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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Dear President Biden, please not go down that same old testing equals progress lie

 Dear President Biden, about this rush to make our students take standardized assessments in the middle of a pandemic. 

I imagined leadership in the White House, that listened to teachers, parents, and children; rather than policymakers, CEOs, and leaders who spend their days far from our nation's classrooms. 

I wonder when this high-stakes annual 2 Billion testing madness is going to end. Can't think of any teachers waiting by their phone for any timely diagnostic data for refining their instruction coming some 6 months later. Sort of like your doctor giving you an EKG, and saying I am not going to look at these results until months from now.  It is madness to force teachers and children to sit through standardized assessments whose results won't be in until 6 months from now. 

Mr. President, please don't take us back down that Arne Duncan road of high-stakes testing failing policies? Perhaps the new Secretary of Education Dr. Cardona might enlighten you on the history of Title 1 funding promise? Our National Legislative promise broken every year since 1965. 56 years and counting! 

Surely someone in Washington DC, remembers the piece of Title 1 history and the war on poverty no one wants to remember. Dr. Cardona might point you to The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS), 2018 report on Education Debt to Black, Brown, and Poor Communities. 

Just a few lines from the 2021 Rethinking Schools: Teacher Unions And Social Justice book on that AROS report for your consideration. 

"President Lyndon B. Johnson, in launching his War on Poverty, recognized that a key front in the battle against poverty was the nation's public schools. With the passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the federal government acknowledged that public schools in low-income communities need additional education resources. Title, I of ESEA directs federal dollars to schools with high concentrations of students living in poverty... Not only did lawmakers recognize the need for additional resources-they attempted to quantify it. Embedded in the law is the authorization-established by Congress-to provide school districts 40 percent for each title 1-eligible child so that their schools could offer supplemental supports as reading-specialist and smaller class sizes" Teacher union and Social justice (2021) p. 308." 

Considering your commitment to take on Systemic Racism during your presidency, surely you understand that standardized testing has never brought equity or justice to one single Black or Brown child in America. 

Much like ‘Reconstruction’s 40 Acres and A Mule promise to former slaves, this promise was also never ever delivered. The time has come, not for more testing, but to fulfill America’s title 1 promise.

Respectfully                                                                                                                     Dr. Jesse P. Turner  Uniting to Save Our Schools National Committee

56 years of broken American Promises to Black & Brown children 

If you want to hear the tune that inspired my walk in the snow today it is Jeremy Dudley's "Stop The Madness"

Thursday, February 18, 2021

The Science of Reading, Same Old One Size Fits All Song


The titans of industry are making the rounds again, giving out campaign contributions and selling the same old "one size fits all" notions to schools, teachers, and parents. Armed with test score data, and selling the sky is falling. Smaller class sizes, no no, more Literacy specialists, no no, more Special education teachers, no no, maybe more tutors, no no, everything you need comes in a box with a special price just for your school. “See the world through the eyes of your inner child. The eyes that sparkle in awe and amazement as they see love, magic, and mystery in the most ordinary things.” -Henna Sohail

If you find yourself believing the hype of these Ed Reformers and policymakers selling high-stakes testing, saying the test is the curriculum, claiming their data reveals all? If they start talking about "The Science of Reading," know this, they have no magic; they can and will bore children. Leave our teachers wondering why their science assembly line keeps breaking down. They have been doing it for decades. WALK AWAY!

They are clueless data junkies, chasing all the wrong numbers, and they are the ones far from our classrooms.
See every lesson through the eyes of children,
Dr. Jesse P. Turner
CCSU Literacy Center Director If you like to listen to the song that inspired my walk in the snow today? It is Natalie Merchant's Wonder > <
"People see me I'm a challenge to your balance,
I'm over your heads, how I confound you,
And astound you,
To know, I must be one of the seven wonders,
God's own creation,
And as far as they see,
They can offer
Me no explanation,
Ooo, I believe, fate smiled"

Finding the magic means finding the right books. 

Saturday, January 23, 2021

There ain't no high-stakes test gonna keep me in my grave


What my Hero Teachers in my life taught the teacher in me?
There was no:
Standards, or
Standardized test,
That could prevent them,
From teaching us what really mattered to us.
My Hero Teachers came in all colors, all faiths, some American born, and some came from afar,
They were, Culturally Relevant,
Before it, became the professional thing to do.
Yes, I know what is in the:
Standards, and
On those high-stakes tests,
But, more importantly,
I know that no power on earth,
Can keep me, or those I teach out.
My Hero Teachers were bigger than data walls,
My Hero Teachers were bigger than any standards,
My Hero Teachers were bigger than any approved curriculum,
My Hero Teachers were bigger than the test scores.
My Hero Teacher fortified me with a legacy of:
Dignity, and
Hope, and
They were beautiful, opinionated, and powerful. But, she was the fire burning, Here is to our fire burning, Mrs. Stanfield. We sat at lunch, talking Baldwin, Gather on the practice field hearing Garvey, Hanging on the corner, critically discussing Beawolf, In the park, we wanna be gang bangers, citing Sheamus Heaney, At 5:00 in the afternoon when Ignacio Sanchez Mejias fell in the bull ring, We lamented with Federico Lorca Garcia Diablo Poetics,
We walked with Maya's I know why the caged bird sings. We owe it all to her, Mrs. Stanfield knew there were bigger lessons that her girls and boys needed learning, Hail to every hero teacher, who saw us, not some distance curriculum.
I walk in the footsteps of Hero Teachers bigger than me,
Dr. Jesse P. Turner
CCSU Literacy Center Director
If you like to listen to the song that inspired my walk this morning, its Jamie Wilson's cover of "Ain't No Graver"
Need some fire? Places to go, and people to hear, and lessons to learn, tomorrow it's all Radical Love in the time of pandemic: Imagination and hope in Public Education. Come learn with us > <