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Monday, October 31, 2016

Dear Next President, I am reporting a crime against children





Dear Next President: It appears the main stream media failed to raise one single significant question about our nation's public school system during the debates. It is my intention to update you on the status of our public school system from an educator's perspective.

Our Nation's greatest achievement ~ Over one hundred and fifty years of Public Education! Our Nation's greatest shame, 150 years of quality Public Education determined by zip code policies... Historically, our Public School System has, since the first day doors opened, given more money to our wealthy schools than to our poor schools. America's Black children have not only had to face inequity, but segregation and racism as well.

  • In 1896 Plessy vs Ferguson documents that Black children have been asked to do more with even less. 
  • In 1954 Brown vs The Board of Education offered America an opportunity to redeem itself on race; six decades later that redemption is still as far away as it was before our Nation's Highest Court ordered an end to segregation. 
  • The 2015 Education Week Quality Counts Report, indicates that 49 of our 50 states spend more money on their wealthy schools than their poor schools. The schools where children living below the poverty line attend, have always been asked to do more with less. 
Dear Next President, racism has deep roots in our American Public School System, since that very first day when doors opened. Immigrant children have done no better than Black children in our public schools. States have often threatened to block funding for public education to undocumented children. In 1982 only a narrow 5-4 United States Supreme Court vote in Plyer v. Doe upheld the right to a public education to undocumented children. The fight continued in California (1994), Illinois (2006), and Alabama (2011), and others will follow.

Poor children have been short changed since the very first day public education became a reality. Our constitution makes no mention of public education; it was individual states that made a commitment to public education as a public good. The "Public Good" was not about equity and justice for all in our nation's public schools. Here in Connecticut we had a Commissioner of Education who, when pressed by Hartford parents on "how we can improve the education of our children, his answer was simple and direct "change your zip code". While our United States Constitution fails to mention the right to a public education. Our United States Declaration of Independence (1776) states; "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." I would argue that the educational aspirations of a free people should not be rooted in some "Common Core" or in the High-Stake Test scores of our nation's children, but in these simple words Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness. The Dept. of Education today, blames students, parents, teachers and local public schools for the failure of a nation to provide all children with an equal and just public education system. This is our nation; a nation that is failing its children.

One of your upcoming roles will be to select the next United States Secretary of Education. For over 14 years, we have endured a) No Child Left Behind, b) Race To The Top, and c) Every Student Succeeds Act. All three of these "education reform policies" are failures, failures that have left Black, Brown and Poor communities with a legacy of public school closings, and choices without equity. These acts were sanctioned by all three former and current Secretaries of Education. Someday history will mark their tenures as reigns of testing terror. My hope today, is that you do not look to these former acts as role models for public education, but rather you see them for what they are, failures ~ they fail to serve public education. Remember "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness. Consider those sacred words written into our nation's Declaration of Independence as our public school system's justice and humanity test. Before you implement new education reform polices ask if they can pass the humanity and justice for all of America's children standard? 

Maybe you will take into consideration, Horace Mann (often called the father of America's public schools), and first Massachusetts Secretary of Education who documented well, our efforts at equity. After six years in his role, having visited some 1000 schools, he writes "Inequality of education opportunity is everywhere". He comments that Massachusetts takes better care of its livestock than its children. No Secretary of Education in any state in America, or at the national Department of Education level, has ever come close to the actual on the ground visits to our nation's public schools as Secretary Mann did. Today these same secretaries of education appear more comfortable sipping champagne with billionaires, tech industry giants, hedge fund managers, or shooting a round of golf with CEOs looking to sell their products to our nation's schools. Our newest President of America would be wise to advise the new Secretary of Education to immerse themselves in America's Black, Brown and Poor public schools. Inform him/her that you expect them to follow the Horace Mann tradition of visiting a public school every day, lecture nightly in the town hall on the tenets of public education, and dine with the locals. Our next Secretary of Education should visit, listen, and serve our nation's children not our nation's CEOs.

Coretta Scott King said: " “I must remind you that starving a child is violence. Neglecting school children is violence. Punishing a mother and her family is violence. Discrimination against a working man is violence. Ghetto housing is violence. Ignoring medical need is violence. Contempt for poverty is violence.”
NCLB, RTTT and ESSA are acts of violence against our nation's children, their parents, and their teachers. More than one hundred and fifty years of inequity and injustice is not an oversight, this is not an error in judgement, or some misstep.  This is an intentional crime. A crime against the humanity of our nation's most vulnerable children. America cannot tell Black, Brown and Poor children that equity is coming, that justice is out there, somewhere, someday.

In protest to these failed education policies I walked from Connecticut to Washington DC in 2010 protesting NCLB and RTTT. I walked again in 2015, this time to protest the passing of ESSA. I have marched on DC again in 2016 at the Save Our Schools Coalition March for Public Education and Social Justice. The education reform policies of the past 14 years have demoralized our nation's teachers, harmed our children, and have left a wreckage of closed public schools in its trail. Promises of choices without equity are crimes against humanity.

This Sunday while reading The New York Times, I found the above notice "Prime Properties For Sale" 12 former Newark Public Schools For Sale. The sad and disgusting legacy of No Child Left Behind, Race To The Top, and Every Student Succeeds Act is an astonishing 14-year legacy of abandoning the public schools that serve Black, Brown and Poor children time and time again. The closing of poor local schools in Black and Brown communities has become as common as the seasons in cities across America. Every Black and Brown community school closing is a crime.

Quick America Call 911
Every public school closed is an act of violence against America's most needy.
Education policies that reduce children to tests scores are acts of violence against children.
Every Valued Added Measure deal is an act of violence against teachers.
The billions spent on NCLB, RTTT and ESSA high-stakes testing, and not on teachers, books, art supplies, and musical instruments is violence against children.
Stealing Recess for test prep is a crime against children.
Cutting Physical education for test prep is a crime.
Every poor family told to place their faith in school choice lotteries without equity is an act of violence.
Every Secretary of Education that fails to demand equity and justice in our public schools for Black, Brown, and Poor children today is an enabler of violence against children.
Every budget cut increasing the class sizes in our nation's poorest public schools is an act of violence.
The trillion tax dollars used on test and punish policies over the last 14 years is a serious crime against our nation's children.
The promise was every child reading, writing and doing match at grade level by 2013.
A crime, a broken promise, a trillion dollars gone, and a legacy of public school closings.
Quick America call the president!

Dear Next President, others may be willing to give you a grace period. But, after over a century and a half of inhumanity, inequity and injustice in our public school system, I can give no grace period. I will not tell Black, Brown and Poor children to wait on their aspirations of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. My intention in writing you is to report a crime against our nation's most needy children. Any someday promise of equity and justice is coming, justifies the criminal actions of a nation against its own children.
Silence and Apathy are Not Acceptable,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner



If you like to listen to the song I listened to on my walk over the mountain this morning its Leela James version of Sam Cook's " A change is gonna come"
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dtwpdgIUiQ


Kaplan, L. & Ownings, W. (2015). Education Foundations: Stamford CT:  Cengage Learning.

Education Week. Quality Counts Report 2015. 1997-2016 annual report.





Wednesday, October 26, 2016

People Get Ready.. there's a trian a coming

Don't tell me NCLB, RTTT and ESSA is the best our children deserve? 
Don't tell me that the best measures of our children are standardized test scores?
Don't tell me charter schools and magnet schools for some is the best America can do?
Don't tell me tax cuts for billionaires’ matter more than budget cuts to our public schools?
Don't tell me the purpose of public education is to get a good job?
Don't tell me quality education for our children depends on their Zip Code?
Don't tell me rigor, no excuses, and tough love is the best we can do for our children in public schools?
Don't tell me removing elected boards of education in Black, Brown, and Poor communities improves our public schools?
Don't tell me the best measure of our teachers are the test scores of the children they teach?
Don't tell me billionaires, hedge fund managers, and testing companies have the slightest clue to what matters to our children in our public schools? 
Don't tell me legislators who claim they want accountability through testing, but have haven't done anything about inequity in our public schools understand accountability.
Don't tell me turning our public schools over to the same corporate America that sent our jobs overseas, closed our factories, and mills are trust worthy of caring for our children?

Trust me on this one thing, the people understand that NCLB, RTTT and ESSA are rotted in the same test and punish policies that have already failed our children.
The people are gathering, and after this election we will be coming in mass to take back our public schools.
We will insist on a new accountability, one in which we judge our political leaders not by the test scores of our children, but by equity and justice every child receives in our public schools.
There will be no more budget cuts.
There will be
no compromises on equity. 

The purpose of American public schools will be to help our children fulfill the only American standard that matters written into our Declaration of Independence: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” 
Change is long overdue, change is coming, and the people are already marching.
On the march,
Jesse The Walking Turner


It you like to know what this walking man is listening to on his walk over the mountain today its "People Get Ready" version by Curtis Mayfield, Taylor Dayne and David Lindley > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bj7W37ZG-nY<
Sing it all the way to the public schools our children deserve.
" People get ready

There's a train a-coming
You don't need no baggage
You just get on board
All you need is faith
To hear the diesels humming
Don't need no ticket

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

I'm a soldier defending the whole child, the whole person, the whole community


Nell Nodding’s said: "We will not find the solution to problems of violence, alienation, ignorance, and unhappiness in increasing our security, imposing more tests, punishing schools for their failure to produce 100 percent proficiency, or demanding that teachers be knowledgeable in the subjects they teach. Instead, we must allow teachers and students to interact as whole persons, and we must develop policies that treat the school as a whole community." (P.10)

What are we fighting against?
People who put profits ahead of children.
People who want to control the very public schools they refuse to send their children to
People who can be brought for campaign contributions.
People who view our nation's public schools as capital to be traded and sold at will.
People who don't care about the whole person.
People who don't care about whole communities.
You should know them.
They are the selfish.
They are the people whose only concerns are power, money, and themselves.
What should we fight for parents and teachers?
We should fight for educating the whole person against education policies that reduce education to choices without equity.
This is the road I have chosen. The road is long and winding, it is paved with many ugly turns, but it is the right road to take. Now I call you to activism. The activism committed to ending a School To Prison Pipeline that uses testing data to hide its own immoral ineptitude.
I am a soldier traveling over rocky ground, and I am not alone.
Come join us on this rocky road to justice,
Dr. Jesse Patrick Turner
Bruce Springsteen Sings:

I'm a soldier
We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground

Rise up shepherd, rise up
Your flock has roamed far from the hills
The stars have faded, the sky is still
The angels are shouting ,Glory Hallelujah
We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
Forty days and nights of rain have washed this land
Jesus said the money changers in this temple will not stand
Find your flock, get them to higher ground
Flood waters rising and we're Caanan bound
We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
I'm a soldier
Tend to your flock or they will stray
We'll be called for our service come Judgment Day
Before we cross that river wide
Blood on our hands will come back on us twice

I'm a soldier
Rise up shepherd, rise up
Your flock has roamed far from the hills
Stars have faded, the sky is still
Sun's in the heavens and a new day's rising
You use your muscle and your mind and you pray your best
That your best is good enough, the Lord will do the rest
You raise your children and you teach 'them to walk straight and sure
You pray that hard times, hard times, come no more
You try to sleep, you toss and turn, the bottom's dropping out
Where you once had faith now there's only doubt
You pray for guidance, only silence now meets your prayers
The morning breaks, you awake but no one's there
We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
There's a new day coming
We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
I'm a soldier
We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
There's a new day coming





If you like to hear Bruce sing what I am feeling on my walk over the Avon Mountain this morning..its  Rocky Ground > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPmIIXXv0d8 <

Friday, October 21, 2016

Wake up, Policy Makers, Legislators and Ed Reformers you have failed


Tonight at our TEDxCCSU all women Happening "Who Speaks for us" event. Six incredible women take the stage at CCSU. Women whose work deeply reflects an advocacy of caring for others.
My heroes have always been women. TEDxCCSU talkers are not compensated, they are not even given a penny towards their travel, they take great risks to spread good ideas. They stand alone on the stage knowing that they have 15 minutes to give it their best shot. They do this, because they care about the world, about you, and about us. They are the best of the best.

