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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Race To The Top the new religion of fear, punishment, and false hope.

Albert Einstein said: “A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.”
Reflecting on an article by Gary Scharrer in on the Education Accountability Project’s critical report on public education’s financial accountability
He writes, “Mark Hurley the person who organized the project states, “that minimally, school district financial reports should show:
  • What people are paid to do
  • What classes are being taught by grade and how many students are completing them
  • What contractors are providing what services and whether they are bid competitively
  • What districts are spending on non teaching activities

He goes on to say: Texas courts have spent the better part of 30 years refereeing school funding squabbles. Another lawsuit will be tried later this year. Richard Gray III is a lawyer representing 407 Texas public school districts in one of four lawsuits against the state. The education community believes "the system is woefully underfunded, Gray said. "We're back to a situation that's as bad as it's ever been, if not worse," he said. The poorest 15 percent of school districts now get at least $2,000 less per student than the wealthiest 15 percent  - despite lower tax rates in those property-rich districts.”
Readers ~ Texas does not stand alone in this lack of financial accountability. There are 49 other clueless states! No one in any State DOE, or in the U. S. Department of Education wants to tackle the issue of inequity in our schools. Certainly not a U.S. Department of Education that promises equity in the form of lotteries and schools competing against each other. Their solution instead is to immerse our children in a Darwinian Survival of the Fittest.
They've never provided the figures on how much is actually spent in classrooms - next to children.
And yet the biggest oversight on the part of the DOE by far, is how they continue to accept spending less money on children of color, and the poor.
The mantras that we continue to hear from the Reformer's are:
Poverty does not matter

Race does not matter.
Special needs do not matter.
Their mantra could instead be "we refuse to do the right thing for children of color, the poor, and children with special needs"

Keep your eye on the prize America.
Jonathan Kozol's Savage Inequalities still rules the land.
"No Child Left Behind" and “Race To The Top” have  done nothing to change things for children of color, or the poor.
The NAACP has since 1909 reminded America of its failure to bring equity to our schools.
Let’s call it what it really is.
America’s moral sin is our refusal to do the right thing for all children.
Every single court in America has been skirting around this issue since Brown v. Board of Education (1954)
58 years of skirting around our nation's moral responsibility...
58 years of pretending...
58 years of inequity in our schools...
58 years of waiting on something better for our children than a race to nowhere...
Silence and apathy are not acceptable!

This is why  I called No Child Left Behind "a scam" ~ from day one.
This is why I have held town hall meetings calling for a balanced assessment framework since 2003,
This is why I held a Children Are More Than Test Scores conference in 2004,
This is why I created Children Are More Than Test Scores, and
Why I started blogging in 2009,
This is why I walked 400 miles to DC in 40 days in 2010,
This is why I marched with Save Our Schools in 2011,
This is why I ran for the Save Our Schools March, and Call to Action Steering Committee in 2011,
This is why I collaborate with others to pass resolutions against high stakes testing in my professional organizations over the years.
This is why I cannot stop speaking up, 
This is why I went to the Selma Alabama Jubilee Education Summit in 2012,
This is why I testified against NCLB waivers in March 2012,
This is why I will occupy the U.S. Department of Education on March 30, 31, April 1 & 2,
This is why I am going with SOS to Washington DC for the People's Education Convention in August,
Silence and apathy are not acceptable.
My feet are tired, my voice is hoarse, but the spirit is ready and able to follow this quest for justice, this quest for equity, and this is my climb to Martin’s Dream.
Ready to occupy,
If you want to know what the Walking Man was listening to on my walk on this cold spring day it's Patty Griffin’s Up The Mountain (MLK Tribute Song).

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Race To The Top is another name for "Pink Slime" brain food given to America's children

News of the ammonia-treated additive, formally called lean finely textured beef, set off a reaction by schools and an announcement by the Agriculture Department.

NCLB/RTTT's high stakes testing is Pink Slime being fed to the minds of our children.

People can change things. On March 9th I blogged "Can we trust a U.S. DOE that approves of feeding our children Pink Slime?” all over the country others blogged, talked and complained that the United States Department of Agriculture purchased 7 tons of this "Pink Slime" to use for school lunches. The Pink Slime was soon removed from major supermarket chains, simply because shoppers/consumers and bloggers began to question "I wonder does my supermarket sell this Pink Slime?"  When an informed public speaks up and questions leadership decisions ~ wheels start turning, and pink slime disappears from supermarket shelves!  
We are about to turn the corner on NCLB/RTTT reforms. The tide is shifting. I am joining parents, teachers, educators, and students in DC next Saturday.  We will "Occupy" the United States Department of Education. 
No matter where you are next week-end, talk about us Occupiers. Blog about us; write letters to news editors; and talk us up on the social media networks. In DC I'll be conducting my teach-ins, protesting, singing, and occupying the U.S. DOE.  Oh yea, we will also be asking Secretary Arne Duncan to resign! 
Their NCLB/RTTT house of cards is about to fall. 
America's children are more than test scores Secretary Duncan ~ see you in DC.
Calling all concerned souls in the DC area next week to stand tall with us against the Pink Slime Testing Reforms of NCLB/RTTT.
Details for the week-end in DC can be found:
Join the Revolution, check out our new Save Our Schools website:

Ready to occupy
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Reading between the lines of education reform

Having read Valerie Strauss's blog about Donna McKenna the ESL teacher who dared the DOE to measure her value, 
I began to read between the lines of Race To The Top Reformers. You'll find NCLB/RTTT reformers love to pit parents against teachers, and teachers against parents. They love using the words "accountability for children", "parents, teachers, and schools", but yet they never hold themselves accountable.
In 2001 we passed NCLB and we allocated $1.2 trillion federal dollars to fund this educational reform.   
$1.2 trillion only accounts for about 10% of what we actually are spending, since local and state funding picks up the difference (an additional $9 trilion)
.  These reformers have had their way for more than ten years.
 They have spent most of that money. All this money with little to show for their reforms.  
They will point their finger in blame at others; never at themselves. 

But, last time I checked they were the ones in charge.
They claimed that their new testing and standards would save our children in 2002. 
They got their new standards.
They allocated where the money went.
They claimed in '02 that Reading First Schools would make every child a reader by grade 3. 
They picked the scientifically based reading curriculums and assessments. 
They supported those schools with extra resources, extra money, extra professional development,.
 They celebrated Reading First Schools everywhere in the media. They held these schools up a model for the teaching of reading. 
But then after 6 years, independent research indicated that the 3rd grade students in Reading First Schools comprehended even less than the control group in the non-Reading First Schools, (2008/9 U.S. First Grade Impact Studies).

In 2004 the U.S. DOE's Golden Child of NCLB/RTTT Reform, New York City's very own Commissioner of Education Mr. Joe Klein said "Children have to be held accountable".  He ended social promotion for third graders. Mayor Bloomberg has since extended this to fourth and fifth graders. To this day researchers advise against what New York is doing.  New York City children and parents are still being left behind. 
In 2008 reformers promised that Race To The Top would have schools compete against each other, and this competition would save our schools. In Summer 2011 Arnie Duncan made a statement that claimed "without NCLB waivers 85% of our public schools will not make Adequate Yearly Progress, (AYP)."
Again, who is still in charge?
   The reformers now find themselves banging their accountability drum for "Teachers all over our nation", and once again the U.S. DOE is promising that new assessments and new standards will save our schools.
While they cannot measure one ESL teacher named Donna McKenna;  we certainly can measure their failure at education reform. 
It's worth reading Valerie Strauss's blog about Donna:
Teacher: I dare you to measure my ‘value’
An ESL teacher tells about the reality of her classroom and issues a dare to school officials who insist on evaluating teachers by value-added methods that rely on standardized test scores.
If you are wondering what the walking man is listening to after his walk it's Peter, Paul and Mary's singing If I had a hammer:

There are more important lessons than test prepping our children

There are lessons to be learned every day in our schools; lessons that never  appear on the mandated test our leaders use to measure academic success.
I find this lesson begging to be taught, begging for meaning, begging for a place in our classrooms, and I found it in an article from the Hiffington post:

A Virginia high school English teacher is under investigation for allegedly asking the only black student in the class to read a poem in a "blacker" manner. Jordan Shumate, a ninth-grader at George C. Marshall High School in Falls Church, Va., says he was reading aloud Langston Hughes' "Ballad of the Landlord" when teacher Marilyn Bart interrupted him. "She told me, 'Blacker, Jordan -- c'mon, blacker. I thought you were black,'" Shumate told The Washington Post.

When the 14-year-old student declined to continue reading the poem, Bart read it herself to demonstrate what she meant. "She read the poem like a slave, basically," Shumate told the Post. When he asked whether she thought all black people speak that way, he was reportedly told to take his seat and reprimanded for speaking out of turn. The poem was written in 1940 about a black tenant thrown in jail for challenging a landlord."It's very, very unprofessional," Shumate told WJLA-TV. "It should not happen. She didn't do it to any other kids. Why did she have to do it to me?"

The student brought the issue to his mother's attention after the teacher reportedly singled him out again during a lesson about stereotypes. Shumate said Bart asked him to explain why blacks like grape soda and rap music. Shumate's mother, Nicole Page, told WAMU that she is "very sad" for her "child's loss of innocence" through the experience. The teacher had also previously asked the student to rap out a poem by black rapper and actor Tupac Shakur, Page said. "We're in 2012 with the first African American president," Page told WJLA-TV. "In this era how could such a statement be made, particularly by an English teacher?" Shumate's claims come after two shocking and racist YouTube videos surfaced in Florida last month that feature white teen girls making disparaging statements against black students. At least one of the incidents forced the video's creators to apologize and leave their Gainesville, Fla., high school. (story link
Young Jordan Shumate's Youtube video link will be part of my lesson this week. Want to see the face of a young Black America not seen on commercial television?  watch, listen and learn from Jordan Shumate what it feels like to be black in our schools: 
As Dr. Seuss said " The Places you will go:
" KID, YOU'LL MOVE MOUNTAINS..So be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray, or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
you're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So get on your way!"
My thinking is, there are so many things more important than test scores.
There are things we need to do in our schools.
Things that are more important than making children, teachers, and schools compete against each other.

There is meaningful work needed to be done that is not covered in the new Common Core State Standards.
Work not covered on any state mastery test.
Work on improving our teaching,
Work needed to be done that is more important-than test prepping students,
Work that values Langston's use of dialect in respectful ways,
We can do better,
Our students deserve better.
Jordan certainly deserves better,
And if we could see our children as gifts, not mere test scores, perhaps we might be able to start that work. 
We have teaching mountains waiting, and policy makers who cannot see beyond the numbers.
And most importantly, we have a whole generation that expects more from us than a Race To The Top.

One last lesson missed. This one is from Florida, I found it on a Facebook plea this morning to post a picture on people's walls.
Perhaps this is by far the most important lesson facing our schools, the lesson of a young Trayvon Martin whose only crime was his skin.
Where is the lesson of the February 26, 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in our schools?
Does his tragic death fit within Secretary Arne Duncan's new Common Core Standards? 
How many young African American males have to die, before we teach the lessons most needed in our schools?
May Trayvon Martin be carried in the arms of angels,
May our Lord comfort his family in this their hour of darkness.
May God forgive a nation for failing once again to teach the lessons most needed in our schools.
Silence and apathy are not acceptable,
If you are wondering what I'm listening to on my walk this morning it's Bob Dylan's How many miles can a man walk down

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

U.S. DOE smoke and mirror tricks, and teachers as scapegoats.

