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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Walking to DC March 28, 2010

My hero and dearest Friend Dr. George Gentile United States Marine and Iowa Jima survivor.

My friend Dr. George Gentile a Iowa Jima marine who past away a few years ago loved coming to Pulaski Middle School in New Britain to talk to students about his experiences, and they adored Dr. Gentile.
They made him feel like a rock star once by asking him for his autograph after a talk he gave at Pulaski Middle School. That is George up there signing his autograph. He had a line of students asking for his autograph that day.
One group of students loved Dr. Gentile so much they came out to clean the New Britain Iowa Jima Memorial for him.
This was before NCLB. Even back then the Connecticut newspapers loved to print negative stories about children and their low-test scores. I remember one day George calls me up at CCSU, and starts telling me:
“Jesse you tell those kids they are all right in my book.”
“I can’t believe the Hartford Currant could print that these kids are failures.”
 "Where was the newspaper the day those kids cleaned our Memorial?”
You see Dr. Gentile understood that our children are more than test scores. This morning I visited the Iowa Jima Memorial, and said a few prayers for George, my uncles, and the boys that gave their all to this nation. Something tells me Dr. Gentile would say walk Jesse walk, and walk with your head up high. 

My Whispered Prayers on this 2010 Palm Sunday were thank you(s) for Jan Resseger, Minister for Public Education and Witness of United Christ whose written testimony submitted to the reauthorization NCLB provided the committee with a moral rejection of NCLB’s “Blueprint for reform.” Here are Minister Resseger 6 priorities for reauthorization of NCLB:

1.    Recognize that it is unfair and immoral to demand equal outcomes while remaining silent about equalizing the resources at the federal and state levels that create the opportunity for children to learn: address with resources the generational educational debt of poverty and segregation:
2.    Address economic and social issues outside the school day that impair learning;
3.    Improve the most vulnerable public schools turn away from blaming teachers and punishing the schools that serve the poor;
4.    Test children only in ways that improve instruction, measure real performance, and encourage exploration, imagination, and critical thinking;
5.    Set a visionary and at the same time workable school improvement time line to replace the utopian 2014 deadline; and
6.    Develop the unique gifts of each child, created in the image of god, rather than worshiping data and standardization.

Today my music was spiritual. While walking I kept thinking about how strange this concept of measuring the achievement of our children through test scores really is. On this 2010 Palm Sunday I imagined what would Abraham, Mosses, David, and Jesus think about viewing children as data?  What would they think about political leaders and policy makers spending one trillion dollars on bubble sheet tests, standards, assessment tracking systems, and public school reforms based on business models?

Somehow I find myself thinking they would say walk on Jesse, Walk on, and bring your message that children are more than test scores to DC.

Today my music was all-spiritual. My mother loved listening to Merle Haggard’s version of  “He walks with me”. Momma love her gospel music, and she left us with that love. Today I walked my 6 miles with my mother God rest her dear soul walking right by my side.  So I cried as I walked my 6 miles this 2010 Palm Sunday singing “ He walks with me, He talks with me, He tells me I am his own”.  My mother would approve of my walk to DC. She would cheer me on, she would say go tell it on a mountain Jesse, go tell them Children are more than test scores.
I am walking to DC,


  1. Jesse, this moved me so much. Reminds me of the poetry you used to write under the stars. It is wonderful hearing that voice again.

  2. Jesse this is a wonderful blog and a wonderful post. I wish I was up to responding as wonderfully. I'll work on a blog though. I love this line the best, "“Jesse you tell those kids they are all right in my book.”" He was right.

    Once I posted something on my blog, it went viral as they say and many used it...but many supported it. It's had a ton of hits. It was written so long before I thought of "the form" but I'll share it because I resented hearing what we did wrong, my classrooms then were excellent. I resent lowering it to this....
    don't know how to make a live link!

    Oh, good writing, good walking. I'm 1000% impressed.