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Sunday, August 20, 2017

170 years of equity and jusitce delayed in our public schools is White Supremacy

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Ask any White Supremacist if Black, Brown, Jewish, and Immigrant children deserve equity and justice in our public schools?

They will answer: NO!
Ask America if Black, Brown, and immigrant children deserve equity and justice in our public schools?
America will say yes, BUT!
America's Policy Makers and Elected Leaders answer. We are working on it, someday. Lately it is until then let the schools that educate Black, Brown, Immigrant, and Poor Children compete against each other for limited resources. That Someday tune, began in the the first days of public education in America. Over 170 years of inequality and injustice, and counting.


Somewhere along the way someday became the rallying cry of standardization. We are working on it. Someday, until then we will use test scores and rigorous standards. America started its love affair with standardization and testing in the Nineteenth Century. Since 2000, education reform policies have added make poor schools compete against each other for limited resources. Test scores and educational standards without equity has been the norm since the National Education Association's Committee of Ten recommended the standardization of  high school curriculum, (1892).
I would argue for the past 125 standardization has provided cover for an America that refuses to do the right time for all for Black, Brown, and Immigrant children?  If it provides cover for not doing the right thing for Black, Brown, and Immigrant children? Then it is racist, and more aligned with White Supremacy than any American educator wants to admit. 


Coretta Scott King said: “I must remind you that starving a child is violence. Suppressing a culture 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.”


In Coretta's words above we find this line " Neglecting school children is violence". When we accept equity and justice someday. We are accepting violence against school children today. When I read "Michelle Alexander's "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness", I recognized a School to Prison Pipeline rooted in Jim Crow. 
I would argue, our public-school system is committing acts of violence against Black, Brown, and Immigrant children. We can add acts of violence against poor children and special education children as well, for they too have been waiting for equity and justice. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in his 1963 letter from a Birmingham Jail "Justice too long delayed is justice denied" Ascribing it to a "distinguished jurist of yesterday". Let me say this publicly, and make it as clear as I am able. When equity and justice is delayed for over 170 years in our public schools? Then, that system is more aligned with the violent acts of White Supremacy than anyone wants to admit.

Equity tomorrow is justice delayed, and justice delayed is INJUSTICE,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner 

If you like to listen the song that inspire my morning walk this morning...it is Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAGkuPaatdc







Thursday, August 17, 2017

The liberation begins somehwere between page 1 and the soul


My vacation in the Mountains is coming to an end this weekend. I have fished a little, walked and prayed in the Lord's Cathedral Forest, seen some local theater, walked the streets of small town USA,  wrote a little, and reflected deeply while reading Ta-Nahisi Coates "Between "The World and Me" again. A person who wishes to know themselves must read because, books are our mirrors.

Louise Rosenblatt's Seminole Work "Literature as Exploration" freed the reader from the text: She took us outside the cover of the text: “The reader brings to the work personality traits, memories of past events, present needs and preoccupations, a particular mood of the moment and a particular physical condition."
She views the possibility of reading as a transactional experience offering the reader the opportunity to walk in another person's shoes. That walk becomes a transformation experience that binds the reader to the world, the author, the text, and is unique and different for every reader. It changes us. She opens the door to multiple perspectives, and frees readers from the slavery of those literacy critics exposing their responses’ rule. Those critics who in many many ways are the protector of a Cannon Literature more rooted in White Supremacy than anyone dare admit.

As I read Ta-Nehisi Coates, I know I can't be Black, can't cast off my privilege, but I can walk a little in his shoes. In reading his words: “Then the mother of the murdered boy rose, turned to you, and said, “You exist. You matter. You have value. You have every right to wear your hoodie, to play your music as loud as you want. You have every right to be you. And no one should deter you from being you. You have to be you. And you can never be afraid to be you.” I can begin to understand just a milometer of what it means to be Black in America. I cannot change being White. However I can begin to fathom the evil of an injustice that Black Americans live with from birth to the grave. I can't change the world, but I can change me.

I have marched with my Black Lives Matters brothers and sisters, but my role is not to speak, not to push to the front, but to listen, learn, and support the moral quest for racial justice in America. I cannot be Black, but I can stand with my Black brothers and sisters who have never known justice in America. I can do this, because of the books I have read.


But, books alone are not enough. I was blessed to be the last White Boy in my neighborhood, and instead of feeling isolated, afraid, and alone. I was made welcomed, loved, and embraced by every shade of Black and Brown there is. I was immersed in a world of color and languages that still feed my soul today. God blessed me with the most beautiful extended family any one could ever have. Somehow that experience makes the reading of Ta-Nehisi Coates a perfect bridge to understanding that Black Lives Matter.

Rudine Sims Bishop said “Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created or recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of a larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books.”  So, I am stepping through sliding glass doors, when I read" Ta-Nehisi words:
“The pursuit of knowing was freedom to me, the right to declare your own curiosities and follow them through all manner of books. I was made for the library, not the classroom. The classroom was a jail of other people’s interests. The library was open, unending, free. Slowly, I was discovering myself.”

I am discovering this baggage of White Privilege I carry, and the hint of a possibility of becoming something greater.  The library is my personal key to unlocking that White Supremacist jail that has for far too long held White America back from living those words in our nation's pledge " One Nation Under God, with Liberty and Justice for All."

I am a better man, because Ta-Nehisi Coates opened his Black soul to all who dare to walk a mile in his shoes. I am 4 days from returning to the struggle for justice for all. I plan to hit the ground running on day five,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you like to listen to the tune that inspire my walk this morning in these woods this morning...it's Play For Change cover of "A Change is Gonna Come" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zDeBIA-vQ8

What does Evil in America Sound like

What does evil in America sound like? The link below is to an interview with the KKK leaders members of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, based in Pelham, N.C. They openly state they are glad that Heather Hayer dies, and people were injured. They applaud the actions of young man who killed young Heater Hayer. It ends with one of them purposely twisting the last words of Jesus Christ just before he died from “Forgive them for they know not what they are doing” to Forgive them for they know what They’re doing”. This interviewed may be too graphic for some, but it is the picture of hatred in America. http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article167303682.html 
I met Elsie Wiesel once in Bayonne New Jersey nearly 40 years ago. We had taken a group of adolescents to hear him speak in a small library. It was a intimate event, a chance to get close to him. There were less than 25 of us there. It was a perfect moment, and a perfect place to learn from one of the world’s greatest humanitarians. After he was done speaking and reflecting on “Night,” one of our young men said that can never happen in America. He said no one could have ever imagine that happening in Germany either before Hitler. He told us Germany was the intellectual capital of the world. It was the hub of philosophy, and it’s universities were temples of tolerance. If I leave you here with one message today, let it be that this could happen anywhere. Be diligent young man, and never be silent in the face of hatred. Hatred is on the march in America, and it offers no apologies for it ugly actions. White Supremacists are celebrating the murder of our daughters and sons. 

As a father, I can think of no greater evil than these people who dream of a race war.
As an American, I can think of no greater threat to freedom and justice White Supremacy.
As a man of faith, I am lost in their lack of remorse, their lack of humanity, and their endless hatred of humanity.
Americans, must fight evil,
Americans, must stand against evil,
Americans, must not be silent,
Justice is under attack in America, and they have taken to killing our daughters,
Americans must reject their hate,
If we shall over come, we cannot stand silent in the face of evil,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1osKWCDXl40 Link to Pete Seeger “We Shall Over Come 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Charlottesville's Teachers' call to action.



In Maya Angelou's Inaugural Poem "On The Pulse of Morning", we find these words:
"For this bright morning dawning for you.
History, despite its wrenching pain
Cannot be unlived, but if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.


Lift up your eyes upon
This day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream." (1/20/93)


The Day, can't break new until we lift up our eyes, and view this back to school year as something more than another same old, same old, go along to get along school year. 

