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Thursday, May 5, 2022

#OSOSTeachTruth and me


The idea that there are some places in America, that don’t want history teachers to use the term Nazis, frightens me.  I am committed to teaching the truth because it is the only lesson offering the possibility to change the world. 

My grandfather introduced me to Dr. King's Principles of Non-Violence at an early age. Back in our day, everyone walked to and from school. It was in second grade. You tended to walk with the same people. Robert always wore his Yamaka. I always thought it was cool, never really understood why he always wore it. 

5 of us young fellers would walk home together, horse playing around, boys being boys. Until one day John turned to Robert and asked why do you always wear that stupid hat? That eerie silence that comes with an impending crisis surrounded us. 

Now Robert was kind of small, I was somewhere between big and small, and John and the other two were giant bullies. We thought walking with them, laughing at their joke, kicking over a few garbage cans, and sneering at other kids, brought us protection. Boys being boys was not fun for Robert and me, it was our way of buying protection. 

I knew it as soon as the words left Robert's lips, I'm Jewish, that my Hebrew kippah. John started punching, and the other two join in and kept shouting punch the Jew. Robert was taken back, and for three of the longest seconds of my life, I stood motionless watching my friend being punched and kicked. On the fourth second, I became a Pitbull punching, kicking, biting, and shouting to leave Robert alone. Robert started fighting back, and while we did not win the fight, we won the war or at least a strange sort of peace. We kept our distance and they kept theirs. 

When I told my grandfather the story, he said son, sometimes you have to defend yourself, but I been in a World War, and my sons in another. Fighting things doesn't change anything. Then he started my education on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and that August shortly after I turned 8 years old, he took to “The People’s March in Washington DC. I struggle at times with non-violence, if you hit me, I am going to hit you back. Dr. King is the better man, I’m still working on that. I have so very far to go, but I am headed to that place. I still working on that not hitting back to being hit part. 
If you would like to learn more about the Principals of Non-Violence here is a link:

Grandfather, your namesake son has learned to turn the cheek, stand up for right, and to teach truth,

Love,                                                                                                                                                        Little Jess 

Just in case you want to learn some more about the National Days of Teaching Truth Campaign here is a link to a three-minute news story about it.

If you like to find out more about Uniting to Save Our Schools here is a link

Monday, April 18, 2022

Reading The Final Frontier

 “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.” ~ George Orwell, 1984

Florida Reject 41% of new school textbooks. “The highest number of books rejected were for grade levels K-5, where an "alarming" 71% were not appropriately aligned with Florida standards or included prohibited topics.”

Leadership in Florida reminds me that Orwell's 1984 may be more non-fiction than fiction. Here are the men who decide whose books make it into the curriculum. Therefore, Uniting to Save Our Schools is supporting the effort to make May National Days of Teaching Truth.

The fools, these mind controlling fools, they left us, our libraries, bookstores and the Internet,

Stranger then, fiction,                                                                                                                                      Dr. Jesse P. Turner
Uniting to Save Our Schools
Proud Badass Teacher

PS: 1984 is the most banned book of all time in the USA and always in top list in Russia.

It you like to listen to the tune from my morning walk today its  Propellerheads feat: Miss Shirley Bassey - History Repeating 

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Teaching Has Become My Bridge Over Troubled Water


Songs speak to me. Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge over Trouble Water is always on my playlist these days, <

Lately, I have found my teaching is more about helping our elder teachers to hold on, 
Helping our younger ones to know there is a better day coming,
I still teach the clinical skills needed for Literacy Specialists and future teachers,
I am a more the kind elder, 
More understanding, 
More compassionate, 
More human.

A teaching reminder,
that joy matters more than the numbers,
That we are the hope in the wilderness.

It is a burden too heavy,
But it is my burden of love.

Each night, I close my our Literacy Center door,
I walk slower these days,
More tired, 
I pray Lord lift these teachers up,
Give them hope,
Show them love.
It is a short stroll to the parking lot.

The burden gets lighter,  
As, I pick from my teaching heroes,
Selecting from these precious memories of those teachers,
Who lifted me,
In times of darkness,
Those names are my bridges over trouble waters.

Let me say, 
Their names?

Mr. Bass, 
Who fed me stories,
Who gave me the coat, hat, gloves in that coldest winter,
Who called my sister Jessica,
Jessica, your mother can’t do it,
Your brother can’t sleep in the train station, and succeed in school,
You need to help them both,
Talk to your husband,
Don’t ask him, 
Tell him, you will take him in. 

Mrs. Stanfield,
Said Young Man, you will not hand me in first drafts as your only drafts,
This is Honors English.
I don’t take one shot essays. 
She lit the fire,
She gave us,
Left us Macaulay “'Then out spoke brave Horatius”, The Captain of the Gate.

Dr. Jerry Weiss,
Who said, you are an urban educator,
Understand this comes with an extra responsibility, 
Young Mr. Turner, you can not only teach the skills,
You must learn to light the fire.

Dr. Dorothy Menosky,
Ask your wife to invite me down to lunch on Saturday,
Explain I have something to ask of her, young Erin, and you,
That lunch became, 
I am asking your family to go on a quest to become a teacher of teachers,
It might be the hardest thing you have ever attempted,
I would not ask it of you without Carolyn and Erin’s full support.
That lunch set in motion my quest to become Doctor Turner,
The teachers of teachers.

Dr. Yetta Goodman, 
She gave me a greater purpose,
Put me on a mission of change,
Called me her Ghetto Doc,
Help me see the bigger picture,
She led by example,
Her teaching like a cool stream on a hot day,
Her voice was my prophet in the desert,
She require teachers know the research from everywhere,
The research you agreed and disagreed with,
You must understand it all informs your thinking Jesse.
I want you to lead with,
Research, and 
Double up on that hope.

There are others,
My list is long.
Teachers are my heroes,
My hero Teachers lighten my burden,
And, I leave the parking lot understanding,
Like my hero teachers,
I am a bridge over troubled waters,
I sleep well, 
My burden less heavy, 
And I am ready for whatever may come. 

I am a bridge over troubled waters,
Dr. Jesse P. Turner 
CCSU Literacy Center Director

If you want to listen to the tune that inspired my morning walk to day its Labi Siffre's Something Inside So Strong > <