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Thursday, January 26, 2012

The DOE's organ grinder and school reformer dancing monkeys

Richard Rothstein research associate of the Economic Policy Institute expresses his concerns about NCLB stating:
 “Assuming systemic failure to justify a frenzy of ill-considered reforms, we've spent almost no time investigating what caused these trends. We can only speculate. Rather than spending such energy imagining how schools have failed, so we can fix them, we might devote attention to investigating what schools have done well, so we can do more of it. Rothstein is not generalizing he is using decades of NEAP data to share that the achievement gap was closing faster pre-NCLB than post. Check it out for yourself:
One wonders when the DOE in DC might begin to look at the data as well rather than repeating the unproven mantras of the so-call school choice movement. Isn’t it time we grade the DOE in Washington? Three Secretaries of Education, a decade of failure, and nearly a trillion dollars spent for closing a achievement gap that was closing faster before they arrived.
Let me start with L for lies, P Ponzi schemes, and F for failure.
What is your grade for the DOE?   

Wondering what the Walkingman was listening today on his walk:

"When I was a young man  Just gotten out  I didn't know  What this world was all about  I was lied to, I was cheated  I played all kinds of fools  It didn't take me long  To learn the rules"  
Fool me once, shame on you  Fool me twice, shame on me"
New verse people
Fool us once Pageshame on youFool us twice SpellingShame on usFool us three times Duncan
    Get ready for a fight

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ain't nobody gonna turn me around

The more things change, the more they remain the same.   In Raleigh, NC,  this week  a coalition of ministers and community leaders asked the Wake County School Board and the District Attorney's Office to seek mediation instead of trials for 30 protesters arrested at school board meetings in 2010. 

before you read the rest of my blog please read more here:‎

I salute my brothers and sisters in Raleigh who understand the value of Civil Disobedience. 

"Ain't nobody gonna turn me around" My Mom taught me about Civil Disobedience when I was 8 years old. Her lesson began on Good Friday, April 12, 1963, as we sat and watched TV and saw that Dr. King had being arrested with Ralph Abernathy by Police Commissioner Bull Connor for demonstrating without a permit, I could see how genuinely upset my Mom was.  I asked her "Why did they keep arresting him?"

and I remember her reply "Little Jess, the way I see it,  Dr. King's arrest is like that bible story when King Darius decreed that no one could pray to any God for thirty days.  But the good Daniel continued to pray to our Lord in defiance.  The king then cast Daniel into the lion's den.  Everyone thought Daniel would be killed, but they did not know God was on Daniel's side.  That big old lion just walked over to Daniel and sat down beside him, letting everyone know that Daniel and those like Daniel are safe."

She told me how Dr. King was probably reading that very bible passage in jail right now, as he sat in his jail cell.   "Come on" she said to me, "Let's be like Dr. King and read that passage,  we need to pray to the Lord to deliver Dr. King from the lion's den."  My Mom, way back then, recognized Civil Disobedience, and made darn sure her son understood it too! 

Bravo to those brave ministers, hats off to those community leaders who like Daniel continue to step into the lion's den in Raleigh and everywhere else around our country. 

My very favorite Teacher "Dorothy Menosky" always  loves to say "Not everything that is taught is learned, and not everything that is learned is taught."  There are many resistance lessons all around us in this struggle to tell our leaders that America's Children are More Than Test Scores. Don't believe the hype ~ learn the lessons.
Ready to occupy the DOE,

If you want to know what I was listening to on my walk today: 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My feet is my only carriage

In our world of world of top down NCLB/RTTT education reform we find children, parents, teachers, community activists, and educators silenced, marginalized, and locked out of any meaningful discussion on education policy.  In a world gone mad I walk for change, I write for change, I will occupy for change this spring. Silence and apathy are not acceptable when it comes to our children. 
While walking in Ireland and visiting Occupy in Dublin I found myself singing Bob Marley's "Woman No Cry"...the line I keep hearing is "My feet is my only carriage... So I've got to push on through". 
When you are silenced, when you are locked out of the debate you learn to become a torn in the lion's foot. You become a constant reminder that all is not what it seems to these Top Down Reformers. If you read my blog, follow "Children Are More Than Test Scores" on Facebook, and know my work with Save Our Schools then you know my thorn story. Like Bob Marley I understand my feet is my only carriage, and like Marley I keep hearing those redemption songs. They remind me I am not alone. 
On my walks I break the silence placed upon me with song, scripture, and by reading the stories of the oppressed.  The lord said to Joshua " Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, niether thou dismayed; for the Lord thy God is with thee wither soever thou goest." 
Today I want to share two other thorns in the feet of our education Policy makers in DC with my readers. The first is the untold story of school reform in New Orleans where parents and the Southern Poverty Law Center are moving forward with their law suit against the Louisiana State Board of Education seeking access to equal education for the special needs children of New Orleans.   

Parents will not be silence. Look out parents in Florida New Orleans is the model Florida legislators have in mind with their so called "parent trigger law". I salute the SPLC and the parents of Special Needs Children in the city of New Orleans for their courage to fight back. They are not alone. 

The second Thorn story is a mother blogger who has kept on fighting against a Charter School no one really seems to want in her community except for a millionaire real estate magnet. She has fought tirelessly to expose lie after lie told on the application for a new charter repeatedly denied by the state of New Jersey, but who somehow managed to get 600,000 dollars from The United States Department of Education. "Mother Crusader" writes: 
" I Never intended to become a parent advocate until I watched the great schools in my little town come under attack. The more I learned about what was happening the more I read. The more I read the more I saw how what is happening here is tied to towns across not only New Jersey, but the country. And now I'm in the thick of it, and I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing." Read about this her thorn story. 

This is not about Charter Vs regular public schools this is about silencing children, parents, and teachers. Not all charters are bad, and not all public schools are good. The question for me is when will our policy makers start helping to improve all our schools by supporting them. This might be the last struggle to keep the public in our public schools. 
Silence and apathy are not acceptable when it comes to our children.
 Today on my walk I listen to bob Marley's No Woman No Cry... and just in case you want to see Bob sing it:

I sing no woman no cry...My feet are my only I got to push on...and the Walking Man says to his brothers and sisters we are not alone. We are the thorns that stop those mighty lions in their tracks. We are the truth, and we are still marching,

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Salutations to occupiers everywhere

Salutations and Happy New Year to all you beautiful Occupiers everywhere.

A teacher named Ruby from Indiana asked people on a listserve "if libraries in their areas charged fees"?  Her library charged fees, and required three year renewals.  Libraries here in Connecticut do not charge fees, and update old cards without any real hassle.  What does all this really mean? For me it demonstrates a growing meanness that is destroying everything public, an attack on the general good, an affront to our humanity as a people. 
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in the Great Gatsby... "Here was a new generation, shouting the old cries, learning the old creeds, through a revelry of long days and nights; destined finally to go out into that dirty gray turmoil to follow love and pride; a new generation dedicated more than the last to the fear of poverty and the worship of success; grown up to find all gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man shaken..."
There is no question in my mind "Occupy" has become a new emerging narrative, one that questions the worship of success being defined as money and power. My thinking is,  America is always at a cross road between meanness and kindness.  "Occupy" is an emerging narrative at that cross road that those in power feel the need to mock, because "Occupy" makes it hard for them to look at themselves in the mirror. Occupiers revealed the ugliness of the gluttony of the powerful and wealthy, and it also reveals some of our own shame. 
If Fitzgerald were writing "The Great Gatsby" today, the word occupy might very well be the only word under those eyes of the divine on that billboard outside George Wilson's home. 
I agree with Gandhi when he said: "Poverty is the worst form of violence." I see this attack on all things public as a violent attack on the poor. Things like fees and renewals serve only to discourage the poor from entering our libraries. 
I remember one freezing winter, a long time ago,  when my family had no heat in our little apartment.  It was the library that kept my sisters and I warm after school while my mother was at work. If my Mom had to pay a fee at the library she would not have been able to pay it. Instead my sisters and I would have sat in a freezing apartment surrounded by cold walls devoid of any books. Public spaces such as libraries,  do so much  more than keep its patrons warm; they help to make us who we are. 
The ladies at our library knew that we were there for much more than just books... These librarians made extra sure my sisters and I were welcomed every day. "Salutations- to the Turner family are you coming to discover your next great adventure? We have your usual table by the window reserved just for you" they would say to us each and every day.  One day I asked her “Mrs. Johnson what does Salutations mean?” ….”Well my little man let me introduce you to "Charlotte" your next great adventure.”…  Those wonderful librarians made sure a little boy who was without a hat or gloves in the midst of a cold winter was given a brand new pair of gloves.  Gloves that just happened to be his size... and had somehow mysteriously showed up in the lost and found... The faith of those librarians was never shaken, and those gloves made sure my faith in humanity remains unshaken today. 
We too can make a difference, by living unshaken lives. By teaching, by sharing, by questioning, and the random acts of kindness we do every single day. My heroes have always been those acts of kindness known as teachers and librarians. Today I am adding those brave occupiers of public spaces everywhere to my hero list. 
Still marching, still walking, and soon to be occupier at the DOE this spring with Opt Out,
The above photo (somewhat blurred) is of me, saluting an occupier from Occupy Dame Street, in Dublin, Ireland, on 12/30/11. 
Walking song of the day "I hear them all by the Crow Medicine Show 
For those wishing to join us for Occupy The DOE in DC this March 30, 31, and April 1 & 2: