Search This Blog

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

500 miles to DC

Salutations Readers, last year I walked alone, and this year I am on the organizing committee for the Save Our Schools March and Week of Action, (

Dr. Martin Luther King said: "The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals."
In 2011 we find ourselves faced with an educational reform policy NCLB/RTTT deeply rooted in efficiency... this is a policy that reduces our children, their schools and teachers to test scores.  I guess we could throw our hands up in the air, complain privately, and watch as another generation of children are lost.  Or better yet, we know silence and apathy are not acceptable when it comes to children - now is the time for action, on my part, your part, our part!

Readers, like the old Gospel song “People get ready, there’s a train a coming”,( this SOS train is moving beyond endorsements, moving beyond supporters, moving beyond contributions, it is a call to action. We are 53 days from the Save Our Schools March and Week of Action in DC
Last year I walked 400 miles in 40 days to reach Washington DC to protest No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top policies.    On that walk I met with parents, teachers, reading specialists, special education teachers, and concerned citizens who told me that the educational policies of Secretary Arne Duncan  are killing the motivation to learn in their schools. The people I met shared their stories about schools where children are being tested or practicing for being tested for 8 to 12 weeks of every school year.   
Sadly some children are spending 60 days of an entire school year either taking, or preparing for the taking of standardized tests.  This translates to one of every three school days being spent on testing, or testing preparation.  Let's make one thing perfectly clear from the start testing is not teaching.
This policy is a moral outrage in my professional opinion.    Perhaps in the minds of  those in Washington DC, testing is what motivates students to learn.   Their legislative policies since 2001 are about sorting, weighing, measuring, and isolating our children, teachers, and schools. A policy rooted in separating the strong from the weak, and punishing the weak while rewarding the strong. In reality this is the most Un-Christian and Un-American educational policy ever devised, and it is an affront to the past 100 years of legal struggle for equality in our public schools.   

“No Child Left Behind” policy amounts to the largest disconnection in living memory between our nation’s leaders and our nation’s parents, children and their teachers.  Our leaders want to determine whether or not our children  are ready to compete in the world market. Children, parents and their teachers need learning to be meaningful.  Policymakers and politicians expect education to be efficient, and to them efficiency means testing. For parents and teachers meaningful means being prepared for life. Thus far, neither McGraw Hill, or Educational Testing Service have a test that measures a meaningful life. 
Fair Test,  ( in 2001, summed up NCLB as "let children eat tests". Just as the French rejected a queen whose answer to starvation was "Let them eat cake" I propose that we reject this "let them eat test policy"
The most tragic point however, about Race To The Top policy is, having spent close to one trillion dollars, ($1,000,000,000,000) there is little or no data to support these policies as having met with success. If Washington's education reform policy were sold as a medicine these reformers would be under arrest for faulty research, for harming children, parents, teachers, and local schools. Instead of having a discussion of this policy, we should be requesting an investigation of serous crimes against our public schools.

Just like that old  gospel song tells us “People get ready ~ you don’t need no ticket to get on board this train…all you need do is get on board.”

As for getting on board, my plans this year are to walk 500 miles in 50 days, but unlike last August when I actually walked to DC, this July I am working and instead will walk 500 miles close to home.  So my blogs this year will be coming to you from the CCSU Literacy Center, where I will do some of my walking on a treadmill parked outside the center. John Foshay and his students will be my June coaches. John recorded most of my walk last year. However my July coaches will be the children in our summer reading program. So expect a few new younger  faces  to be popping up from time to time in this year's Walking to DC blog.
I hope to post pictures, updates, and share letters of support written by the children to the Freedom Riders who are also coming to the Save Our Schools March and Week of Action from New Orleans. Guess you know this will be the summer of reading all about the Freedom Riders at the CCSU Literacy Center.

Lao Tzu the father of Taoism said:"The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step."

Today was my first of 20,000 steps, (10 miles), and the tune that moved me over the 2000 steps today was Joan Baez version of “If you missed the train I’m on”.
Sing the first two verses with me: 
“If you miss the train I'm on, you will know that I am gone
You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles,
A hundred miles, a hundred miles, a hundred miles, a hundred miles,
You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles.

Lord I'm one, Lord I'm two, Lord I'm three, Lord I'm four,
Lord I'm 500 miles from my home.
500 miles, 500 miles, 500 miles, 500 miles
Lord I'm five hundred miles from my home. “

 Walkers you know….”If you miss the train I'm on you will know that I am gone..You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles.”
Lord, I am 500 miles from change,


No comments:

Post a Comment