I am so proud our TEDxCCSU team gave me the go ahead to recruit an all women cast this year. In two weeks time I'll post the links to their talks. Get ready, we are shaking the tree...it's woman's day.
Nell Noddings is a larger than life author and Feminist Educator. She said: "We will not find the solution to problems of violence, alienation, ignorance, and unhappiness in increasing our security, imposing more tests, punishing schools for their failure to produce 100 percent proficiency, or demanding that teachers be knowledgeable in the subjects they teach. Instead, we must allow teachers and students to interact as whole persons, and we must develop policies that treat the school as a whole community." 

 

In selecting our TEDx talkers this year I reread and reflected on the writings of Nell Noddings often. I reached out to Women whose work speaks for itself much like Noddings work speaks to me.
Dr. Denny Taylor introduced Nell to me some 22 years ago. She was a visiting scholar, and I was a doctoral student at the University of Arizona.  She was simply amazing. One of those teachers who inspires and moves her students to risk stepping outside their comfort zones. I am blessed by her lessons. Denny is speaking tonight, and like Nell Noddings her work is profoundly rooted in caring for children, parents, public schools, and our planet. I want Denny to know I still read Nell Noddings, and my teaching is inspired by caring for everyone who walks through this world. You don't need to be my student for me to care for you. I am my brothers and sisters keeper, and they are my keepers.


You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know our current legislators, policy makers, and education reformers are male driven reforms. NCLB, RTTT, and ESSA have already failed our children, their parents and teachers, and our public schools. The data of the past 14 years clearly points to their male driven models of rigor, tough love, and choice without equity as the biggest education reform failures in the history of public education. They have done great harm to a whole generation, and now with ESSA they are harming another. We can stand by and watch, or we can meet the challenge to care enough to enter the arena of change like tonight's TEDxCCSU talkers.

SO WAKE UP legislators, policy makers, and so called education reformers, you have already failed us. Choice without equity, rigor without out compassion, and the inhumanity of Test And Punish polices have always failed children. Nell Noddings, pointed out that our greatest challenge in public education is not tougher standards and more rigorous tests. The biggest challenge in our public schools is create a public school system that is deeply rooted in caring for those we teach, their teachers, each other, and our world. Children deserve education reforms rooted in caring.
Shaking the tree, it's women's day at TEDxCSSU,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner


If you want to listen to what this walking man listened to on his walk over the mountain this morning
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_Q79lls1f0 



Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Dissent Of A Giant: American Can Do Better



In my school days we began every day with these words "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." Some might call it indoctrination, but for me it planted the aspiration of justice that drives my activism today. I still remember that pledge, I still remember placing my hand over my heart. Despite every injustice in our nation today I still believe in liberty and justice for all. It drives my every action. There were giants once on our United States Supreme Court. Thurgood Marshall was one of them. Justice Marshall said: "I wish I could say that racism and prejudice were only distant memories. We must dissent from the indifference. We must dissent from the apathy. We must dissent from the fear, the hatred and the mistrust…We must dissent because America can do better, because America has no choice but to do better.”

Isn't his "We Must Dissent" from apathy, because America has can do better more relevant today than ever before? Isn't his call to dissent a moral call to action to a people who care about justice for all Americans? Isn't not answering the call the immoral choice of a people who don't care about justice for all.

We must dissent, because America,
Can do better in our public schools,
Can do better in our courts,
Can do better in our health care system,
Can do better in our policing,

Can do better for our veterans,
Can do better for the poor,
Can do better for the unemployed,
Can do better for elderly,

Can do better on race,
Can do better on economic justice,
Can do better on housing,
Can do better on keeping jobs here in America,
Can do better on ensuring a living wage for all,
Can do better on tax fairness.
America can do better, because America has no choice.

Shout on every street corner in the land, whisper it in every hamlet, bang your pops and pans, ring every bell America Can Do Better, Because America has no choice.
Call me one of Thurgood Marshall's voices of dissent,
Jesse The Walking Turner


If you like to hear the tune I was listening to on my walk this morning...its Marvin Gay's "what going on" > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-kA3UtBj4M&list=PL9990A304B567F94C&index=47 <