We must face history's wrenching pain, realizing this is not only about after Charlottesville, but about after: slavery, Columbus,  wars on labor, women, immigrants, and people of diverse faiths.  
After Charlottesville, back to school should be, America's invitation to study hatred in America.
After Charlottesville, back to school should be, our invitation to talk about culturally relevant curriculum.
After Charlottesville, back to school must become the undoing of defining education success as higher standardized test scores.
After
Charlotteville, history should be faced with enough courage to not be lived again.

Valerie Strauss's August 13, The Answer Sheet column we find: "
The first thing teachers should do when school year begins, is talk about hatred in America. Here’s help." Valerie Strauss is asking teachers to make sure that going back to school this year is different. This is a must read for every educator in America.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2017/08/13/the-first-thing-teachers-should-do-when-school-starts-is-talk-about-hatred-in-america-heres-help/?utm_term=.7c0222b7a3f3

Let us start:
Perhaps the best place to begin is to reject education reform policies rooted in high-stakes testing, and sanitized curriculum of academic resistance.  I have lived sanitized curricula, resisted it, and learned to teach against it.

Before Charlottesville:
A little over twenty years ago before I became a university professor I taught Native American Tohono O'odham and Pasqual Yaqui Upward Bound students. Many were struggling in their individual Tucson high schools. Schools where the history books and English books did not tell their story.  Instead the text books there denied 500 years of broken treaties, lies, and atrocities against their people.

What many considered academic failure in the lives of Native American students, I came to view as resistance to a curriculum that did not see them, or value their history. At the time, being a young doctoral student, I discovered that academic failure in oppressed communities is well documented in the research in public education. "Resistance theory proposes that students actively or passively resist learning as a way of responding to the oppressive school system.  Resistance theories demonstrate how individuals negotiate and struggle with structures and create meanings of their own from these interactions.” (Bernal & Ramp; Solorzano, 2001, p. 315).

I also discovered in the literature,  Liverpool England (Home to The Beatles) had young people resist similar schooling.  Their so-called academic failure reflected not a lack of intelligence, but a resistance from a public-school system that viewed their parents, the work of their fathers and mothers, and their way of living as undesirable.

I recognized it in my own urban schooling.  Our teachers often told us "You kids live in the ghetto, and school is your ticket out". But, that ghetto was our home; our parents and families were not broken.  They were our working class heroes.
We found liberation from the oppression of public education, blasting out of radios in our kitchens and cars, on the records playing in our living rooms, and Ghetto Blasters on our street corners. In between War's "Wild Rodriquez", The Temptations "Poppa was a Rolling Stone", George Clinton's "Tear the Roof of Sucker" we found the Clash's "This is England". By the time, we found Bob Marley "Trench Town Rock" we were fully immersed in our liberation of resistance. While we did not find our stories in school, we were finding our stories, lives, and views of the world validated in the music calling us from the radio waves coming from outside our neighborhoods and even from across the Atlantic.

 
I never found academic failure, but then again, I wasn't looking or it.  I was searching searching for academic success. On the journey, I found  academic resistance not failure in my Native American students in Tucson, AZ.  Something well documented in the literature of resistance theory.   Through my Tucson students, I was able to see it in my own school experiences.  I was taught by some of my teachers to "get out" as soon as I could;  not to stay and improve the very streets I grew up on. To this day I  often go back to the streets of my boyhood home, but I don't feel "at home".   I lost something beautiful, a future possibility of making a better life right there in the hood that to this day defines me. A great deal of urban education in improvised commuities is about getting out not staying in. What I failed to see was getting out meant losing some of me. 


Dr. Yetta Goodman took this young urban doctoral student under her wing  at the University of Arizona. More than anyone else,  she made sure I earned my Ph.D.  She once called me "Our Ghetto Doc Jesse".  It was  Yetta  who taught me to use my past in order to build my future. I learned that my past was the fire that could see me home. I would use that fire, and the music of my liberation to feed my research; I would come to understand that much of the academic failure in oppressed communities is in fact academic resistance. Dr. Goodman in taking me under her wing, defines what is best in American Higher Education. The mentoring of one generation of researchers to another. 

