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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Legislators, it's not just your immoral budgets, we want out public schools back

I have been at the capital and fighting against CT Legislators proposed budgets every day. 114 of Connecticut Clerical Leaders called for a Moral Budget, and they took their call for a Moral Budget this past Monday to the Connecticut Legislative House. When they start singing "This little light of mine" 6 of them were arrested, and the rest of us were pushed out of the people's legislative house. Both political parties here are set to deliver painful cuts to our most needy and our public schools. But it is not just about the budget, it is about what they have done to our children, their teachers, and our public schools. We deserve a Moral Budget!
We need, our public schools back from your unfunded and insane mandates. We need, teachers to be respected again by our legislators and policy makers. We need, wrap around services for our most vulnerable children. We need, smaller class sizes. We need, more Art and Music. We need, more social workers and councilors. We need, summer school program for all children. We need, less testing, and more teaching. We need, funding for more field trips. We, need more special education teachers. We, need more para-professionals, We, need more Literacy Specialists. Most of all we need moral legislators willing not to protect billionaires, but to protect our children, our parents, our teachers, and our public schools.
Connecticut is not unique in this madness that cuts funding in our classrooms, and gives billions to testing companies at the same time. We need a Moral Budget, and a Moral People ready to fight to take back our public schools. Still marching, Jesse The Walking Man Turner

PS I got my walking shoes on. If you like to hear what inspired my walk this morning...its Barry Lane’s “Jesse Turner Is A Walking Man”

Monday, June 5, 2017

Today I shall walk with the Moral

Today Monday June 5, at 4:PM in Hartford Connecticut at the Legislative Chambers.
I will answer the call to the faithful, people of good conscience, and the just issued by Connecticut's Clergy to go to the Legislative chamber to demand a Moral Budget.
Today I will walk in the light of a greater good.
Today I will walk with my DueJustice brothers and sisters.
Today I will walk with our men and women of our clergy of all faiths.
Today I will walk with our non-profit agency leaders who serve the poor.
Today I will walk with my union brothers and sisters.
Today I will answer the call to justice.

Rev Barber said: "it is emotionally sick to deny people health care."
I would add it is evil for the wealthiest and most nation in the world not to provide medical care to all their own citizens.
When judgement day comes?
Shall our leaders say Lord, we could have asked the wealthy do pay more, but that would have limited to 5 or 6 mansions only Lord.
While they raise taxes on the middle-class lord. They reduced taxes by half on the wealthy since the 1960s.
What shall they say Lord?
They fear asking the wealthy to pay more might mean lowering their standard of living might fall.
Shall our legislators cry out Lord we could have could have ask them to pay more to help the sick, but the sick should have taken care of themselves.

Johnny Cash sang the "The man going round"
"There's a man goin' 'round takin' names
And he decides who to free and who to blame
Everybody won't be treated all the same
There'll be a golden ladder reachin' down
When the man comes around"

I don't need the man to come around to stand up for my brothers and sisters who are sick.
I don't need the man to come around to stand up for my brothers and sisters who are hungry.
I don't need the man to come around to tell me that 49 states spending more money on their wealthy schools than their poor schools to stand up for our poor schools.
I don't don't need the man to come around. I need to stand up for those that can't stand up for themselves.
I am my brother's and sister's keeper, and they are mine.
Today I will be a Moral Man.
Jesse The Walking Man Jami Turner

If you want to know what I am listening to this morning as I prepared to walk with Connecticut's Clerical Leader its...Johnny Cash singing "There's a man going round"

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Where has all the money gone, long time passing

Where has all the money gone, long time passing,
Gone to profits everywhere, long time passing,
When will we ever learn,
When will we ever learn.

Accountability matters, and so does the stealth robbery of funding for our public schools.
In the late 1990's Former Secretary of Education William Bennett saw a potential 250-billion-dollar assessment market.
NCLB and Race To The Top more than doubled on that prediction.
Public school students use to be test three time in the past. Once in Elementary school, once in middle school, and once in high school. This is still the way it is still done by most nations. Especially the nation's out scoring America on international assessments.
Let me play with the math a little. We have about 53 million children in our public schools. It takes some 13 years to complete a child's public education. In 2015 NCLB and RTTT first 53 million children completed their public-school journey.

In my day those children would have taken national/state exams three times costing about 300 dollars per child. Now when we calculate it out for 53 million students it come to somewhere around:
300 U.S. dollars per child over 13 years. Time that by 53 million = 15.9 billion U.S. dollars A massive amount of money. Testing in our public schools has always been a lucrative business.
Now people stay with me people? Under NCLB and Race To The Top testing when from 3 standardized tests to some 112 standardized tests per child. No one in the Department of Education wants to put a number on the cost of those 112 Standardized tests that children take during their 13 years in our public schools. But, heck let me take a shot at it for them? Let us say buying these tests and paying for the scoring equal somewhere around a 100.00 a pop.

So that comes 11, 200 U.S. dollars for every child during their public-school experience. Sure, sounds like a great deal of money. In most districts that equals what many schools spend to educate a child. Now we don't want to stop people. We have to take that 11,200 dollars, and times it by 53 million to fully see the cost of testing in our public schools. That comes 593.6 billion U.S. dollars for every generation of children that pass through our public schools. That is over 45 billion dollars for every year during a child's public school experience.

Where have all the art teachers gone,
Where have all the music teachers gone,
Where have all the Special Education teachers gone,
Where have all the Reading Specialists gone,
Where have all the school councilors gone,
Where have all the school social workers gone,
Where have all school nurses gone,
Where have all Gym teachers gone,
Where have 540 learning days gone,
Where have all teachers gone,

Gone to 112 Standardized tests everywhere, long time passing,
Where has all the money gone, Gone to profits everywhere, long time passing,
Where have all our school house smiles gone, long time passing,
Gone to tears everywhere, long time passing,
When will we ever learn,
When will we ever learn.

