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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Life is the test, not some Pearson Pineapple bubble sheet test

Education reformers want people to think success is all about the numbers, all about the victories, all about winning some imagined race against some imagined dangerous future. They educate through fear, they educate through humiliation, they educate by reducing children to test scores.
I reject their fear, I reject the way they define success. My thinking on success is that it is not so much about your victories, but your determination to keep getting back up after you have fallen. Every poor boy knows as long as you keep getting up you can’t be beat.
Our 16th President Abraham Lincoln was a poor boy who knew how to keep getting up.
Those fill in the bubble testing reformers could learn a great deal from Lincoln a man who never took any bubble test. For President Lincoln life was the test. I love this one from Chicken Soup For The Soul.

Abraham Lincoln never quits.
Born into poverty, Lincoln was faced with defeat throughout his life. He lost eight elections, twice failed in business and suffered a nervous breakdown.
He could have quit many times – but he didn’t and because he didn’t quit, he became one of the greatest presidents in the United States history.
Here is a sketch of Lincoln’s road to the White House:

1816 His family was forced out of their home. He had to work to support them.

1818 His mother died.

1831 Failed in business.

1832 Ran for state legislature – lost.

1832 Also lost his job – wanted to go to law school but couldn’t get in.

1833 Borrowed some money from a friend to begin a business and by the end of the year he was bankrupt. He spent the next 17 years of his life paying off this debt.

1834 Ran for state legislature again – won.
1835 Was engaged to be married, sweetheart died and his heart was broken.

1836 Had a total nervous breakdown and was in bed for six months.

1838 Sought to become speaker of the state legislature – defeated.

1840 Sought to become elector – defeated.

1843 Ran for Congress – lost.

1846 Ran for Congress again – this time he won – went to Washington and did a good job.

1848 Ran for re-election to Congress – lost.

1849 Sought the job of land officer in his home state – rejected.

1854 Ran for Senate of the United States – lost.

1856 Sought the Vice-Presidential nomination at his party’s national convention – get less than 100 votes.

1858 Ran for U.S. Senate again – again he lost.

1860 Elected president of the United St

Someone tell Secretary Status quo Duncan, that America's children and teachers are more than test scores.  
The Walking is 
And Save Our Schools March is going to hold a People's Education Convention in DC. Feel like joining the revolution email me at

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

There are narratives, and there are narratives

My Momma said sometimes you have to testify. Sometimes you have to stand up in public, and through your tears and your pain you tell your story, your narrative son. Well this week in New York people have been testifying. There are narratives, and there are narratives. There is a war of silence in New York City’s appointed board of education. A war of you do not matter waged against some of our nation’s most battled narratives. The narratives of those from the bottom 99% are not welcomed in Mayor Bloomberg’s world of power and influence. He prefers his narratives sweet and squeaky clean. His narratives trade millions of dollars everyday. His narratives wear Armani, and Crockett & Jones Leeds shoes, and they never testify in public. The mayor is oblivious to the voice of Emma Lazarus that young Jewish poet whose poem sits at the base of the Statue of Liberty.
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-toss to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Her sonnet in 1883 testified that America was a nation of new narratives, a nation where the most battled narratives of the 99% are welcomed. The mayor does not get it. He does not hear it. He cannot see it.  Those narratives are not welcomed in his City Hall, or at the Mayoral Controlled Board of Education. There are narratives, and there are narratives. The narratives of an appointed board of education were not the ones Emma Lazarus had in mind when she wrote her sonnet. The narratives of the appointed are not elected, and they are the narratives of privilege and power that are most welcomed at City Hall. They will not be found at the base of the Statue of Liberty. Well there are narratives, and there are narratives. Emma’s narratives don’t eat at Masa’s restaurant.  Where there are just 26 seats in an elegantly designed Japanese restaurant in the Time Warner Center. There is no menu; all diners will spend about 3 hours having an unparalleled omakase experience. Her narratives are not welcomed at the Masa.
I said there are narratives, and there are narratives. Some narratives are Brooklyn born. Some narratives beat the odds, some narratives like a phoenix rise from the ashes of poverty.  The narrative of Iran Rosario is one of those New York narratives the mayor just does not get. Mr. Rosario walked into Bushwick Community High School 14 year ago, and beat the odds. He testified this week before Mayor Bloomberg’s appointed board of privilege. His story is not unique really, his story is not unheard of, but his story is as American as apple pie. They don’t serve apple pie at Masa’s. He stood up, and told that board of appointed privilege: “Where would I be without this school family? I would be in jail. I would be dead,” said Iran Rosario, a tall bear of a man who wandered in here as a lost 18-year-old and now returned 14 years later as a teacher. “Friends tell you what you want to hear; family tells you what you need to hear. They did that for me, and saved my life.”
His narrative is about a man who became a teacher, his narrative is about a man who came to give back, and a man who testified to a board of privileged number crunchers. His narrative, and the narratives many others are on the the mayor's chopping block. There faiths will be decided by an appointed board that was selected by America's most privileged mayor on Thursday night?
The hope of Bushwick Community High School, a school where all narratives are welcomed and given the opportunity to be educated is on the chopping block.
The Panel for Education Policy is controlled by Mayor Bloomberg, and is set to lay off the principal and half the staff. “Give department officials credit: they don’t really try to argue their indictment on the merits, but on the metrics — that is, test scores and graduation rates.” 

The Iran Rosario(s) are numbers, they are capital, and they are the unwanted narratives of a mayor and his appointed board of privilege. Somewhere there is a God who sees all. Somewhere there is a Jewish poet who loves the narratives of the tired, the poor, the wretched refuse, the homeless, and the tempest-tossed.  On Thursday night her lamp will be lit. The question is will the mayor’s appointed board snuff out the narratives Emma so clearly loved.
With the deepest Love, and respect for the narrative of one Iran Rosario,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you are wondering what the Walking Man was listening to on his walk this morning it was Nappy Roots "Po Folks" that southern poor boy's national anthem. An anthem no one on the mayor's appointed board hears.
All my life been po’
But it really don’t matter no mo’
And they wonder why we act this way
Nappy Boys gon’ be okay
All my life been po’
But it really don’t matter no mo’
If you want to read the New York Times article about Bushwick Community High School click here: > <

If you were a poor boy like me who beat the odds, a poor boy like me who owes his life to the teachers who gave voice to his narrative, and you want to hear Nappy Roots singing Po' Folks click here >  <

Monday, April 23, 2012

Calling two presidents

A President to President happening this week clearly marks NCLB/RTTT as a failure that is taking public education in America in the wrong direction. The letter is well written, and summarizes a great deal of what parents, teachers, education activists, and educators from all walks of life have been saying for over a decade. Mary Broderick the National School Boards Association President echoes the policies of the previous two Secretaries of Education, (Secretary Page and Secretary Spelling), and our current Secretary of Education Duncan of the United States Department of Education as demonizing and demoralizing our nation’s children and teachers. The National School Boards Association is not some radical fringe group, they are a center of the road organzation that has for decades advocated for sane education policies. Mary Broderick wrote a public letter to President Obama that is calling for a national dialogue > < She writes:
"I urge you to convene a national dialogue, not made up of politicians, but including the breadth of educational opinion, to reconsider our educational direction. I would love to help you do this. Let’s ensure that each child has the tools to be successful. Let’s marshal the nation’s brain power and tap into the research, proven practice, and demonstrated evidence of excellence."
I echo Mary Broderick NSBA President’s call for dialogue. I invite The National School Boards Association to join Save Our Schools March who are already holding that dialogue, and are marshaling parents, teachers, school leaders, and leaders from diverse communities to come to our nation's capital this August 3-5 for the People's Education Convention.
I also extend a sincere offer to President Obama to join us at the People's Education Convention as well. I have one condition only Mr. President leave the private sector CEOs home. This is a People's Education Convention, and we want the people's voice to be heard. The people are calling you Mr. President to join us in shaping the future of public education in America. We are calling our president, the one who began his career in that rich grassroots river of democracy to return to that river once again. We are calling you to the people’s river President Obama to wade in the waters of hope and the waters of change. We the people who also have the audacity to hope.
Please forgive us if we have become mistrustful of private sector partners, and the United States Department of Education. Over the past decade it is our belief that their leadership was and is rooted not in sincere dialogue, but in bullying, marginalizing diverse voices that led to an endless series of harmful insensitive top down mandates that have demoralized our nation's public schools. 
Please come President Obama, come hear the people’s view of what the current state of school reform has done to our children, teachers, public schools, and diverse communities. Come help us imagine change, come help build a new vision, a bottom up vision for a new direction for our public schools. Let’s us all build a vision of education reform that empowers children, teachers, all schools, and all communities.
Finally Mr. President we could use another voice with the audacity to hope at our convention. For Save Our Schools the mission has always been about putting the public, our parents, our teachers, our locally elected school boards, and diverse voices back into public education. We invite both you, and Mary Broderick NSBA President to join us at the People’s Education Convention this summer.
Jesse Turner
SOS National Steering Committee 

If people are wondering what the walking man was singing and listening to on his walk today as the sun broke through the clouds: It Mississipppi John Hurt " I shall not be move"
I love singing those words that inspire me, lift me, and point me on the road to hope and change:
Just like the tree,
I shall not be moved
Just like the tree,
I shall, shall not be moved
Just like this tree planted down the waters
Just like the tree,
I shall, shall not be moved

If you want to hear Mississippi John Hurt sing it:
More lyrics: 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

We are marching!

I am inspired by this image of Sisters Ceresta Smith and Morna McDemott walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. This bridge is sacred ground in the Civil Rights movement. That bridge where Civil Rights marchers dared to march across a bridge for the right to vote. That sacred place where marchers were met with force, violence, and death on a Sunday. In Civil Rights history it is recorded as Sunday Bloody Sunday. That bridge where marchers have celebrated that march for 49 years. Ceresta and Morna are walking across that bridge to join the marchers. My heroes have always been marchers. We are on the march again readers. Listen well for the drum as we come your way.

Good morning readers, I walked up the Avon Mountain in Connecticut this morning. It's about a two hour walk, and it is a bit chilly in the morning, but once you reach the top the sun is up, and you can't help feeling warm and inspired. I greeted the sun in prayer, and I found myself more determined, more committed, with a heart full of grace ready to fight for America's children, parents, teachers, and public schools. Dr. Martin Luther King said:
"Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. “

Save Our Schools is going back to our nation's capital to tell it on the mountain one more time. We will ring it out loud and clear; our children are more than test scores.  I am on their National Steering Committee, and SOS has decided to put it all on the table. To go to the mountain one more time. We are going to hold a Save Our Schools “Education Convention: A People’s Policy and Activism Summit.  Democracy is a series of actions. Democracy is something more than political parties, more than elections; democracy is rooted in a people willing to act. Is that not the dream our founding fathers hoped for when they stood against a mad king, and the world's most powerful nation the British Empire? Their dream was of a people acting together standing up to tyrants, and fighting for what is right, and just, and we follow in their footsteps.
Watch out Secretary Status Quo Duncan the Walking Man and his friends are coming back to DC. We are on a mission to take back our schools from those NCLB/RTTT moneychangers. We are on a mission, and we can and are taking back our public schools. You don't stand a chance Secretary Duncan. 
You don’t stand a chance Hedge Fund Billionaires.
You don’t stand a chance ALEC.
You don’t stand a chance you Pearson’s Common Core believers.
You don’t stand a chance you data managers.
The people are coming!
Now no one said the right to do is easy, on the contrary the right to do is never easy. It means rejecting silence, it means rejecting apathy, it means marching when everyone else falls.
We rise today ready to serve. We have great work to do, and America's children, parents, and teachers have placed their faith in people willing to do the right thing in the face of incredible odds. Trust the Walking Man when he tells you many have placed their faith in us. There is not a day that goes by without some parent, or some teacher saying thank you, and their thank you(s) are always about the work and hope that will make our schools more than testing factories.  So the mission remains we are going to make history in DC this summer, and we are going to save our schools, because it is the right thing to do, and we will do so with hearts full of grace and love. People I will need your help in this struggle in the coming months. I have placed my faith in a group of people that have always said walk Walking Man walk for our schools, walk for children, parents, and teachers. So listen for the sound of the drum, Children Are More Than Test Scores and Opt Out are on the march to DC with Save Our Schools.
Dedicated to Sisters Ceresta and Morna my fellow marchers on the road to DC.
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

And if you really want to help just email me at 
If you are wondering what the Walking Man was listening to on his walk up the mountain this more it's The Impressions singing "People Get Ready" 

Friday, April 13, 2012

We are blessed!

I began this day asking people to boycott ALEC member's products on Facebook, but by mid day ended up sharing my rise from poverty, because some ask me to share.
The start of the day
A decade ago parents ask for universal pre-school, and smaller class sizes. The Washington DC deceivers said that is too expensive. So a decade later of DC reforms America has spent nearly 10 trillion dollars on NCLB/RTTT school reforms that increase class size, and did not do anything to make universal pre-school a reality. However the profits of every testing company have gone through the roof, and campaign contributions to our politicians from those companies are at an all time high. The deceivers are laughing all the way to the bank. They think they have silenced children, parents, teachers, and school administrators. They have been to busy to notice the tidal wave coming. Judas took 30 silver pieces! How much have our leaders taken to sell out our children.
We can act.
We can make a difference.
We are not powerless.
We are the people.
No matter what the deceivers tell us we know,
We are a government for the people by the people.
There is not anything more powerful, more beautiful then the people.
I am calling you the beautiful, you the powerful, you the people to act.
Boycott the king of lobbying deceivers ALEC member's products people. Coke, Pepsi, Kraft, and McDonalds have pulled out, because the people told them we are boycotting your products. Today’s target is ATT! Stand up, speak up, email/call ATT, and tell ATT to withdraw from ALEC today, or you will switch. Go for it! It feels so good to let these people know we see through their lies.
Still learning, still teaching, still walking, still marching, still fighting, and now boycotting,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

My mid day sharing
Stefanie, you ask how did I beat the odds of getting out of poverty.

It’s a long story, but I’ll try to make it short.
Let me begin with Momma's five givens, and then my rise.
First and foremost no one climbs out of poverty alone.
Second poverty is not a crime; it is a cancer that left untreated will consume you.
Third poverty like cancer does not strip a human of their dignity.
Fourth people living in poverty like all people are loved by God. Many would even say they are more loved. I was blessed by God’s love from my first breath.
Fifth no human who holds fast to his or her faith and dignity can be beaten.

I may have growth up in poverty, but I was rich in love, faith, and people who cared. My father loved the bottle more than his family, and abandoned his wife, his daughters, and his only son. Let me also say no one can rise from poverty without forgiving others. I forgave him from day 1.
Yes, we knew homelessness, hunger, the thanksgiving without a turkey, the Christmas without a tree, winters without heat, and felt blessed by candles in the night.
There were neighbors who rescued me numerous times when I leaned too close to the gang bangers, drug dealers, and the damned. Like Mr Cruz: “Mijo, what are you doing here? Come with me stupid. These boys are nothing, but trouble. You don’t want me to talk to your Momma do you? I said come with me”
So I went with Mr. Cruz…
There go I, but for the grace of god.

There were times when my decision-making was off.
There were so many times I could have fallen.
Some how at those times Father Fitzgerald always popped around.
“Hey Jesse come walk with me, and let’s have a talk. We walk, and as we walked he fed my soul the parables.”
I think of Father Fritz when ever I sing Amazing Grace.
“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.”
Years later, I would follow his model, and walk those same streets keeping others from falling with Sister Antonelle and Brother Thomas at The Promise.
No one truly rises from poverty without giving back.

Now you need at least one person who would give up the very air she needed to breath if you needed it.
A person strong enough to have never hurt another, a person strong enough not to be consumed by racism in a world of hatred, a person who worked for minimum wage 12 hours a day six days a week.
A person who made her children see a loaf of Wonder Bread, and a jar of mayonnaise as a thanksgiving feast.
I would be nothing without a mother who loved me like a rock..
My Momma was a rock of love.
“My mama loves, she loves me
She gets down on her knees and hugs me
She loves me like a rock
She rocks me like the rock of ages”
No one can rise out of poverty without being loved.

I was blessed by the love of three sisters.
Three beautiful older sisters, three blessings, all who were smarter than me, and who in a just world would have gone further.
I cannot not begin to count the days they carried me on their shoulders. They walked me to school. They made sure my homework was done. On more than one occasion one of those sisters threaten to take down every gangster in the hood if they laid a hand on her little brother. She not only said it, and she could back it up as well.
There are not enough numbers to count the times I have been lifted by the women in my life. I stood on their shoulders. As I said I am blessed.

Finally, you need teachers and Liberians. You need people who make the boring meaningful.
When I thought being a man meant having the passion to fight everyday; Mr. Bass taught me passion is nothing without compassion. Mr. Bass opened the world of books to us all.
Mr. Bass taught us real men never raise their hands against another. Mr. Bass taught us the meaning of dignity through the reading of " To Kill A Mocking Bird". His lessons still guide my every walking hour.
I had many teachers some walked on water, others helped us be better walkers, and some we helped to walk, but everyone of them did the best they could with what they had. No one could ask anymore than that. Teachers are my heroes. They were all blessings sent by God’s angels.

Along side of teachers are librarians. 
The keepers of those hidden treasures those beautiful, beautiful books.
Liberians those saints, who turned the lights on and off, stacked the shelves, welcomed everyone, and always kept the heat on. Nothing fed a hungry heart like a great book, a good chair, and a warm room. Libraries are pieces of heaven fallen to earth.
Some might think I lived in poverty.
In my soul I know I was never poor.
I was blessed with a wealth of loving and caring people.
It is written in scripture that: “A man does not live by bread only, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
I was not born into poverty, but into God’s grace.
Sincerely blessed,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you want to know what the I am listening to on my walk today it On Rocky Ground by Bruce Springsteen