For my dissertation "Creating A Transactional Classroom" I had been given the go ahead to shift the focus of readings in my Native American Upward Bound classes from the Classics of Western Culture,  that I had studied in high school, to the readings of Native American culture.  This was not  a simplistic decision.   There is a strong belief among many that a greater focus on the "cannon" of Western Culture helps prepare Native Students for the kinds of reading and writing they will encounter in college. This is true for some educators in all diverse communities. I would examine that belief with the director of the Upward Bound Program, Dr. Angie Listo. She is a member of the Tohono O'odham nation, and like me, she saw her own education in the Literature of Resistance Theory. After deep discussions, research, and reflection, we made the shift.   My dissertation documents the   successful academic journey of these Upward Bound students.   Their success grew out of a change of curricula, one that focuses on culturally relevant teaching.

Where to go after Charlotteville:
American history is not mono-cultural, or mono-lingual.  
It is one of the most diverse histories in the world.   
American history should be the telling of powerful truths, that when faced with courage, will produce the best symphony of diversity ever heard! 
We have within our reach the ability to come to know ourselves like no other people before. When curriculum is culturally, racially, economically, and linguistically irrelevant to learners ~ it fractures hope.
It injures the individual.
It breaks learners. 
Academic Resistance becomes survival.
Schools become the planting ground for dissent.
  

President Trump needs to know what Makes America Great is not boastful, but the humbling of a public school experience where we come to know each other, come to face our past, and come together as Americans.  What makes America great is not pitting one against the other, but finding what brings us together. We can be a great people if we face history's wrenching pain with dignity, respect, and honor.  

I find truth and hope in Maya Angelou's poem: "On The Pulse of Morning,"  
Live a memory never forgotten, I still hear her reciting
"Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands,
Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For a new beginning.
Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.

The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out and upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.
No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.

Here, on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister's eyes, and into
Your brother's face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope --
Good morning."

 

I pray for the Angels of Justice like Heather Heyer who gave their all.  For the 19 who were injured, for Charlottesville, and for America.   With Peace, Love, and Understanding.
I promise this back to school year will be different in my classes,
I shall be more,
Do more, and
Live the life that Maya Angelou begs us all to live:
Good morning New School Year,
Good Morning America,


If you would like to listen to the tune that inspired my  walk in these New Hampshire Woods this morning...it’s The Clash "This is England".  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5vAn3Fe1TA
Whose America?
Our America!
Jesse The Walking Man Turner 
 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Come gather we dreamers, justice calls


In his 1964 Noble Prize acceptance speech Dr. Martin Luther Kind said: " I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality."
I refuse to accept a view of Education Reform rooted in schools for profit,
I refuse to accept that the way to desegregation is through closing public schools, and replacing them with even more segregated Charter Schools,
I refuse to accept that inequity and justice in our public school system is to expensive to fix,
I refuse to accept the political compromises of racism that have weaken 1954 Brown Vs The of Education,
I refuse to be part of an evil silence in the face of racism,
I refuse to accept a status quo that forces our poorest schools to compete against each other for resources,
I refuse to be apathetic when policy makers, politicians, and CEO's reduce education to test scores.

I have no power,
I have no riches,
I have no Wall Street CEOs in my back pocket,
No powerful well funded lobby groups represents me,
I am just one person.
But, I am one person who heard one man speak about a dream,
I am one person who fully accepts that legacy of the dreamer,
I have two legs made for marching,
I have a song to sing,
We Shall Over Come.
The Wealthy, the powerful, and the connected can not dampen that dream planted in my heart by our nation's dreamer,
Rise up keepers of the dream,
Come gather we dreamers together,
Justice calls,
Equity calls,
Hope lives,
And we shall over come.
Jesse The Walking Man Turner has never stopped marching for that reality of a daybreak of peace and brotherhood.

If you like to listen to the tune I listen to walking up the Monadnock mountain in New Hampshire this morning...its Peter Seeger singing "We Shall Over Come" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVQ6Y8szaBQ

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Go back to high school


                              My return to my Maze
      I am flying out to Tucson this Tuesday evening, some 20 years after I left teaching high school. I am going to a conference. The plan is to go to the conference, and visit the Tohono O'odham nation with my friend Angie Listo. To try to visit as many of my old students as possible. Those young Tohono O'odham students the ones who taught me how lead with my heart, and trust that there are no better curricula guides than those in the hearts you teach. I can't wait to step off that plane, and feel the desert beneath my feet. This is my opportunity to slow down and reflect where I am now, and where my teaching is going next. It's another turn of my Maze.

      According to O'odham oral history, the Man in the Maze design depicts the experiences and choices individuals make on their journey through life. In the middle of the "maze", a person finds their dreams and goals. When one reaches the center, they have their final to look back on the path and the choices they made. The Sun God then greets them and blesses them as they leave this life to the next one. At least this is the way the Maze was explained to me by Danny Lopez a Tohono O'odham elder who pass away some years back. He said the maze is different for everyone, and more than anything else it represents that people are all born to learn and reflect. This life is only a stopping point before the next one. Jesse, we need to look ahead and look back. We need to slow down from time to time to know we are standing right now. This is how we know where we are going next.

                     My Maze ten years ago
      We need to feel confident with the language we write and speak. We are all born into a world of language, and confidence is not some fixed or timed event that happens spontaneously, or at the same time for everyone. School is often the place where time for competence becomes fixed. All ninth graders must write bio poems, all tenth graders will write persuasive essays and pass their state exit exams, and so on... The gift of the written word is like grace. We all know it is there, want it, need it, search for it, it is elusive, but like faith it has to find us. The finding in high school is difficult. The focus is far too often fixed on specific tasks that require everyone to go at the same paced and in the same direction. Your Maze is not your Maze in high school.

     As a teacher of writing I have always struggled with these strange expectations. I wonder aloud “did Walt Whitman, Edgar Allen Poe, Jose Marti, Federico Lorca Garcia, or Langston Hughes spend much time writing bio poems or persuasive essays”? There is something about language that links confidence not to form, but to our need for story. We all have stories to live, to laugh, to cry, to dance and share with others. Stories that make our Maze ours. Schools are seldom the place where people share their stories, but my question is why not?
  What happens when we share our Maze? 20-years ago, the day Andrew became a writer, and shared his Maze.
      My trip to San Diego with 23 adolescents was wonderful but tiring, I returned home with laryngitis. Still every moment was worth it as we stood near the ocean, and Andrew (16 yr. old) a Tohono O’odham from the reservation who never saw the ocean read a poem by Ofelia Zepeda (an O’odham poet) called “Ocean Power.” In the Little Prince we find:
"People where you live,grow five thousand roses in one garden, yet they don't find what they are looking for...Said the Little Prince.
Antoine's Answered: "They Don't find it."
The Little Prince "And yet what they're looking for could be found in a single rose...
Antoine: "Of course."
The Little Prince: "But the eyes are blind. You have to look with the heart."


      Introducing my Teaching Rose Andrew. When he first came into my class he never said a word, never wrote a line, but always had the most beautiful smile. Andrew was not difficult, but he just never really participated. Make no mistake though Andrew was close to making some wrong turns’. He was in my prayers everyday. I had to push and push him, and still he only gave an answer when he had to, with reluctance. At one point, I thought perhaps Andrew should go to another teacher whose teaching style was more traditional, but when this suggestion was made to Andrew he requested not to be moved. After that discussion with our director, Andrew began to speak up in class. But still he never wrote much. A line here, a paragraph once in a while. Andrew passed most tests, and could write a neat tidy paragraph on almost anything, but I always expected more and that expectation of more from Andrew caused my heart to ache. I wanted him to write, to really write, and something inside me knew he could. I hoped for three years. Mem Fox in her book "Radical Reflection writes about teachers aching to care.
Andrew had promise, and show it in math and science class, but not in English. Andrew is very bright, he is no special needs child in the general sense. Andrew just hated to write. He would say, "I just don’t feel like writing."

     Just when I almost gave up on seeing any real writing from Andrew.  At the beginning of the New Year in January 97, we were getting ready to begin work on our poetry publication and prepare for our spring public readings. Something happened amazing happen while everyone was working on their poetry. Andrew handed me some pieces of paper at the end of class, and said “Jesse, do you want my poem”? Did I want to see his poem...surely he knew...I was over the moon. He handed to me on the way out. I had a week to cherish it. I read it repeatedly. This class I teach is an Upward Bound writing class, we meet every Saturday for two hours so I had plenty of time to think about what to do the next time class met. I was so excited and happy with his poem I thought this is not just a poem this is a great poem. I typed it up, and made copies for everyone in class and had it enlarged to poster size!!

     In class when I asked Andrew to read he said he would prefer if I read it for him. As I read it I emptied three years of hope into his poem, I wanted him to hear his soul beating in my reading. When I had finished reading there was a moment of silence then every one clapped - and the grin on Andrew’s face was better than cotton candy. After class, he told me that he wanted to be part of the Poetry Reading, he wanted to practice with everyone during the week, and he wanted to know would I (once again) be taping this on video. My smile at that moment expressed the most glorious moment I personally have ever had as a teacher.
 

     Andrew practiced and read his poem in public for the first-time last semester. He was wonderful. Andrew has not stopped writing since. When Andrew read Ofelia’s poem "Ocean Power" at the ocean last week-he started "We O’odham people have important things to say about life, and we need to write them down on paper like Ofelia. Ocean my name is Andrew. I just might become a great O'odham writer some day like Ofelia Zepeda”. Then he read-and I had to turn away just for a moment, to dry the sweetest tears any teacher has ever shed. Later Andrew said “Hey teach, I did OK didn’t I”?

     Yes, he did OK-and he is the miracle child that I know will turn out fine, just as E. B. White knew Charlotte was special, because it is not often someone comes along and is both “a true friend and a good writer,” I knew that moment Andrew like Charlotte was both.

      Looking back, I think Andrew did not win any race to write, but in real writing it is not how fast you get there that counts, but what the writer writes.

     Here is Andrew's poem- Remember he is allowing you an insight into the world of a young Native American mind-not very different than other young Native Americans - respect his view. To really see the power of his poem - you need to see his chest expand and his head rise up - and the proud look on his face as he reads the last line, with a shy smile.
 

     In 1997, Andrew Thomas is a 16-year-old Tohono O’odham teenager who attends Baboqurivari High School on the Tohono O’odham reservation outside Tucson Arizona read his poem before a public audience at the University of Arizona. His rose bloomed.

The Spectral Question


What is an Indian?
We are always answering this question for:
The Whites,
The Mexicans,
The African Americans,
Even ourselves.

The question varies,
But remains the same,
Sometimes even poorly stated,

Sometimes even answered for us,
But, usually adds up to one question,
What is an Indian?

They say he is a person who doesn’t work,
But, gets a monthly check from the government,
They say that the Indians are lazy.
 

Still others say:
He is a man who got a raw deal from the government,
Therefore, he deserves what he gets from the government.


Others say:
He is a drunkard,
Who never mounts to anything.
So therefore, terminate the government checks
Let him make his own way in the white man’s society


Myself, I do not see an Indian in this light,
My question is not who is the Indian,
But why others cannot,
SEE Indians as a unified group,
All different in their ways,
But held together,
By a common bond,
Called,
“CULTURE.”

I see us as one
Who fought courageously against overwhelming odds.
Never giving in,
Despite every treaty broken,
One after the other.
I see the Indian as an individual,
Who when this America was in danger,
Went to the front voluntarily,
And gave their last final measure of devolution
In all your wars,
We came forward to defend this land.

I see the Indian as a group of people
Who are proud,
And rightfully so,
Because they possess the secrets of life,
No white man has ever discovered.


As a group, even in broken English,
Our children are told how important it is to get an education,
In this modern world.


I see the Indians as people,
Who crossed a cultural barrier into the dominate society,

Becoming the best in their chosen professions,
I see Indians in the:
Law,
Politics,
Athletics,
Medicine,
Military service.

So, when I think of the question
What is an Indian?
MY CHEST SUDDENLY EXPANDS,
And I think,
I AM AN INDIAN

By Andrew Thomas a true friend and good writer ©1997.


A little update on Andrew. His poem was published in Red Ink, a national Native American Journal published out of the University of Arizona. He graduated secondary school, the first in his family to ever accomplish this task. He went on Johnson and Wales College of hotel and culinary arts. He left after his first year, and join the United States Air Force. Andrew never follows a straight and narrow path, but he always finishes what he starts. My hope is he found his way home to live his life in the way that would make his elders proud. My heart is looking forward to seeing my students, my fellow travelers through the Maze, and sharing that everywhere I walk in the classroom they walk with me.
Roll on silver bird,
Roll on land of the sun,
Roll on,
Roll on,
Roll on,
Bring me back home,
Slow down,
Turn me around,
Give me that reflective look back,
Put me back on the good road,
Let me grow some more,
Live some more,
Learn some more,
Grow some more,
And help my bones age gracefully,
May my Maze journey be long, proud, humble, and true.

If you are wondering what song this walking man is listening to on his walk through the woods this morning it'a not a Tohono O'odham song. It is Amazing Grace Cherokee-Prayer.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hA0b4eZTlrA

My Tohono O'odham students taught me that curriculum has to be culturally accurate and relevant, something Nez Perece Chief Joseph tried to tell the White Man over a hundred years ago.




Saturday, July 8, 2017

What if, Policy Makers and Legislators listened to teachers, parents and children?



Got this little beautiful "What if" dream 

What if our policy makers and legislators listened to Teachers, Parents, and Children?

Well then:
All this meaningless testing would end.
Art, would be part of every learning day.
Music, would be part of every learning day.
Physical Education, would be part of every learning day.
Every child who needs a Reading Specialist, Special Education Teacher, Social Worker, School Counselor, or School Nurse would have one.
Child Center Learning would matter again.
Computers would not be substitutes for teachers, but just another learning tool.
Teachers would be appreciated.
Parents would be real school partners.
Children would be gifts.


What if our Policy Makers and Legislators stopped listening to Tech Billionaires, Wall Street CEOs and Test Publishers
 who see profits not children in our public schools?

Well then:
They would stop getting massive campaign contributions from people who want to privatize our local public schools, and profit off our children, parents, teachers, and public schools.
They would realize they work for the people, and not Wall Street.

Blue State or Red State would not matter to states that put public education and children first. 
They would have to earn our votes not take them for granted.

What if standards stopped being benchmarks?

Well then:
Teachers could see the child not the test score.
Teachers could meet children where they are at, and move them forward.
Kindness, respect, and dignity would become the only standards we need.
Children would learn to love learning, and be prepared to meet every challenge needed in a world where they will change careers often.

What if the teachers and parents stood up for our children?

Well then:
Equity and justice for all would come first in our public school system.
Our public schools would be the pride of the nation.
Our public schools would become community hubs and catalysts for healing, hope, joy, and centers for the love of learning.
Until then, I'll keep fighting for the public schools our children deserve.
Come join the fight to Save Our Public Schools,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner 


If you like to listen to the song that inspired my walk this morning....its the version of "Teach Your Children" done by Play For Change 
https://playingforchange.com/videos/teach-your-children-live-in-australia/