Parents, students, and teacher must Fight For Six, before ESSA robs another generation of hundreds of billions of dollars on useless testing.
Fight this insanity,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you want to listen to what tune inspired this walking man on his walk this morning in the rain...its Pete Seeger singing “Where Have All The Flowers Gone”

Monday, May 22, 2017

I stand with the Chicago Six Teachers

When Public Education punishes teachers for standing up for the children they teach? Then that system is corrupt.

When teachers are punished for being the "Mediums of Action for children, parents, and our local schools the system is broken.
John Dewey said: “It is advisable that the teacher should understand, and even be able to criticize, the general principles upon which the whole educational system is formed and administered. He is not like a private soldier in an army, expected merely to obey, or like a cog in a wheel, expected merely to respond to and transmit external energy; he must be an intelligent medium of action."

When we punish a teacher like Chicago teacher Sarah Chambers for advocating for the students she teaches, for the community she teaches in, and for her fellow teachers? The message is clear! Our children do not matter, Our parents do not matter, And public education becomes a system of abuse. Sarah is not alone in being punished in Chicago. There are 5 other teachers currently suspended for being vocal advocates for their schools and students. Let me say their names: Kevin Triplett, Joseph Dunlap, Laura Sierra, Jessie Hudson, Jose Contreras. Below is a link to video statements from these CTU hero teachers. Please click it, and also understand this is going on all over our nation.

Chicago is trying to shut down any opposition from teachers who risk being Dewey’s “Medium of Action.” They are teachers brave enough to criticize a corrupt public school system. They are being punished for rejecting silence and compliance with inequity and injustice in Chicago’s public schools.
We can support them. Here are the two simple things they like us to do:
Call Claypool at (773) 553-1500 and the Board of Ed at (773) 553-1600 and demand that they stop targeting teachers for standing up for their students.
Defend and support the CTU Six and other teacher advocates by promoting the #CTU6 hashtag and #CTU6 content on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I salute the Chicago Six, for their courage and commitment to the children they teach, to the communities they teach in, and for being our “Mediums of Action.” This isn’t about unionism this is about teachers being punished for advocating for the children they teach, and the public schools they teach in. When we remain silent and apathetic to systems of abuse we become tools of oppression.
I stand with the Chicago Six,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you want to know what this Walking Man listened to on his walk this morning...its..Rebel Diaz song “Chicago Teacher”
I'm walking with Rebel Diaz's words inspiring my every step. Thinking and standing with my Chicago brothers and sisters in their struggle against that CPS System of Abuse! 

"Homey I was taught by a Chicago teacher!
Chicago teacher, Chicago teacher!
I learned to read and write from a Chicago teacher,
So I’m inspired by the fight from our Chicago teachers!" 

"The teachers are tired, the students dumbfounded,
the budgets get cut so classes are overcrowded.
Streets full of violence, the blue code of silence
so imma keep rhyming til salaries start rising!
The unions uprising! takin to the streets!
The workers are United so the Mayor's got beef!
Rahm's a fake pretender with a corporate agenda"

Sunday, May 21, 2017

How many tears must fall, before it's equal justice for all

A Bridgeport teacher speaks up after another unarmed teenager of color is shot dead. Please read the link below?

No parent of a 15-year-old should hear the words your son was shot today by the police although he was unarmed. He laid bleeding to death alone, hand cupped, and without any medical attention. With not one single person holding his hand as he died. This should not be the norm for anyone's son. Justice should never be we were scare, and decided to shoot first ask questions later.

We know this can stop, we know it can be done differently. In New York City last week, a drunk driver killed an innocent 18-year-old girl, injured 28 others, and jumped out of his car and started attacking people physically. He was arrested not shot.

If we say we should teach young people respect in our schools and in the home, then that lesson should not be, to Black sons you are black and you'll be treated differently by the police. As long as this is the lesson Black parents have to teach, then justice is not equal in America. Respect should begin with regardless of your color, your immigration status respect is equal treatment by the police.

As a former high school teacher, I have felt the pain of losing students to violence. It rips your heart out. That empty desk every day is a reminder of what should never be. We all understand that for their families this will never go away.

Any school curriculum that does not address this norm of injustice in our society every day is a curriculum without meaning. If curriculum that does not address the fact that young boys and girls of color are arrested, convicted, treated brutally, and shot by our police in vastly higher numbers is meaningless. Any curriculum that chases test scores, and not justice is meaningless to the youth of our nation. A curriculum void of justice is no curriculum, but what Marcus Garvey called mental slavery.

Respect should begin with every person regardless of their color, every one should be treated the same under the law. Anything less is disrespect to fairness and justice. This is not only a Bridgeport problem, this is a nation crisis.

