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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I am an SOSer, a street fighter against the tyranny of pain known as NCLB

I am an SOSer
I am going to Washington DC, 
I am relentless,
I am unwavering, 
I am still marching.
I am Jesse The Walking Man Turner.

Bruce Springsteen sings in Rocky Ground
"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
The angels are shouting "Glory Hallelujah" 

I am a Shepard rising up. 
I am traveling over rocky ground
Glory Hallelujah!
I am calling for A Gathering of Shepards' 

I clearly remember that day, 
some 45 years ago ~
when my father abandoned us.
I was 10 years old, 
This time, I took the slap that was meant for Momma.
I fell to the ground,
 but I got right back up ~ ready for the next.
He knew it was time to go.
And so he did.
Before we knew it,
 we were on the streets.

Momma tells me I was born fighting for life. 
We knew Thanksgivings without a turkey,
The Christmas without a tree,
The winter without heat, or electricity,
Lived in emergency housing,
Know that a loaf of wonder bread and a jar of mayonnaise can be a Thanksgiving feast for the hungry.
"There go I,  for the Grace of God ~ one of Mom's constant sayings.
I was taught to be grateful for what I have,
There is always someone far worse off.
Our schools and libraries were warm, 
reading is magic by candle light ~ in a house without electricity.
My teachers made a difference, everyday.
Just by being there to teach.
Who says "Poverty doesn't matter?"
Poverty Matters America!

Momma and my teachers taught me to stand up for what is right.
I learned about justice and hope at home and in school.
I found heroes on the book shelves at my local library.
I didn’t have much, but I had Momma, teachers, and books.
Growing up without a male role model is hard, 
but I found Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mocking Bird”. 
Atticus Finch, 
moral hero of heroes 
in a narrative that can be found at every local library.
I read it with Momma every night for two weeks straight ~ by candlelight.
Momma cried when Tom Robinson died, 
we both fell in love with Boo Radley, the reclusive hero.
Harper Lee’s book was the first family read in our home.
To Kill A Mocking Bird ~ a narrative to take to the bank.
the kind of books 
that these Education Reformers and their Common Core Cheerleaders say 
children need less of.
These reformers who say we need to test everything.
These reformers who say we need computerized tracking systems 
tests for every subject.
During these days of tight budgets 
one might wonder
"How will these reformers pay for their reforms?"
Their plan is to make schools compete like Greyhounds. 
Run them until they drop.
Increase class size.
Underfund libraries.
Hire drive by "pension-less" teachers who come and go.
Attack teachers.
Attack Schools of Education.
Attack democratically elected Boards of Education.
Attack everyone who dares to fight back. 

In the words of Atticus Finch
They're certainly entitled to think that, 
and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions... 
but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself.  
The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule 
is a person's conscience." 

Momma was right ~ I was born fighting for life.
Momma your boy was also born to fight injustice.
America ~ reading narratives can give poor boys a conscience!
Perhaps, Who Knows, 
is that why they want to replace narratives with non-fiction?

Tell it on every mountain top 
the Walking Man is coming to DC ~ year # 3. 
Send it in a telegram to Secretary Status Quo Arne Duncan
I will fight the injustice of his policies.
His policies that reduce children to test scores.
His policies that remain quiet, as poor communities have to slash the budget of their library in order to pay for Duncan's unfunded mandates... 
His policy that forces special education teachers to spend their days 
writing reports, attending meetings, 
and not teaching children in need.
His policy that allows for the madness that increases class size 
in order to pay for computerized testing.
Washington DC policy that spends billions on Duncan's mad Race To The Top.
Policy where some children win,
 and some lose,
 in schools that are forced to compete for limited resources. 
Tell the world,
 I am going to DC, again.
Just to tell our nation's leaders,
 and those fake DC reformers, 
that children are more than test scores. 
I am still walking,
I am still marching,
I am still blogging,
I am a proud SOSer,
A fighter against the tyranny of Race To The Top.

It’s simple, America.
Silence and Apathy are not acceptable,
especially when it comes to our children.

Meet me in DC at the Save Our School People’s Education Convention 
Friday August 3rd to Sunday August 5th, 2012.

Just another Shepard 
traveling on Rocky Ground,
Jesse ~ The Walking Man ~ Turner.  

The song taking me all the way to SOS's People Education Convention in DC this Friday August 3, 2012 is  Bruce Spingsteen's Rocky Ground

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Imagine a day without testing!

Here is a thought people:
What if next May 1st everyone walks out of school, and holds a public teach-in?
What if students, parents and teachers worked together for a teach-in day of without testing?
What if students spent next May 1st learning for the sake of learning?
What if no politicians were invited?
What if Arne Duncan was not invited?
What if no hedge fund mangers were invited?
What if children, parents, teachers read together for enjoyment?
What if we painted community murals?
What would happen if we celebrated music and dance on that day without testing?
What would happen if we practiced our democratic right to march, to assemble, and protest this madness that spent 1.2 trillion dollars on testing and standards?
What if children, parents, and teachers shouted class size matters?
What if the people shouted poverty matters?
What if we registered new voters, and educated all voters on that day about how school reform should be more than a race?
What if we did this in every city, town, village in the nation?
What if everyone demanded main stream media cover it?
What if we boycotted any company that supports more testing?
What if grandmas', grandpas', guardians, uncle, Tio(s) aunts, Tia(s), our bothers and sisters joined us?
What if we all banded together for one day without testing?
My thinking is that day would change the world.
I'll be there next May 1st,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

Guess what song the Walking Man is listening to all the way to the SOS People's Education Convention on August 3-5 in DC?
john Lennon's Imagine!  Imagine

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Imagine a world Ed Reform drive by teachers

Here is an excellent short blog by a elementary student responding to a teacher volunteer first year post. Read it for yourself, and see my poetic reply to our nation's education deformers.
Link of blog:,28803/?ref=auto 

Counter Point Blog: 

My Year Volunteering As A Teacher Helped Educate A New Generation Of Underprivileged Kids


When I graduated college last year, I was certain I wanted to make a real difference in the world. After 17 years of education, I felt an obligation to share my knowledge and skills with those who needed it most.
After this past year, I believe I did just that. Working as a volunteer teacher helped me reach out to a new generation of underprivileged children in dire need of real guidance and care. Most of these kids had been abandoned by the system and, in some cases, even by their families, making me the only person who could really lead them through the turmoil.
Was it always easy? Of course not. But with my spirit and determination, we were all able to move forward. 
Those first few months were the most difficult of my life. Still, I pushed through each day knowing that these kids really needed the knowledge and life experience I had to offer them. In the end, it changed all of our lives.
In some ways, it's almost like I was more than just a teacher to those children. I was a real mentor who was able to connect with them and fully understand their backgrounds and help them become the leaders of tomorrow.
Ultimately, I suppose I can never know exactly how much of an impact I had on my students, but I do know that for me it was a fundamentally eye-opening experience and one I will never forget.


Can We Please, Just Once, Have A Real Teacher?


You've got to be kidding me. How does this keep happening? I realize that as a fourth-grader I probably don't have the best handle on the financial situation of my school district, but dealing with a new fresh-faced college graduate who doesn't know what he or she is doing year after year is growing just a little bit tiresome. Seriously, can we get an actual teacher in here sometime in the next decade, please? That would be terrific.
Just once, it would be nice to walk into a classroom and see a teacher who has a real, honest-to-God degree in education and not a twentysomething English graduate trying to bolster a middling GPA and a sparse law school application. I don't think it's too much to ask for a qualified educator who has experience standing up in front of a classroom and isn't desperately trying to prove to herself that she's a good person.
I'm not some sort of stepping stone to a larger career, okay? I'm an actual child with a single working mother, and I need to be educated by someone who actually wants to be a teacher, actually comprehends the mechanics of teaching, and won't get completely eaten alive by a classroom full of 10-year-olds within the first two months on the job.
How about a person who can actually teach me math for a change? Boy, wouldn't that be a novel concept!
I fully understand that our nation is currently facing an extreme shortage of teachers and that we all have to make do with what we can get. But does that really mean we have to be stuck with some privileged college grad who completed a five-week training program and now wants to document every single moment of her life-changing year on a Tumblr?
For crying out loud, we're not adopted puppies you can show off to your friends.
Look, we all get it. Underprivileged children occasionally say some really sad things that open your eyes and make you feel as though you've grown as a person, but this is my actual education we're talking about here. Graduating high school is the only way for me to get out of the malignant cycle of poverty endemic to my neighborhood and to many other impoverished neighborhoods throughout the United States. I can't afford to spend these vital few years of my cognitive development becoming a small thread in someone's inspirational narrative.
But hey, how much can I really know, anyway? I haven't had an actual teacher in three years.

The Walking Man reply:

Welcome to the education reformer drive-by-teaching world

Imagine a world full of drive by teachers
A world, where teachers take shortcuts to the classroom, 

A world where teachers are labeled highly qualified after attending a five-week summer crash course on teaching,

A world, where teachers want to move on after a year, or two,
A world where your children are stepping stones to something more,
Welcome to teaching world our education reformers dream of for your children.

Welcome to teaching world of teaching that took 150 years to build

The world where teachers take that more difficult traditional road the classroom,

The road that requires:

At least five years hard work, 
Real dedication, 

Spending large amounts of time in real classrooms in course related field experiences,

Passing a rigorous student teaching assignment under the supervision of a teacher, 

Passing multiple licensing exams the old fashion,

A world where the teachers dream of teaching children for the next 35 years, 

A world where teachers see the classroom as something more,
A world without drive by teachers,

This is the world education reformers want to destroy.

Imagine thinking anything less than the hard road to teaching is better.

Guess which teachers teach their children?

Still walking,
Still marching,
Still teaching, and
Going to the SOS People's Education convention,

Jesse The Walking Turner

Over 30-years later I am still inspired by the faces in my classroom, and baffled by the views of our nation's policy makers and politicians on education.   
The Walking Man is listening on his walk is listening to Bruce Springsteen "Rocky Ground" as he gets ready for the SOS People's Education Convention. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Save Our Schools Still Marching to DC

NEA yesterday voted against supporting SOS's People's Education Convention. It appears some Florida delegates took to the floor claiming that SOS is a Michelle Rhee backed group.  This is complete fabrication.

Fred Klonsky a Chicago teacher, well known blogger, and bother to Mike Klonsky a member of the SOS National Steering Committee reported back via his blog:
"Q: What happened with the NBI supporting the SOS conference in Washington that is planned for August?
A: It got voted down.
Jane Watson, an SOS supporter and delegate from Washington state said simple NBI that didn't ask for much than an endorsement of the conference and putting a link to SOS on the NEA website. It seemed very non-controversial. I have to say that most delegates in the hall know very little about SOS.
Then somebody, I don't know who, offered an amendment to send the issue of working with SOS to the Executive Committee. I thought this was probably a good idea since the NEA had supported the SOS march in Washington and had a relationship with the organizers. But that was rejected by the delegates for reasons that had nothing to do with the issue of SOS itself and had more to do with RA rules.
But then suddenly a group of delegates from Florida - I don't know who they are - went to the mic and started blasting SOS. They claimed it was a Michelle Rhee front group. One claimed that the organization had "withered" since the Washington march and that Diane Ravitch has quit."

Diane Ravitch's message this morning suddenly makes perfect sense to me:
“I have had several emails from people at the NEA representative assembly asking me if I was no longer supportive of the Save Our Schools organization.  Apparently some delegate got up and said I had disassociated myself from the group. I replied that this was untrue.  I was invited to speak this summer, and I declined but that was no indication of a lack of support, just a wish to minimize travel during the summer.  I participated as the lead respondent in an SOS webinar on June 19. I think that is a show of support.  I support SOS.”

These outspoken Florida delegates have a great deal to answer for.  They got up to speak, and spewed lies; they cannot claim ignorance.  Who knows, maybe this being an election year has changed the waters at NEA.  The same NEA who last year fully endorsed SOS’s march on DC.
Let me emphatically repeat, SOS has not changed since our Washington march. Our principles remain the very same:
For the future of our children, we stand strong in support of:

  • ·       Equitable funding across all public schools and school systems
  • ·       Full public funding of family and community support services
  • ·       Full funding for 21st century school and neighborhood libraries
  • ·       An end to economically and racially re-segregated schools 

  • ·       The use of multiple and varied assessments to evaluate students, teachers, and schools
  • ·       An end to pay per test performance for teachers and administrators
  • ·       An end to public school closures based upon test performance

  • ·       Educator and civic community leadership in drafting new ESEA legislation
  • ·       Federal support for local school programs free of punitive and competitive funding
  • ·       An end to political and corporate control of curriculum, instruction and assessment decisions for teachers and administrators

  • ·       Support for teacher and student access to a wide-range of instructional programs and technologies
  • ·       Well-rounded education that develops every student’s intellectual, creative, and physical potential
  • ·       Opportunities for multicultural/multilingual curriculum for all students
  • ·       Small class sizes that foster caring, democratic learning communities

What is new in 2012 at SOS?
A) We established a Civil Rights committee.  Why? Specifically because almost everything that is happening to children in our nation’s public schools is related to civil rights violations.

B) We created a Labor committee, to work on a platform that supports labor.  Why? Because we believe in unions.

C) We followed up on a promise made at last year’s SOS Congress.   Nancy Carlsson-Paige along with Deborah Meyer are currently working on our early childhood platform with our Early Childhood Committee.  

These were the three areas that SOSers felt we needed to strengthen after last years march.

Of course SOS still rejects No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top policies. 

Looking forward to seeing everyone at the Save Our Schools Peoples Education Convention in DC. where children, parents, teachers and public schools are so much more important than lies, or politics!
Still marching, 
Jesse The Walking Man Turner
SOS March National Steering Committee

Monday, July 2, 2012

Poverty matters Secretary Let Them Eat Tests

Secretary Arne Duncan, and his crew have been focusing on the Common Core and more testing they somehow over looked the staggering statistic that for the first in American over 1 MILLION Children attending our public schools are homeless. Our nation's mainstream media and billionaires love to cite Secretary Status Quo Duncan's rhetoric as an indicator of successful Education Reform Policy.
Let's all make this perfectly clear saying poverty does not matter is failing 1 million children attending our public schools. You could fight for them, but you rather test them.
Testing and standards doesn't house them,
Testing and standards doesn't feed them,
Testing and standards doesn't put their parent back to work,
NCLB and RTTT 1 trillion dollars spent on testing and standards failed them,
You Secretary Duncan have failed them.
Don't believe the hype America,
Poverty matters!
Momma always always said there go I, but for the grace of god. The truth is the wealthy and the powerful don't say that. They can never see themselves as poor, as hungry, and this is why in their minds poverty is something they cannot comprehend.

Even when hungry, and not certain where we would sleep at night Momma always read us Matthew 25:35-40 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me." 
So all of you 1% percenters remember this. There shall come a day when all we do shall be judged, and all we did not do shall be marks upon our souls.
Children are more than test scores, and the homeless children coming to our nation's public schools deserve more than the hype of new standards.
Still marching,

If you are wondering what the Walking Man is listening to today on his's Woody Guthrie's I Ain't Got No Home

If you are wondering what the Walking Man is reading: