This blog welcomes readers who believe that No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top, and Every Student Succeeds Act are misguided educational reform policies that rely too heavily on standardized test scores that are too focused on punitive measures against local schools. This is also the diary of Jesse Turner's 2010/15 walks to Washington DC from Connecticut, and his occupation of the DOE in DC with United Opt Out, and his opposition to public school choice policies without equity.
Monday, March 15, 2010
March 15, 2010 Walking to DC
Well today meditations began as always with prayers. I believe in the power of prayer. My prayers were beautiful silent whispers and hopes that our leaders, policy makers, and politicians would start to view our children as gifts, as magic, as so much more than test scores.
I read another chapter in Diane Ravitch’s book, and came to understand the hope of A Nation At Risk report. Even though I have quoted it in my own dissertation I had forgotten how much possibility it offered us. She clearly pointed out the damage being done by NCLB. While she punches away every chance she gets at NCLB. I am coming to like this tireless puncher of truth.
What really inspire me today though was thinking about my dear old friend Danny Lopez, a Tohono O’odham Elder. Back in 1993 I went to the University of Arizona to begin study for my PhD, and found a little job teaching Tohono O’odham students from the O’odham nation in Cells Arizona. It was the most amazing learning and teaching journey ever. Moving to Arizona meant my wife, my daughter, and I would be as poor as church mice for six years, but become amazingly rich in spirit.
The first time I met Danny Lopez he was standing outside my classroom door. He looked like he was cleaning the doorframe. I look over, and said good morning. He looks back, said thank you, and walked away. I assume he was the custodian, and move on. A few weeks later at a Tribal government meeting there he was leading the crowd in a special blessing.
Danny was a highly respected tribal leader. Toward the end of the night I went over to him, and said hello. He smiled this most beautiful smile, and said "welcome Jesse Turner teacher from the east". I got the courage to ask Danny what was he doing to the door on that day. Even today nearly 17 years later I can’t hold back my tears thinking of his response. I can’t help crying as I write thinking about Danny’s words. Here is what Danny Lopez my friend that great Tohono O’odham elder said that day:
“ I was blessing the doorway to learning. I was honoring all those that pass through that door, and you our new teacher. Those who come to teach our children humble me. I wanted to give you a great blessing and welcome you to the Tohono O’odham Nation. Then he said: “ Native peoples view education as a sacred trust, and we honor all teachers.”
That day I was Danny’s student for the lesson of a lifetime. Teaching is a sacred trust, and now you know why I begin all my teaching days with whispered prayers for our students, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, policy makers, and politicians. I pray our nation comes to understand that part of our sacred trust is learning that our children are more than test scores. Today another 5.5 miles on the treadmill and another 757 calories down .
I am walking to DC,
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Have you given thought to collecting walking companions along the way? A lot of people are fed up (me and many more!), and teachers might be available in the summertime.
Sharon in Oakland
Public school parent and blogger (The Perimeter Primate -- find me there)