All Prayers to Jayson Negron's family, to all Bridgeport families, and for every Bridgeport teacher.
Dr. Jesse Patrick Turner

Dear Lord, hear my prayer that someday we won't have to march for justice for all. If you like to hear what this Walking Man is listening to on his walks these its...Rhiannon Giddens "Better Get It Right The First Time"

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

I Am Going to Walk For Labor And Justice

So much is wrong in our nation today. The Bully in the White House is dragging us down a little more with each insidious tweet. If you sit home watching it on the news, and you are not marching than you my friend are not part of the solution, but part of the problem.
People are fighting back all over America. I have decided I need to do another walk again. This time I am not walking to DC, but to Hartford LOB. Rev William J. Barber, II said we need to take this fight for justice to our state capitols.
So my Connecticut friends, I am walking 12 miles on Labor Day from Central Connecticut State University, (the first teacher's college in CT) to the Hartford LOB.
I am calling it a Labor and Justice walk. The walk should take me 3 to 4 hours to complete. I am hoping others will join me, or meet me in Hartford. Every Saturday until Labor anyone who wants to prepare for the walk can join me on a walk and talk at the West Hartford reservoir. We will start with walking an hour nice and easy on Saturdays, and work our way up to 12 miles. If you want to join me on my Saturday Walks in preparation just send me a message to
If I find myself walking alone, so be it. I have walked alone before, but if one other joins me. If one other joins me than we will be two, and two join us we will be 4, and if 4 join us than we are 8, and just maybe we'll reach 300. 300 Spartans rallied a nation, and save Greece. Connecticut, I am looking for 300 Labor and Justice walkers. What if the nation walked for Labor and Justice on Labor Day? Something tells me that would be the beginning of the revolution America needs most today.
I am walking for Labor and Justice, Jesse The Walking Man Turner
If you want to listen to the song that inspired my blog today....its a cover of my mother favorite Gospel singer Mahaila Jackson song I gonna live the life I sing about in my song by The Last Internationale

Sunday, May 7, 2017


A Walking Man SOS: FIGHT For 6

As George Clinton would say it's time to get your funk on.   The Walking Man is ready to tear the roof off High Stakes Testing. I am launching my Fight For 6 Campaign, this Monday May 8th, at 10:00am on the Tom Ficklin Radio Show WNHH-LP 103.5 FM. 

The plan is to explain how we went from 6 days of standardized testing to 540 of standardized testing. Everyone understands this one simple concept, testing days are lost learning days.  When I attended public school there was standardized testing.  We had it once in elementary school, once in middle school, and once again, in high school.  Back in the day, teachers would never think of practicing or preparing for those assessments.   Teachers were told that practicing would invalidate the results. Those of us 40 years of age and older, lost about 6 days of learning over our entire public school experience to high stakes testing.  Today's children spend about 540 days on preparing, practicing, and taking these assessments. That equals 3 years of 'lost learning' by the time our children graduate. We hear a great deal about data and accountability these days from politicians, Education Reformers, and CEOs. Do they really care about accountability?   The actual trend for our high school reading/math test scores have declined, or at the very least remained stagnant for the past 30 years. This decline came with massive expenditure over the past 15 years for more rigorous standards and testing. If these politicians cared about accountability, wouldn't they try something new?

Horace Mann, often referred to as the father of America's public education, addressed the vast inequalities between the 6000 public schools he visited during his time as the Massachusetts Secretary of Education in 1848. No other Secretary of Education anywhere or in any era has ever visited all the public schools under their guidance. His report to the Massachusetts Board of Education in 1848 "Now, surely, nothing but Universal Education can counter-work this tendency to the domination of capital and the servility of labor. If one class possesses all the wealth and the education, while the residue of society is ignorant and poor, it matters not by what name the relation between them may be called; the latter, in fact and in truth, will be the servile dependents and subjects of the former." (H. Mann, Report Number 12, 1848).

What would Horace Mann have to say 169 years later about those vast inequalities?  In 2015, Education Week Quality Counts report found 49 states spending more money on their wealthy schools than their poor schools.  Connecticut is one of those 49 states.
What has America done to make equity real in our public schools?   We have created a public school funding system based on property taxes. A system that assures the quality of education is determined by a person's zip code.
And returning once again to Mann's words : " If one class possesses all the wealth and the education, while the residue of society is ignorant and poor, it matters not by what name the relation between them may be called; the latter, in fact and in truth, will be the servile dependents and subjects of the former."  Marcus Garvey would call it a system of Mental Slavery. The name of the chains on America's Black, Brown, Special Education, and Poor children is INEQUITY. 
In 1892 the NEA Committee of 10, instead of working on equity and justice for all in our nation's public schools, began experimenting with common curricula, universal assessments and more rigorous standards. To them the solution was not ending inequity, but promoting new subject curriculum taught in English, testing and more rigorous standards. Does this sound familiar today? The only difference between those reforms of 1892,  and the ones of today is, 125 years later we went from one high school exit exam to 540 days of high stakes assessments.

Diane Ravitch writes: “Anyone who truly cares about children must be repelled by the insistence on ranking them, rating them, and labeling them. Whatever the tests measure is not the sum and substance of any child. The tests do not measure character, spirit, heart, soul, potential. When overused and misused, when attached to high stakes, the tests stifle the very creativity and ingenuity that our society needs most. Creativity and ingenuity stubbornly resist standardization." 2013, Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools

How did this loss of learning time happen? 

Education Reformers, CEOs, and our Political Leaders sold a lie to the American public; More testing and rigorous standards will bring equity to public schools.  The very people furthest removed from children, classrooms and teachers, sold parents the lie; It's testing, not equity that our public schools need. The people Dr. Ravitch describes as not caring for children; the people who are demanding we rank, rate, and label every child in America as proficient or not. The people who most likely do not send their own children to public schools.  Often, the very people who are profiting from testing, or raking in massive campaign contributions.  Those who claim equity will come through false school choices without equity.   The ones who claim more testing and standards will save Black, Brown, Special Education, and Poor children. These people  have not studied America's public school system. They have no clue what equity and justice should look like in our public schools. The truth, American public schools have never known a single day of equity and justice for Black, Brown, Special Education, and Poor children.  I would argue that these education reforms have increased those vast inequalities that Horace Mann noted 169 years ago.
Our leaders must begin to really care about equity and justice for Black, Brown, Special Education, and Poor children in our public schools.  They need to address the constant elephant in our classrooms "Inequity" over the last 169 years.
I want Equity and Justice Now, not more testing. The only standard needed in our public schools is Equity Now!
Fight For 6,
Jesse The Walking Turner

If you like to hear the song that inspires my walk over the Avon Mountain today....its Parliament Mother Ship's TEAR The Roff Off

Thursday, April 20, 2017

I went to Public-Schools

I went to public schools, public universities, and have taught my whole career in those places. I owe a million thank you(s) to those teachers who taught me.
I am sure both Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Betsy DeVos would call the public schools I attended failing schools. Both could not understand why someone like me would feel blessed to have attended those public schools. 
But, blessed I am to have been taught by teachers who believed we could be more, 
Teachers who taught their entire careers in inequitable settings, 
Teachers who had to make do without the necessary resources, 
Teachers who had to teach, us the hungry, the poor, and the abandoned. 
Teachers who taught every day without complaint,
And when I looked up, and said I want to go to college? 
Their smiles made me believe I could. 
When I was cold? 
My teachers found a coat, gloves and a hat for me,
When I went to Public Universities,
I found teachers who placed wings upon my dreams.
In those public schools and public universities, 
I found friends for life. 
In those public schools and public universities, 
I found my voice, my hopes, and faith in myself,
If it were not for my public-school teachers?
I would have fallen long ago.
Here's to every public-school teacher,
Here's to every public university professor,
Here's to those teachers who never had the resources,
Here's to those teachers who never had the professional supports needed,
Here's to my common bond, I share with 90% of my fellow Americans,
Here's to my heroes,
American public-school teachers.
Love from the little boy without a coat, 
The one you brought a coat for.
Love from the little boy who had no lunch, 
The one you brought an extra sandwich for. 

Love from the little boy who had a dream,
The one you gave wings to his dream.
Love, love, love, and a hundred thousand thank you(s).
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you like to know which song inspired my morning walk in the rain....its Sam Cooks Wonderful world ...

Monday, April 17, 2017

Before Gentifaction Killed Us!

Long before the beautiful Judy Collins recorded Amazing Grace at Saint Paul Chapel at Columbia University and made it an instant international hit.  Judy Collins link > <
Before she turned that little recorded song into one of the most recorded songs ever.
Irish and Scottish Bag Pipers had played it for two hundred years.

Jersey City firefighters and members of the Port Authority Police Department Bag Pipe playing at 9/11 memorial 

What I missed about when I was young and Irish?
Is Paddy playing Amazing Grace on the Bag Pipes.
Before the gentrification killed us,
Before our politicians gave tax credits to billionaires to move our jobs overseas,
Before they busted our unions,
Before they stole our pensions,
Before they decided a living wage would hurt Wall Street profits,
Before the Yuppies came,
Before 9/11.

When being Blue Collar meant something beautiful,
When being Blue Collar meant being proud,
When being Irish meant something more than green beer on Saint Patrick Day.

When I was young living by the river near the old pier on summer nights on Saturdays.
The men would come to the river, smoke and drink a bit before they would go home.
My mother would say go get your father and your uncles.
I would find them sitting with their shirts off, talking, laughing, moaning, bragging, and groaning. The Whisky was pouring, and then Paddy would jumped out on those old single pier piles with his bagpipes. He play " a Wearing of the Green. We cheer Good Man Paddy!
Eventually as the sun began setting Paddy played "Amazing Grace", and it signaled time to go home boys.

I remember being proud of all of them.
I remember all I ever wanted was to be them.
I was blessed by living in a time when Blue Collar life mattered.
Those men taught me what my school books couldn't.
Those men educated me in the ways my numerous university degrees could never do.

They taught me:
It does not matter Little Jess what kind of work you do.
What matters is pride in an honest day's work.
Work is dignity, and dignity is pride in a good day's work.
They gave me a place to hold on to,
Gave me a soul to call my own,
They gave me an identity of my own.
They made me Irish Proud,
They made me American Proud,
They made me human.
Here's to all those fathers, uncles, and cousins who educated me.
Here's to all you working class heroes,
Here's to the heroes I love.
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

On my walk over the mountain this morning...I listened to Sinead O'Cornor signing the song all the men sang as they walked home from those abandoned piers.. "Oro Se do Bheatha Bhaile"

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Standardized testing has always been about Half Glass Learners

Every time I meet new students I place a glass in the middle of a large bowl. I then fill it half way. I look out, and ask tell me about this glass?

Everyone immediately states the glass is half full.
I say what about the other half of the glass?

They look at me somewhat puzzled.
Tell me teachers, is there water in that half?
They say no.

I say then the glass is half empty then?
But what?
Well it's better to see it as half full?

Who told you that?
Everyone Professor.
Would you say there are half glass people and half full people?
Yes, we would.

Today let me tell you about the other people, the ones I hope you become.
Then I start pouring water into the glass until it overflows.
What do you see now?
A glass filled and over flowing.
Well, my hope is you leave that half full group, and join us people who fill our own glasses.

I hope you open your minds, read until you drop, think until it hurts, and join this group of people who reject the notions of half empty and half full.
Standardized testing has always been about measuring the half glass learners, it lacks the vision to measure those capable of filling their own glasses.
Children are more than test scores,
Jesse The Walking Turner

What happens when students boycott a standardized test?
They become learners who fill their own minds! If you like to listen to the tune that inspired this Walking Man on his walk this morning its...Play For Change cover of "Teach Your Children"

Saturday, April 8, 2017

It was never about our children, it was always about money and power

Marcus Garvey said: "Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds!" -
The two things are driving this drive to turn our children into data points?

The first is money. Testing companies are raking in billions of dollars in profits. The politicians of both parties are raking in millions of dollars worth of campaign contributions. Not of this is about children, it's about money and power.

The second thing, is the silence and apathy of the parents of the over 50 million children has given them permission to abuse children, teachers, and our public schools.

Their is only one solution open to ending this.

Parents Opting Out of this high-stakes testing scam that is crushing Art, Music, Physical Education, Recess, and any sense of the dignity and humanity of childhood.If we can't stand up for children, then we stand with evil,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

I am a better man for standing with Ben and his mother against the evil that dares to reduce his beautiful soul to some meaningless data points. Thank you Cindy and Ben for helping this Walking Man see the inhumanity of the of this madness that is reduces children to profits and data points. I have been blessed by the parents that I met on both my 2010 and 2015 walks to DC.

If you like to listen to the tune that inspire my morning walk this morning....its Bob Marley's Stand Up For Your Rights...

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Old Shoes In The Library

My library memories are not of books, but of his smells, and his old worn leather shoes. The library belonged to the old men who were push out of their wives’ way at home. The place for international debates among men from every corner of Europe in between the Liberian's shushes. The spot where Jews, Christians, the silent Muslims plus one or two atheists, read the newspapers in Spanish, English, Hebrew, French, and Arabic. The Library was bigger than English only back then. 

Their smells were beautiful old wool and worn out cottons with strong tobacco remnants. Yellow old teeth that spoke gentle wisdoms' in idioms lost deep in my heart. I remember Old Solid Walnut tables with heavy oak chairs surrounded by real plaster walls. The giant windows lighting every corner. From the viewpoint of a childhood, I am near the feet of my grandfather's old brown leather shoes. Listening under the table to the awe-inspiring talk of old men as they accomplish daily what the United Nations can only dream these days. 
The smell was not fresh, but old. Even 52 years later that old leaves me refreshed and invigorated. I can smell the coffee, the tobacco, and those old wools filling my dreams. Not one high school graduate among them, but each a scholarly reader wise beyond any university's towers. 
Their collected experience had lived through a dozen wars, depressions, numerous deaths and births. Their bones were tired, but they walked miles each day with dogs picking up their grandchildren from schools while parents worked their lives away. As they debated world politics, human rights, and the hopes of labor, we their grandchildren did our homework at their feet. Saying grandfathers this question is too hard. What does this mean? How are we going to answer this one? They relished every school question sent home with us. They would stopped the whole world for the wonder and awe of our homework questions. Understanding that these were the questions denied them in their childhood.

I miss those old shoes in the library of my heart

I missed his hand walking home, from our place of hope, love, and dreams,

I miss his smell,

I miss his deep wide sparking blue eyes,

I miss his gratifying voice,

I miss his very presence,

I miss walking up those marble stairs,

I miss him saying these stairs were made for princes and scholars Little Jess,

I would give the world for one more moment at his feet in our old library

His library memory holds my heart

My heart holds fast to that old man, and his smells and shoes

Locked away forever beautiful and safe, I wait to be near his feet under the table in heaven's library.

Libraries keep nation's healthy and strong, 
Jesse The Walking Turner

If you want to hear the song that carried me on my morning walk today in the rain?...its Dougie MacLean singing Auld Lang Syne

Sunday, April 2, 2017

540 days without learning for the love of money

Remember a public-school child for people over 50 had only 6 days of testing. The children of the wealthy, the powerful, and the connected don't attend our public schools, so standardized testing never really mattered much to them. For Public school students previous to the 1970’s testing happened 3 times during their K-12 years. Testing happen once in elementary school, once in middle school, once in high schools, and each time for no more than 2 days. We lost 6 days of learning. As NCLB and RTT came into full swing teachers began to inform me that were spending 8-12 weeks of school taking, preparing, and practicing for these test every year. That means Children today spend 540 days not learning. 540 days equals 3 years of learning. Trust me for Black, Brown, Special Education, and Poor children 540 days is a low estimate. Many schools are so obsessed with testing they were reducing and eliminating PE, Art, Music, and history. Schools in our poorest communities began focusing on isolated reading, writing, and math almost exclusively under No Child Left Behind, and under Race To The Top they increased that focus. As a Literacy expert my thinking is this over emphasis on testing, isolated literacy and math skills is actually turning children off reading and writing. This over emphasis on testing demoralizes teachers, and harms our children. It is one of the major reasons for many of our growing behavior problems in our public schools in my professional opinion. I have spoken out at every chance I could find since 2002. I have lobbied policy makers and legislators to end this testing madness that took away 3 years of learning. None of them listened. So I decided to walk from Connecticut to DC to protest high-stakes testing in 2010. Some 40o miles over 40 days. On that walk I met teachers, parents, and students who confirmed, the loss of learning time, and the harm it was doing to children and teachers. In 2015 I walked again to protest ESSA, because it changes nothing, and again teachers and parents reported the problems under ESSA have exacerbated the problem. Three things learned from fighting this insane testing policy: 1. First the only time, policy makers and politicians force draconian school policies on our public schools is when money is pouring into their campaign chests. 2. The reason it continues is too many parents, teachers, and students have remained silent and apathetic. 3. None of this is about our children, it is 540 days of not learning for the love of money! Fight the power, Jesse The Walking Man Turner Barry Lane’s We Found Defiance link

Saturday, April 1, 2017

No More Lord

Every day the focus of education reform is on competition.
It's gives cover to inequity and injustice in our poorest and most vulnerable public schools.

Every day the focus of education is on turning children into data points.
It gives cover to policies that dehumanize our children and their teachers.

Every day, the focus of education reform steals away art and music from Black, Brown, Special Education, and Poor Children.
It crushes the hopes and dreams of our most vulnerable children.

Every day education reform pushes programs that place the most inexperience teachers with our most vulnerable children.
It crushes hope, and harms children, and makes a mockery of teaching.

Every day we close a local public school to replace it with a for private charter school.
We help destroy a neighborhood.

Every day we let politicians, policy makers, and billionaires tell us poverty doesn't matter.
Our poorest children lose.

Every day we let politicians, policy makers, and billionaires tell us money doesn't matter.
Our poorest children lose.

Every day we let politicians, policy makers, and billionaires call forcing our poorest schools to compete against each other for limited resources.
Our poorest schools, children, and teachers lose.

Every day we remain silent and apathetic.
God sees us.

Every day children are reduced to test scores.
We lose a bit of our souls.

Trust me on this one thing. Children grow up, and they are going to ask us why we let this happen?
It's time to draw our lines in the sand.
Opt Out Parents,
March Teachers,
Preachers Preach,
No more lord.
Jesse The Walking Turner

If you like to listen to the tune that inspired my morning walk this gray cold icy rain soak last day of march...its that old prison spiritual "No More Lord" cover by Melody Gardot
Singing and walking...

"Tell me where, Tell me where
Tell me where he can be found
And I'll never turn back no more.
Down on my knees, down on my knees
Try and love if you please
And I'll never turn back no more.
ooh, ooh,
ooh, oh, ooh
No more, no more
No more, no more
And I'll never turn back no more.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

America does not have an Achievement Gap, it has a Moral Gap

Robert Fulghum the author of "All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten said:
“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.”

Walking Man why fight these NCLB, RTTT and ESSA education reforms?

Fight because, reforms pushing Charter Schools, Vouchers, the Common Core, and endless Standardized Testing harm our children.
Fight because, for 15 years these reformers have failed our children, parents, teachers, and our most needy public schools.
Fight because, these reformers provide cover for injustice and equity in our public schools.
Fight because, these reformers have turned our children in to data and profits for CEO vulture profiteers.
Fight because, placing emphasis on High-Stakes Testing labels and tracks Black, Brown, Poor, and Special Education children into failure.
Fight because, education reform history and data have always demonstrated new rigorous standards and new high-stakes testing are merely more of the same old failed 100-year-old promises. Promises that have always done more harm than good.
Fight because, they limit imagination.
Fight because, they reduce a child myths, dreams, and hopes to data.
Fight because, their push for endless rigor is killing laughter and love in our public schools.

Walking Man why are you fighting these education reformers?
I have fought against these reformers under three Presidents: Bush, Obama, and now Trump.
I have fought against the education reforms of the five United States Secretaries of Education, Page, Spellings, Duncan, King, and now Betty DeVos?
I fight because their "Achievement Gap Policies" are a moral rejection of that first and foremost fundamental truth to "Do No Harm".
We Americans need to start asking our leaders; why school choice policies without equity have become the core of their education reforms?

Walking Man, how can we recognize harmful education reform?
Any education reform insisting that school resources do not matter?
Harms our children.
Any education reform insisting that class sizes do not matter?
Harms our children.
Any education reform insisting that poverty does not matter?
Harms our children.
Any education reform insisting that classroom resources do not matter?
Harms our children.
Any education reform abandoning and forcing our nation's poorest schools to close; while giving billions and special treatments to private entities to replace those schools with for profit schools.
Harms our children.
Any education reform that supports programs that place new teachers with less training and preparation in our poorest and most needy schools.
Harms our most vulnerable children.
Any education reform that spends hundreds of billions on reform programs to promote higher test scores as the solutions to childhood trauma, inequity, poverty, and the "School to Prison Pipeline".
Harms our children.
Any education reform that fails to powerfully support Music, Art, and Physical Education for all in our public schools.
Harms our children.
Any education reform that blames children, parents, teachers, and local public schools as the problem.
Harms our children.
Any education reform that fails to stalwartly support our nation's public school "First Responders", Parents, School Nurses, School librarians, Counselors, Special Educators, Literacy Specialists, Classroom Teachers, Music and Art Teachers, Para-Professionals, Custodians, Principals and Vice Principles.
Harms our children.
Any education reform that tracks and labels children.
Harms our children.

Walking Man isn't this a political fight?
This struggle isn't Red States vs Blue States.
This isn't urban vs rural communities.
This isn't wealthy vs poor schools.
This is not a political fight.
It is the MORAL fight of our lifetime.
Anyone Fighting to uphold that first and foremost fundamental truth "Do No Harm" in our public schools is engaged in a Moral fight.
America does not have an Achievement Gap.
America has a Moral Gap.

Are there education reforms we should fight for?
We should fight for education reforms that demand equity and justice for all children.
We should fight for reforms that demand art for all.
We should fight for reforms that demand music for all.
We should fight for reforms that demand physical education for all children every day.
We should fight for reforms that demand we reduce class sizes.
We should fight for reforms that demand special education services for every child in need.
We should fight for reforms that demand more Librarians, Media specialists, Literacy Specialists, Counselors, Math Tutors, and School nurses.
We should fight for reforms that demand that all schools be modern, clean and safe.
We should fight for reforms that demand wrap around services in poor public schools.
We should fight for reforms that demand summer education and recreational programs for all children.

Walking Man, have an idea Walking Man in mind?
Let us all walk out.
Let us all Walk Out, Walk back in, and hold an all day Teach-in?
Imagine every parent, every student, and every educator walking out, then walking back in, and then skipping those old lessons, and holding a Teach-in Day across America in 2017.

What would such a Walk Out/Teach-in look like Walking Man?
First it means, no one stays home, no one abandons our public schools, or fails to educate our students. It would be a symbolic walk out, a walk right back in to teach about our nation's long struggle for equity and justice in our public schools. This walk out/teach-in requires parent organizations and community grass roots activist groups be deeply involved in the planning of all walk out, and the teach in events. To be not just supporters, but active participants from start to end.
We should "Walk Out" again at the last school bell sounds, and go rally for education reform that respects children, teachers. and our public schools at our state capitols.
It's just one idea.
It's not perfect.
To be honest any idea rooted in action are worthy ones.

But, what if everyone walked out?
These education reforms that reduce children to data and profits would crumble.
A simple democracy truth to power. The people hold the key to change not policy makers or legislators.
When we the people act together our children win.

What if no one walks out?
It does not matter as long as one parent is fighting back against education reforms that are harming our children.
Truth to power matters.
It does not matter as long as long as one teacher is fighting back against education reforms that are demoralizing and harming our teachers.
Truth to power matters.
It does not matter as long as one citizen is fighting back against education reforms that harms public education.
Truth to power matters.
As long as one person is fighting back hope lives.

Walking Man what can I do?
Coretta Scot 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.”
You can reject the violence of:
Public school neglect,
Punishing mothers,
Ghetto housing,
Lack of health care, and
Finally you can reject the violence of poverty at every step.

What should we call people who are indifference to school reforms that reduce children to test scores?
George Bernard Shaw Irish author, humanitarian, and Nobel Prize winner said:
"The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that's the essence of inhumanity."
If we are silent?
We are sinful.
If we are apathetic?
Then we are sinful.
When education reforms are indifferent to inequity and injustice?
Education becomes inhumane.
Inhumane education reforms are sinful violent acts against our most vulnerable children.
Such reforms cannot be labeled the moral actions of a nation who cares for all children.
The time to stop talking Achievement Gap, and start talking Moral Gap is now.

Called me one moral man looking for a million moral others,
Jesse The Walking Turner

If you like to listen to the song that inspired my walk this morning its Steve Earls Steve Hammer >

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

Marcus Garvey said: “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” Where does the Grand child of an Irish Immigrant learn about Marcus Garvey one of Jamaica National Heroes? He learned about Garvey from his Irish Grand Father who loved watching the world go by, and always recognized a fellow brother in arms. Marcus Garvey is an Jamaican exile little Jess. England made many exiles in their own lands. I like Garvey Little Jess. Put him on your reading list along with W.B. Yeats.

Where does a grand child of immigrants learn about his roots? Not in school people! Not in some bar! He grabs the passing stories of he/she hears as their elders pass. He/she reads it in the books not assigned at school. He/she hears it in the songs never played on the radio. He/she feels it in the dancers all around him.

Tomorrow is Saint Patrick Day. I was blessed by Irish immigrant grand parents who left us a legacy of cultural thirst. It was understood and appreciated that school would teach us American history, but faith and everything Irish was left to to them to teach. We learned history through our Irish Rebel songs. We just don’t play them, we discussed them, we debated them, and we learned from them. Our history crossed that ocean in song and poem. We learned that Ireland long a province be, a nation once again. you come to know Ireland heroes through our music. Through Irish music we learned that neither 800 years of oppression, or the Great Famine could keep us down.

We learned to pray on your knees as soon as we could knee, We learned that while our faith may not be perfect, but in our darkest hour it will carry us through any storm. For our faith is our rock.
We found pride in our dancing, and we learned that our dances carried our souls across that ocean. We are Lord’s of the Dance.

Immigrant Grand Parents Thomas and Kathleen taught their children to celebrate Irish conversion to Christianity on Saint Patrick’s Day not plastic green hats and drink. It is a day of holy Obligation not a party. We go to church, we pray, we give thanks, we watch the parade, and we eat our tri-color dinner of Cabbage, potatoes, and carrots. We reflect on who we are, who we were, and who we shall stay.
Our 20017 plan for my wife and I is just like our first Saint Patrick’s day together 33 years ago in 1984 simple Mass at Saint Patrick cathedral, watch the parade, but in 2017 we eat dinner with our now New Yorker daughter, and remind her green hats and beer haven’t anything to do with being Irish.

So very Blessed to be the Grand Child of Irish Immigrants who came to call New York home, and who made it and us Irish,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you like to travel down that memory lane when New York was Irish (When New York Was Irish by Mary O’Dowd) Happy Saint Patrick Day, Jesse The Walking Man Turner

Yee Mighty Young Ones Rise Up

Malcolm X said: “I believe that there will be ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those who do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the system of exploitation. I believe that there will be that kind of clash, but I don't think it will be based on the color of the skin...”
Malcolm X anticipated a different future. He understood that change is bigger than faith, skin color and class. He challenged us to draw a new line in the sand. A line between those who fight for justice for all, and those who fight to maintain injustice. The old world is crumbling, the old lines are fading, and our young people are different. As Bob Dylan sang long ago..."The times are a changing" The struggle between being oppressed and the oppressors has always been real. White Nationalism is coming out of the shadows, but the future I see is at Black Lives Matter rallies where I see a hold lot of White and Black Hand holding, at our Women's Marches, and at those rallies against the band at our Airports. Change is riding a new wave, a young wave, and they are tearing down old walls every day.
Rise up young ones,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you want to here what inspired this Walking Man to walk on this snow cold day....its Bob Marley's "Stand Up For Your Rights"

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The teachers they're just lazy

The teachers they're just lazy
Barry Lane, has this beautiful song about his favorite teacher, Miss Foley. It's a beautiful tribute to what it means to be a teacher. There is a bit of satire in one of the lines in the song. "The teachers they're just lazy, that's what people say, they baby sit until 3:00, and then their home all day, think of those vacations all that time away."
He put it there to reflect the growing lack of respect for teachers that has become popular these days.
Then it's goes on to show his teacher love....
"Miss Foley never married,
She never had offspring,
Unless you count the 600 she cheered on to sing,
We rarely come to visit her,
We hardly ever write,
But she follows us around each day,
And sits with us each night.
...If I never had a teacher,
Who would I be today?"
If you want to understand how important teachers are? Then all should study Barry Lane's work, or walk a mile in their shoes for 10-12 years. You know you really don't know someone until you walk in their shoes. Helen Caldecott, an Australian physician and author said this about teachers: “Teachers, I believe, are the most responsible and important members of society because their professional efforts affect the fate of the earth.”

Teachers who are they?
At 61, I have walked many miles in these teacher shoes of mine. Something has changed over the years in my humble opinion. It used to be when I said I was a teacher, people called me a saint, but something is different now. For the past decade and half, it has become popular with policy makers, legislators, and our nation's CEO(s) to ridicule, blame, and disrespect teachers. Who are these often underpaid and unappreciated teachers? Our policy makers, billionaires, and many legislators have continuously worked to make it harder to become a teacher. While at the same time working diligently pass regulations and legislation to ensure private charter schools don't have to follow the same teaching standards.
You can talk to veteran teachers, try asking them if they are encouraging any of their children or friends to become teachers? There was a time I encouraged people to become teachers. These days, I am quiet as are many others.
A decade and half of growing disrespect for teachers is about to lead to the biggest teacher shortest in American Public Education history. What are our legislators, policy makers, and billionaires doing to prevent that shortest? Making it harder to become teachers. They are rewarding their campaign contributors with new alternative quick route programs for teachers, like Teach For America, and other quick paths to teaching.

Perhaps after they finish destroying the teaching profession, and our public schools they'll start on the medical profession.
You Know a Doctor for America five-week summer program, and then learn as you go on the operating table.
Do they really need to take that Medical School Admissions test?
Do they really need to medical school?
Who needs that silly medical residency anyway?
Once they destroy medical education. I forgot they'll call it privatization. Then you can trust every doctor will be ready to learn on you, your children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces. You know can trust the privatization to maximized their profit margin. As for you well, just them.

Back to teachers
After having as gone through rigorous under graduate teacher preparation, spending hundreds of filed placement hours in classroom, student teaching, and passing three different high-stakes standardized exams they will get their initial certification for teaching. Then most states like Connecticut require a master's degree for your professional certification.
What does that master's degree experience look like? This morning I am proctoring our Literacy Master's Degree exam this morning. These teachers are about to graduate. There are 24 dedicated teachers sitting down to our three-hour exam with no true or false questions, or multiple-choice one. They will spend three hours answering just two questions based on a diagnostic case scenario of a struggling reader that changes for each exam. The case might involve a special education learner, an English Language Learner student, a student struggling academically, and can be any student in any grade from Pre-K to 12. We mix those scenarios each time, but rest assured our teachers have been well prepared for which ever diagnostic case scenario comes up.
Once they get the case:
They critically examine, analyze, and evaluate data from multiple sources, 

Develop an intervention plan,
A plan that is individually unique, and
Linguistically, socially, culturally, racially relevant to this child.

Then, they will explain how they will implement, advocate and communicate their plan to students, parents, teachers, support staff, and administrator’s advocacy and best practice research. Each teacher must support their answer using best practice research and their professionals. That's just question number one, trust me it's a kick-ass question. The second question changes from year to year, but it's another kick-ass question. Teachers in our program spend 2-3 years taking advance graduate courses, studying, answering research questions, taking in class exams, writing research papers, creating and developing special projects demonstrating their abilities to apply what they are learning, working individually, collaboratively with other teachers and professionals, provide 100 of hours of free tutoring, and writing in-depth case studies demonstrating real time application of the diagnostic instruments they are learning about, and developing and administering research-based interventions to various type of learners. The out of pocket cost for this degree at Central Connecticut State University is roughly 25,000 plus dollars. That is a deal, because we are a public university. At a private university, the cost is at least double, and in some cases triple. Our teachers also have to pass another state challenging high-stakes standardized exam to be certified as well.

Time to turn the computers and lights off
Three hours later they all gone, I have uploaded their exams using numbers rather than names for the purpose of blind reviewing. I have printed two copies each for every exam, and attached the scoring rubrics as well. I have known these teachers for nearly three years, I love each and every one. I have come to see their gifts and talents in practice, you know the important stuff that no exams could ever measure. During that time, they have amazed me, lifted many struggling young readers, and inspired me to give my best every day.
Its time log out of the computers, and turn off the lights. I can't help feeling our legislators, policy makers, education reformers, and nation's CEO's are doing more harm than good to our children, our public schools, and to our nation's teachers.
Lately, more and more I find myself listening to Barry Lane whose music seems to record every hurt being done to America's children and teachers. Still, I find myself singing Barry Lane's Miss Foley song, but feeling sick each time that satirical line comes up: "The teachers they're just lazy, that's what people say, they baby sit until 3:00, and then their home all day, think of those vacations, all that time away"
So, America take it from the man who has fought this insanity that reduces education to test scores, pits poor school against poor school, and gives away billions to CEOs who can break every rule. Teachers are busy as hell, doing their best with broken education reform policies that are destroying their profession. The problem is not our teachers, but our legislators, policy makers, and profiteers who are crushing hope, empathy, humanity more and more each day.
A view from the trenches,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you want to listen to the song that inspire my morning walk today? Its Barry Lane "If you never had a teacher"