Readers in today's New York Times I found the following request from a respected colleague, and friend Joanne Yatvin. She suggests the following invitation to dialogue on teacher evaluation in the NY Times: Before I share my response to her invitation that I forwarded to the NY Times please read her respectful request:
Invitation to a Dialogue: Evaluating Teachers
Over the past year states have scrambled to rewrite their teacher evaluation procedures to satisfy federal demands. Because the main thrust of the new procedures is to remove ineffective teachers and, perhaps, reward superior ones, their key element is “value added” test scores — measuring how much students’ scores have improved.
To the Editor:
But they are also stuffed with multiple observations, often by different observers, long lists of criteria and lengthy written reviews. So freighted, they are not only unfair but also unworkable. There must be a better way.
What schools need are not only simpler and more flexible plans, but also evaluators with enough time and the expertise to do the job. At the elementary level, finding them should be relatively easy: appoint good principals and free them from bus duty and never-ending out-of-school meetings. In high schools, where principals have large numbers of teachers and numerous subject areas under their supervision, the evaluators should be department heads.
As for the evaluation process itself, it needs to be yearlong, with evaluators working alongside teachers and observing many different lessons. Thus, they will see what good teachers do: grading papers at lunchtime, coming in early to tutor a struggling student, staying late to meet with a worried parent, inspiring students to learn more than required.
Primarily, however, states would do well to abandon their obsession with student test scores. As many critics have observed, too many factors beyond a teacher’s control influence those numbers.
But an even bigger problem is teaching to the test. With so much weight given to the scores in new evaluations, only a few brave teachers will be able to resist concentrating on tests. As a result, real student learning will decline sharply, along with good teaching.
Portland, Ore., March 13, 2012
Joanne Yatvin is a retired teacher and elementary school principal and past president of the National Council of Teachers of English.
Editors’ Note: We invite readers to respond to this letter for our Sunday Dialogue. We plan to publish responses and Ms. Yatvin’s rejoinder in the Sunday Review. E-mail:

My response sent to the N.Y. Times was:
Rather than have a dialogue on teacher evaluation I rather have a dialogue on evaluating the United States Department of Education landmark "No Child Left Behind/Race To The Top" federal policy.
It appears to me that the U.S. Department of Education is playing Smoke and Mirrors, and is looking for a scapegoat to defer blame from their failed polices.   We should ask ourselves why is the U.S. DOE in a rush to include valued added assessments in the form of test scores? Lets have a quick NCLB review. NCLB promised that it could close the achievement gap by mandating new rigorous standards, and annual testing. A decade later perhaps it is time that we evaluate the United States Department of Education reform policy using those very same valued added assessments they are recommending be used for teachers? Well our NAEP scores for 2009 17-years olds have been relatively flat since 1971. Andrew J. Coulson, the director of the Cato Institute Center for Educational Freedom, reflecting on those flat scores states in his review:The latest NAEP results reveal a productivity collapse unparalleled in any other sector of the economy. At the end of high school, students perform no better today than they did nearly 40 years ago, and yet we spend more than twice as much per pupil in real, inflation-adjusted terms. I can’t think of any other service that has gotten worse during my lifetime.”

There is that well known biblical verse about those that "Live by the sword shall die by the sword" well when does the US DOE fall on it's own sword. After all after a decade of reform dominance clearly No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top/ are the status quo. Seriously what other education reform policy is completing with NCLB/RTTT? The U.S. DOE has led the show for over a decade, using 1.2 trillion dollars allocated under NCLB to dictate education reform at the state level. So states do what the U.S. DOE wants, or risk losing your federal funding. The Federal Government has cornered the market on education reform with punitive measures rooted in their high stakes test driven mandates under their promise that all children in grades 3 to 8 will be proficient at grade level in reading, writing, and math by the end of 2013.
NCLB allocated 1.2 trillion dollars for that purpose, and attached numerous strings to federal allocations through new state mandated standards and assessments requirements. We are less than two years away from that promise delivery date, and nearly a trillion dollars is spent on their promise. Shouldn’t someone be evaluating the promise of NCLB? NCLB allocations amounts to roughly about 10% of what we spend on our public schools. The other 90% comes from local and state funding. So roughly NCLB has spent nearly a trillion dollars thus far with the states adding nearly another 9 trillion. 
Rather than asking to discuss evaluating teachers we should be asking to evaluate NCLB’s promise? Just when do we ask what does the United State Department of Education have to show for their efforts?
Certainly no real improvement in 17-year olds NAEP scores, or SAT scores indicate this critical data point: reading scores in 1972 were 530, and today after a decade of NCLB reading scores are at 497. ( - cite_note-06Report-21)  
I guess it is too much to expect that the U.S. DOE in DC would be willing to fall on their own high stakes data sword. 
We also have the Reading First Schools failure. Secretary Rod Paige and Secretary Margaret Spelling advocated, and pushed Reading First Schools as the DOE's showcase models of reform. For the first six years of NCLB the U.S. DOE awarded over 6 billion dollars to public schools that adopted their recommended Gold Cadillac Scientifically Based Reading Programs and train all it's teachers to fully use these programs. Well after 6 years the U. S. 2008 Reading First Impact Study indicated that children in non Reading First Schools control groups had higher reading comprehension scores than Reading First School students. Certainly we should have started questioning federal leadership back then. They have a record of documented failure that should have been raising red flags long ago. 
The pathetic truth after spending nearly a trillion dollars, and mandating numerous fail attempts to close the achievement gap the U.S DOE is once again calling for new assessments and new standards. Someone tell Secretary of Education Arne Duncan "been there did that one Arne"?
Returning to my opening point about the U.S. DOE Smoke and Mirrors, and scapegoats we find United States Secretary Arne Duncan in need of a way to keep the public's eye off that DOE NCLB/RTTT massive failure to deliver on it's promise to close the achievement gap. Thus his new scapegoat becomes teacher evaluations and value added assessments that rely once again on high stakes testing.
Please people tell me you are not going to fall for Secretary of Education Duncan's Smoke and Mirror tricks? I do wonder if the buck ever stops at the top at the DOE in DC?
Jesse The Walking Man Turner
Children Are More Than Test Scores  
If you are wondering what the Walking man is listening today on his walk as he thinks about his coming trip to DC to join United Opt Out Occupy The DOE in DC it all Bruce Springsteen's "Rocky Ground" Man am I inspired:
In case you want to sing long with me:

Singing those Rocky Ground lyrics
(I'm a soldier!)
We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground

Rise up shepherd, rise up
Your flock has roamed far from the hills
The stars have faded, the sky is still
The angels are shouting "Glory Hallelujah"

We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground

Forty days and nights of rain have washed this land
Jesus said the money changers in this temple will not stand
Find your flock, get them to higher ground
Flood waters rising and we're Caanan bound

We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
(I'm a soldier!)

Tend to your flock or they will stray
We'll be called for our service come Judgment Day
Before we cross that river wide
Blood on our hands will come back on us twice

(I'm a soldier!)
Rise up shepherd, rise up
Your flock has roamed far from the hills
Stars have faded, the sky is still
Sun's in the heavens and a new day's rising

You use your muscle and your mind and you pray your best
That your best is good enough, the Lord will do the rest
You raise your children and you teach 'them to walk straight and sure
You pray that hard times, hard times, come no more
You try to sleep, you toss and turn, the bottom's dropping out
Where you once had faith now there's only doubt
You pray for guidance, only silence now meets your prayers
The morning breaks, you awake but no one's there

We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
There's a new day coming
We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
(I'm a soldier!)
We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
There's a new day coming
We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
(I'm a soldier!)
We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
There's a new day coming
We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
(I'm a soldier!)
We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
There's a new day coming
We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground

We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground
We've been traveling over rocky ground, rocky ground

Yeah I’m still walking, still marching, still talking, still blogging, and I’m coming Secretary of Education Status quo Arne Duncan.
I travel over rocky ground for over 10-years now,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

Friday, March 9, 2012

Can we trust a U.S. DOE that approves of feeding our children Pink Slime?

Something is wrong with a DOE
who approves of feeding our children Pink slime!
How much money are you willing to bet that no one's children at the United States Department of Education will be eating any Public School Pink Slime burgers, or tacos?
Something is telling me that Arne Duncan's children won't be eating that ammonia-treated meat.  Something is very wrong with buying meat by products that were rejected by McDonald's, Taco Bell, and Burger King, and approving it for public school school lunches. The U. S. Department of Agriculture is purchasing 7 MILLION TONS for school lunches
Where is the outcry from Secretary of Education Duncan? 
Where is the outrage from a First Lady who wants to help end childhood obesity?
Where is the outrage from the American Medical Association? 
Something is very wrong in a Washington DC that feeds our children this stuff. 
Just what is this pink slime they are going to feed America's school children anyway? It is officially known as "Lean Beef Trimmings," a product made from ground-up combination of beef scraps, cow connective tissues and other beef trimmings that are treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill pathogens like salmonella and E. coli. 
It gets all blended into regular meat products like ground beef and hamburger patties.

This is the problem when we turn children into test scores. We dehumanized them. Our schools are for sale, and so are our children. The United States Department of Education under Race To The Top is working with private venture partners to capitalize on the 58 million children that go to public schools in America. There is a for sale sign on our public schools, our children, our parents, and our teachers. 
It is time to occupy the DOE in DC.  Please call the First Lady this surely can't be part of the plan to fight childhood obesity? Secretary Status quo Duncan the Walking Man is coming to occupy the DOE house of shame in DC this March 30, 31, and April 1 & 2. 

Silence and apathy are not acceptable when it comes to our children.
Ready to Occupy,

If you are wondering what the Walking Man is listening to on his walk this morning it Makana We Are The Many 

Here are the lyrics for those of you coming to DC to start practicing for DC people
We Are The Many
Lyrics & Music by MakanaMakana Music LLC © 2011
Ye come here, gather ’round the stage
The time has come for us to voice our rage Against the ones who’ve trapped us in a cage To steal from us the value of our wage
From underneath the vestiture of law
The lobbyists at Washington do gnaw At liberty, the bureaucrats guffaw And until they are purged, we won’t withdraw
We’ll occupy the streets
We’ll occupy the courts We’ll occupy the offices of you Till you do The bidding of the many, not the few
Our nation was built upon the right
Of every person to improve their plight But laws of this Republic they rewrite And now a few own everything in sight
They own it free of liability
They own, but they are not like you and me Their influence dictates legality And until they are stopped we are not free
We’ll occupy the streets
We’ll occupy the courts We’ll occupy the offices of you Till you do The bidding of the many, not the few
You enforce your monopolies with guns
While sacrificing our daughters and sons But certain things belong to everyone Your thievery has left the people none
So take heed of our notice to redress
We have little to lose, we must confess Your empty words do leave us unimpressed A growing number join us in protest
We occupy the streets
We occupy the courts We occupy the offices of you Till you do The bidding of the many, not the few
You can’t divide us into sides
And from our gaze, you cannot hide Denial serves to amplify And our allegiance you can’t buy
Our government is not for sale
The banks do not deserve a bail We will not reward those who fail We will not move till we prevail
We’ll occupy the streets
We’ll occupy the courts We’ll occupy the offices of you Till you do The bidding of the many, not the few
We’ll occupy the streets
We’ll occupy the courts We’ll occupy the offices of you Till you do The bidding of the many, not the few
We are the many
You are the few

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Who will teach our children? What I learned in Selma!

The lesson from Selma Alabama keep on marching


I want to comment on Valerie Strauss's article in last week’s Washington Post: Teacher job satisfaction plummets — Survey By Valerie Strauss. Kevin G. Welner, Strauss’s guest blogger writes: " It’s not fun to be repeatedly punched in the gut. And we can now quantify how not-fun it is, at least when teachers are the punches.  Over the past two years of gut-punching, teacher job satisfaction has fallen from 59 percent to 44 percent."   
Yes teachers can quantify it, teachers can feel it, and teachers are under vicious attack from both the right and left.
The emerging problem: Who will teach our children if job satisfaction for teachers keeps plummeting?  Reflecting on that question I posted the above article on our Children Are More Than test Scores Facebook page with this caption: "Perhaps in the future our children will be taught by robots, machines with out feelings, without emotions, and who view all children as data to be crunch. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's policies inspire no one, but testing company CEOs. The DC DOE has failed from the very beginning of NCLB to understand rather than testing children they needed to find ways to inspire them.  To win their minds you need to win their hearts. They just don't get it."
Word from the street: Members responded quickly to this one. However one response from a teacher I highly respect, a teacher who has been fighting the good fight since her first day in the classroom stuck out among the others:  "No, they used "force" Jesse did I ever tell you about the regional meeting I went to out here in Southern CA a Principal sent me-she sent me because she wanted me to see, I think, what the machine looked like. A Fed ran it. It had to do with underperforming schools-back 7 years ago. In this he talked about forcing teachers to do these things. Using profanity, talking about shoving down our throats-whatever is necessary. Most unethical thing I ever saw." 
The truth: This teacher is right NCLB/RTTT is top down driven policy FORCE down our throats. The Feds have bullied children, parents, teachers, and public schools at every level. We have been isolated, marginalized, and threatened by the DOE in DC for over a decade at this point. Secretary Arne Duncan likes to say he respects teachers. If his reform policies are his way of supporting and respecting teachers than he must believe the Moon is made of cream cheese.  
A fact: the DC DOE has spent nearly a trillion dollars on experimental education reform models that have shown little or no effect on closing the achievement gap.  In 2001 the DOE said we needed new rigorous standards and new tests. All 50 states developed new standards and tests, and they failed to close the achievement gap. Now the DOE is saying once again we need new standards and testing Part 2. Of course if states want access to the very tax dollars they send to Washington they better shut up, and follow along. 
America's parents, teachers, and schools have a choice. We can go along to get along, or we can resist. We can learn about resisting from the Civil Rights Movement.
A little history: I view NCLB/RTTT policies as the new Jim Crow. Jim Crow laws were created to keep African Americans from voting, and living freely in the south. Jim Crow created two sets of laws one for whites, and another for blacks. Under the law Whites would have all the powers granted them under the constitution, and African Americans would be denied those very same rights. In particular the right to vote would be kept from African Americans. Thus the voice of African Americans would not be heard in state capitals. Opposition to Jim Crow is a long bloody brutal history of oppression against Black Americans. Our nation has a rich history of resistance to Jim Crow. My 400 mile-walk from Connecticut to DC to protest excessive high stakes testing in 2010 was inspired by the Civil Rights movement’s response to Jim Crow.   
Sometimes you go to the source: Last week I went to Selma Alabama for the Sunday Bloody Sunday Jubilee. I went to Selma cognizant that the Edmund Pettus Bridge is sacred ground in the Civil Rights Movement. I went to the place where I could draw strength, the place where I could draw inspiration. The sacred place where I could learn how to fight back against unjust policies. I went to place where I could learn from the elders. 
Those elders who marched on that bridge in 1965,
Those elders met by Governor George Wallace’s State Troopers,
Those elders who were gassed,
Those elders who were beaten,
Those elders who lost love ones,
Those elders who were brutally beat, but could not be beaten,
Those elders who carry sacred lessons,
Those elders taught us
Force won't turn you around,
Shame won't turn you around,
Lies won't turn you around.
You have a date with justice, you have a date with righteousness, and until that date comes keep on moving, keep on talking, and keep on marching.
Something deep in my soul tells me a change is gonna come.
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you want to know what the walking man is listening to today on his walk it's Leela James "A change is gonna come"

Monday, March 5, 2012

Spread the word from Selma Alabama's Education Summit

Sunday Bloody Sunday: the cost of freedom should not be forgotten

At the Education Summit at the Selma Jubilee a simple, but powerful truth emerged: Civil Rights is education, and education is Civil Rights! 
The history not on that Race To The Top test is "Sunday Bloody Sunday". 
Walking on the Edmund Pettus Bridge yesterday March 4 2012 I stood on that sacred ground, that place where a people said enough is enough. Where Black Americans demanded the right to vote. Selma is a people's legacy to democracy.
A rich noble American legacy where people stood up, spoke up, and marched into the history books.  Where Jimmie Lee Jackson a 26 year-old Deacon was fatally shot by an Alabama State Police officer as he protected his mother his mother from being beaten at Mack’s Café by the police. A legacy of non-violence met with brutal violent racism, a legacy written in the blood of an innocent people. In Education they test what they want children to remember. Jamie Lee Jackson is not on any NCLB/RTTT test, Sunday Bloody Sunday is not on the test, Civil Rights is not on their test. 

The Selma-to-Montgomery March for voting rights was actually three marches. They represent the  Blood Cost of the modern civil rights movement. On "Bloody Sunday," March 7, 1965, 600 civil rights marchers marched six blocks to the Edmund Pettus Bridge where state and local lawmen brutally attacked them with billy clubs and tear gas and drove them back into Selma. The vote is paid for in blood. 
This legacy bridge is not on their test, but it is Sacred Ground in Civil Rights movement.
Spread the word Civil Rights is education, and education is civil rights. Race To The Top is a lie. No matter how many times you tell a lie it is still a lie. 
School equity is not a lottery,
A school choice where some children win, and some children lose is not equity,
Equity is not a race,
Equity is not schools competing.
Equity will not be found in a Secretary of Education who wants us to join his Race To The Top.
All children deserve equity not just the lucky few. 
Someone tell the Secretary of False Equity Arne Duncan, that the Walking Man Jesse Turner is coming to occupy the DOE in DC this March 30, 31, April 1 & 2. 

Spread the word from the Selma Jubilee Education Committee Sunday Bloody Sunday is more important than the test. The sacred is embedded into our memory not because it's on some test, but because it is sacred. 

In my younger days when I ran the streets we use to say two from the heart. Here are two short real clips from the heart from the Walking Man at the Slavery Museum in Selma Alabama:

Children should be more than Test Scores
60 seconds

  School equity should not be something children compete for!
59 seconds  

 Want to know what the Walking Man is listening to: Ain't no body gonna turn me around:
Still marching,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Ain't No Body Gonna Turn Me Around, Keep on Marching, Keep on Talking, Someone Tell Arne We Are Coming To Occupy His DOE

The word from the Selma Jubilee Education Committee is they are not buying RTTT. Equity is not something schools should have to be competing for. Over and over again speakers at the Education summit has said NCLB/RTTT has left schools more segregated than ever.

Spread the word far and wide the people in Selma Alabama where Martin Crossed that Sunday Bloody Sunday bridge do not buying Secretary Arne Duncan's Hype. The call here is to support ALL schools.

I'll be marching across that bridge Sunday at 11:AM with Ceresta Smith from SOS, Morna Mcdermott McNulty of United Opt, marching with all those beautiful Civil Rights Activists.
Tell it in DC, in Florida,
In New Orleans,
In Chicago, in Tucson,
In California, in Boston,
In New York, in Wisconsin,
In Colorado, Oregon,
In Texas, in Michigan,
Tell it in Connecticut, in Indiana,
Tell it in Maryland, in New Jersey.
Shout it on every mountain top in America that School equity cannot be achieved through testing.
We are marching in the light of God here in Selma, and ain't no body gonna turn us around, keep on walking, keep on talking,
Tell Secretary Status Quo Aren Duncan we are coming to Occupy the DOE in DC,
Still walking, Still marching,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner