warriors of justice "Save Our Schools New Jersey" and New Jersey Communities United.
The press often misses anything outside their bubble village of the powerful, the connected, and the wealthy.  The village is less a village, and more an elite club of profiteers whose mission is to milk every dollar they can out of our public schools. Mainstream media is part of that village of elites. They have over the past decade increasingly become mere talking heads rather than on the ground news. This explains the unprecedented decline in viewers in my humble opinion. I’m a Jersey City Boy myself, grew up in Jersey, went to Ferris High School in Jersey City, have three degrees from New Jersey City University. I grew up outside the bubble village. I don’t know any billionaires, I don’t wine and dine with senators and governors, and not one person on Wall Street even knows my name. I do know New Jersey’s everyday people; you know parents, teachers, those struggling to make mortgage payments, and those living from paycheck to pay check. You know the ones the bubble village people never engage in conversations, and then pretend to understand. I can hear their village singing that Arthur song from Camelot  “What do simple folk do?”…They sit around and wonder what royal folk would do…. And that's what simple folk do.”
Seriously does anyone really think Governor Christie will be in it at the end? His state approval outside the bubble village has fallen to 30 percent. My thinking is those living in the bubble village of the powerful in 2016 are going to learn that we are the many and they are the few. No Justice! No Votes!
On Christie’s big announce day mainstream media did what it always does it chased the news inside the village bubble. While they made much to do about nothing, I met with New Jersey real citizens. We packed the Community Room at NJTV on 6-30-15. There was not one empty chair in the room. We discussed the news the bubble village has ignores. We share the efforts of Jersey people that have been fighting back against the disastrous education reforms of the past 13 years.  Tell Arthur and his bubble people, the simple folk are never idle, and we always talk about real things. Someday that bubble will burst, and the people will be there to clean up the mess left behind.

Margaret Mead said: “A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” Before our meeting “the simple folks marched from the Lincoln Memorial on Market Street in Newark to NJTV. Teachers, Workers Caucus members, Newark Students United members, and retired teacher Terry Moore and Dr. Monica Taylor chanting:
Whose schools? Our schools!
Whose children? Our children!
Whose communities? Our Communities!
No justice! No Votes!

Time to dedicate 10 miles for my heroes of the day

As we gathered in the NJTV News Community room I would come to hear the truths of all those gather, and their solutions of hope for New Jersey public schools. I would come to hear about the good works of Save Our School New Jersey. ( ) from Susan Cauldwell and Lisa Winters. They shared SOS NJ’s fight for every child to have access to a high-quality public education. I learned Save Our Schools NJ began in 2010 as a successful effort by a small group of parents to pass a local school budget, but grew to become a statewide organization with over 35,000 members. I reflected how they began during my first walk to DC in 2010. They have grown to over 35,000 savvy members pushing positive school reform legislation through legislators in Trenton.  They know the data; New Jersey’s public schools have always rated as one of the highest scoring states for public education in the nation. Something Governor Christie seldom mentions. They proudly state; “Save Our Schools NJ’s goals are to protect and preserve New Jersey’s excellent public schools by:

  • Keeping the community at large and our legislators informed about issues that directly impact our children’s education, both locally and at the state level
  • Establishing a statewide network of individuals willing to advocate in support of public education

We believe every child should have access to a high-quality, publicly funded education.

  • High-quality education requires safe and adequate school facilities; excellent instruction that incorporates children’s individual needs; and a curriculum that includes art, music, sports and world languages.

We believe publicly-funded schools should be democratically controlled by and accountable to their local communities, and uphold the highest values of those communities. 

  • Publicly-funded schools must not segregate or discriminate against children on the basis of income, English proficiency, special needs, race, gender, religion or sexual orientation.
  • Publicly-funded schools must be fully transparent, including their educational outcomes and the sources and uses of their public and private funding.

We believe publicly-funded education must focus exclusively on our children’s growth and development, not on making profits or punishing communities. 

  • For-profit corporations have no place in teaching or management at publicly-funded schools.
  • Assessments at publicly-funded schools should be created and implemented to improve and tailor instruction, not for punitive or profit-making purposes.

Who could argue with those goals? Who would not consult with them on all issues on education in New Jersey? You got it those bubble people, and their Ed Reform idols.
As I came to know SOS NJ members in the room I came to see them as middle class mothers working hard to raise their families. The very Soccer Moms Secretary Arne Duncan so often underestimates and dismisses. As overly protective parents worried their babies might not do well on Common Core tests.   Too bad Duncan has failed to listen to them. Too bad mainstream media doesn’t give them the air time they give to those bubble head village people who have no clue about what is happening in our public schools.  The word from this Walking Man is Save Our Schools New Jersey is genuine heroes defending their public schools. They are real giants in our fight to take back our schools form the bubble village profiteers. 

Next I heard from New Jersey Communities United, ( NJCU a progressive grassroots community organization committed to building power for low and moderate income people, predominantly in Newark share their successes and on the ground truths.
Roberto Cabanas their Field organizer, and Community organizers Alex Garcia, Juan Pablo Orjuela, Bryan Lowe, and Kristin Towkaniuk explained NJCU works to ensure that everyone has access to the American Dream. They give voice to the hopes and dreams of low and moderate-income communities, communities of color, and immigrant Americans though collective action.
In was clear they are in your face activists working to hold government and corporations accountable, improve the health of our families, economy and environment, and reform our public schools, workplaces and financial institutions. In other words these are my kind of Jersey people. They represent the voices those bubble villagers (Profit Charter Schools, Cami Anderson, and Governor Christie) have never sat down with to have a sincere conversation about our public schools. They work with parents, teachers, and students to fight for education, against home foreclosures, and for justice for workers. They have given the New Students Union a place to meet, grow, and be mentored. That alone makes them heroes and giants in my book, but they do so much more then fight for education. They are a grassroots organization deeply rooted in all issue of social justice.
Imagine if Governor Christie sat down with these tow groups, listened deeply to their concerns, and possible solutions. Imagine if Governor Christie open his offices, listened learned, and worked with the citizens of his own state. If he did that he wouldn’t have to run away from his own state.
The truth that SOS NJ and Communities United share on June 30, 2015 inspired me, taught me new insights, lifted me up, and compels to continue to walking, talking, and learning from students, parents, teachers, and activists. While mainstream media was chasing Governor Christie all around New England, I met with New Jersey real heroes of public education. William Arthur Ward said: "Do more than belong: participate. Do more than care: help. Do more than believe: practice. Do more than be fair: be kind. Do more than forgive: forget. Do more than dream: work."
Here is to SOS NJ and NJCU  whose organization do more than dream.
When our meeting ended I sang that
You’re not too heavy SOS NJ,
You’re not too heavy Communities United,
We can carry you,
We can lift you up,
Thank you SOS NJ and Communities United for lifting me up,

If you like to hear what song the Walking Man was listening to this morning on his walk to DC, it's Rage Against The Machine's "No Shelter"

Saturday, July 11, 2015

This 10 is for Dr. Elene Demoss and for all those teacher defenders out there.

July 2, 2015:  10 for Elene Demoss defender of truth, academic freedom, and fellow teachers.

Dr. Martin Luther King said: "Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice; say that I was a drum major for peace; I was a drum major for righteousness. I want to leave a committed life behind." He wanted to leave us a path to justice. In many ways my walk is my way of being a drum major of hope for our nation's children, teachers and public schools.

Yesterday while walking with a teacher I was asked the question...Aren't you worried about your job? They are just so powerful, and have so many ways to shut people down.
In 2003 I put together a No Child Left Behind conference at my university called "Children Are More Than Test Scores. " I brought Susan Ohanain a well know opponent of NCLB and a panel of students, parents, teachers, and administrators, and a Congress women from the district together for a discussion of NCLB implications. 
Well by the end of the day it was clear the only one defending NCLB was the Congress women. By the next day she was on the phone to the President of our university complaining about me. She told him she needed to speak to whole school of education, because something is wrong with them. She wanted me gone. Elene Demoss one of our Vice Presidents supported me. She arranged for that meeting with the congress women and the whole school of education at a time I could not attend. With Dr. Demoss and others keeping the focus off me I survived that one. I remember saying to Elene. What am I suppose to do about NCLB? I can't stay quiet about something I view as unjust, punitive to children and teachers, and a waste of tax-dollars.
Elene said, you do what faculty at every university should be do... you do the research, and you tell the truth based on your research. I have done the research, and I am walking the truth personally to anyone who will listen. Elene and I became good friends over the years. Elene would be happy to know I am still walking the truth.
As we were coming to the end of our walk together, the teacher said I'm getting braver everyday Jesse. I said I know you are, we all are, and soon the truth shall shatter those walls of testing lies.

Before she left I said I want you to listen a song I been listening to for the past couple of days. It's one my Momma loved called: "I'm gonna live the life I sing about." My mother loved Mahalia Jackson singing it. I have a new cut of the song on my iPhone by the "Last Internationale".  So we shared my headphones. As we listen together, I think she came to understand we each have to live the song we hear in our hearts. My song calls me to walk, and on this day this teacher who thought herself not brave walked her song bravely with me. Her song inspires me, her walk compels me to walk, and we are all braver than we believe. “Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. Christopher Robin to Pooh”
We parted, I still had a couple of miles to go. As I walked I reflected about Elene Demoss my defender, my colleague, and dear friend who passed away last year. But every step I walk, she walks with me. By the way Elene and I share the same birthday, born decades apart, but linked in living that song in our hearts.
Walking to DC,

The version we shared is by the Last Internationale: