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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A new narrative of love

Martin Luther King said "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

My dear friend Kris Nielsen, asked for some advice about addressing an audience tonight on Badass Teachers Facebook page. > <
He asked what should I tell them.
So I said, tell them that Ed Reformers live in fear, sell fear, they fear the future. Their mantra of fear is, your children won't be able to compete in the twenty-first century. You need to be afraid of the future. Your children need tough love, more rigor, more testing. Know that these very same people pushing this fear-do not send their children to our public schools. Their children attend schools of love.
Kris, tell them you come in the name of love. A love of children, parents, teachers, and our public schools.
Tell them one man is walking in the name of love from Connecticut to DC for them.Tell them they are loved. Tell that I am walking for them.
One Man Walking In The Name Of Love To DC,

PS, did I say it's official I am walking to DC(-: You can find all about my walk at And if you want to find out more about my first historic walk to DC. From Mark Larson from his "Legion of Davids" an online community that shares the efforts of education activists. Here's Mark's 2012 interview with me about the genesis of his first walk to DC.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Here I am Lord, let me be their radical witness

Dr. Mark Naison the founder of National Badass Teachers Association, asked all 52,000 BATS.  To become extremist in their actions to defend children, teachers, and local schools.  When I heard Dr. Naison call,  I remember a dreamer unjustly jailed. A man of the cloth, a man of God, a man of love. He who wrote a letter from his prison prison. He call upon American to become extremist for love. He wrote : “Was not Jesus an extremist for love? . . .then he asked: "the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be.” So I am answering Dr. Naison's call, and I am answering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. question. What follow is my extremist plan of love for our nation's public schools, their children, and their teachers.

Ring every bell; shout it on every street corner, in every hamlet, and from every mountaintop.
Jesse The Walking Man Turner is walking to Washington DC again.
Tell everyone you know that silence and apathy are not acceptable, when children are turned in data and profits.

Tell every parent,
Every teacher,
Every child,
I hear their cries.

Tell the President,
Tell every Senator,
Tell every member of Congress,
Tell the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan,
That them that the people have a witness,
Tell that witness is coming to DC,
 Proclaiming an end this reign of testing abuse.

Tell every BAT, that the Walking Man is timing his walk to their Washington DC Congress,
Tell parents, students, and teachers I plan on meeting a 1000 parents and teachers on my walk.
I will open my heart, open my soul, and listen deeply to their stories,
I shall carry their tears, their hurt, and hopes to DC,
I will be their witness in in our nation's capitol.

Who Am I?
I have no money,
I have no power,
I am not connected to the politically powerful,
I do not dine with millionaires and billionaires,

Who Am I?
I am an AFT Legacy teacher,
At eight years old, I heard a man share a dream in DC in 63,
Holding on to my grandfather's hand that dreamer's dream,
Fell sweetly into my heart,
Where I have held it closely,
Where it comforted me on dark days,
Where it built my character,
Where it planted my integrity,
Where it planted my hope for better days,

Who Am I?
I am an AFT Legacy Teacher,
And that dream empowers me,
To walk,
To march,
And to bear witness to injustice,
Witness to the 12 years of abuse to our nation's public school children and their teachers.

So you tell everyone,
The Walking Man is coming to DC.
The mission is 400 miles
40 days,
Every step a blessing,
Heeding Martin's call to be an extremist for love,
Love, love, love,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner If you want to know who I was listening to on my walk today? It was Barry Lane "Jesse Turner Walking Man" 

In the name of Love

Election came and went, now it's time to for the people to do the people's work. Freedom is not free, and injustice does not just walk away. Forcing poor schools to compete against each other will never be anything, but dog eat dog education policy.

Robert Fulghum, author of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten said:
“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge.
That myth is more potent than history.
That dreams are more powerful than facts.
That hope always triumphs over experience.
That laughter is the only cure for grief.
And I believe that love is stronger than death.”

So in the name of love, I will step up my battle against education policies that reduce our children to data, our teachers to wardens, and our schools into proficiency factories.
In the name of love,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If people are wondering what this Walking Man is listening to on his walk this morning? It's Leela James singing that old Sam Cook tune "A is gonna come"...> &lt;

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Billionaires amd Hedge Fund managers or Civil Rights leaders and groups?  Valerie Strauss article in the Washington Post today pointed out "Eleven civil rights groups urge Obama to drop test-based K-12 'accountability' system"

I wonder whose voice will the White House listen to?
Civil Right Leaders or Billionaires?
Let me put my thinking cap on...
There was a NAACP Resolution opposing charter schools in 2010,
Still this White House has made Charter Schools the center of their Race To The Top policies.
So no more wondering it's billionaires people,
It's raining billionaires in the white House,
It's raining billionaires in the senate,
It's raining billionaires in the congress,
It's raining billionaires in governor's mansions,
It's raining billionaires in state legislators,
It's raining billionaires in every mayor's office,
It's raining billionaires in every State Commissioner of Education office,
It's raining billionaires in mainstream media,
It's raining billionaires on Wall Street,
Those voices not heard by the powerful, the connected, and the wealthy,
America's parents,
America's teachers,
America's children,
America's Civil Rights Leaders.
They have made America's schools capital ventures,
Turned America's children into data points,
Turned America's teachers' into rotten apples,
I'm not urging anything,
Silence and apathy are not acceptable,
Occupy our public schools now!
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you like to know what the Walking Man was listening to on his morning walk today it's "We Are The Many"

"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"

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Beyond the Achievement GAP, or it's the Opportunity Gap people!

Day 4,780 of NCLB's Reign Of Testing Terror.
Americans were told in 2001 that our education system was in crisis, and the solutions would be "Outcomes-based reforms," and NCLB would fix our schools.
Every child in grades 3 to 8 would be reading, writing, and doing math at grade level by 01/01/14. Never happened!
They promised they would reduce the Achievement Gap. Never happened!        
They promise they would reduce racial isolation in our public schools. Never Happened!
They promise that new standards and testing would wipe away special needs and second language learner issues. Their solution simply make all children take the same test. Another  promised not delivered!

Over a trillion dollars federal tax dollars went to pushing new standards and testing and outcomes-based education reforms. 4,780 days later the data is in. Our children in grades 3 to 8 are not reading, writing, and doing math at grade level. I call this, the single largest policy failure in American education history.  A massive policy collaborative failure at the Federal level and state level. 
No one in the United States Department of Education was ever asked to account for this policy failure, no one was fire, and no one was reprimanded. There were no legislative hearings held to question these policy failures. Not legislative hearing even as policy makers advocate once again new standards, new testing, and more "Out-Comes based solutions again.
I know of no legislators, policy makers, or USDE leaders in Washington DC advocating for any real significant change in policy. They advocate Common Core State Standards, new tests, more charter-schools, and every initiative is "Out-comes driven"

I can't help, but feel America's children, parents, teachers, and local schools are on their own. I do however suggest a different model for improving our public schools.
I propose shift to an "In-Put model. Others have advocated and are advocating for it. I suggest we drop the notion of “Out-Comes” based reforms, and put the Achievement Gap on the back burner.  I am not proposing we put special needs learners, children of color, or second language learners on the back burner. I want these learners on the front burner. We do that not by turning these learners into data, but by equalizing the learning field. 
The time has come to advocate for "In-Put' based solutions. We don't need more outcomes data; we need to start collecting, analyzing, and supporting "In-Put solutions that directly address the inequalities in our nation's public schools. If your improvement does not help reduce the inequalities of racial, poverty, and special needs students then we don't need it.  

Abraham Maslow over six decades ago proposed his Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs’” which suggested that before human beings could meet the higher expectations there basic needs had to be met.
In order to learn human beings must have their basic needs for food, water, sleep, shelter, need to feel safe, and need love, intimacy and friendship. OUT-Come based solutions cannot fill these needs in our schools, but “In-Put” driven solutions can. I am suggesting NCLB/RTTT reforms focused on the wrong data and held the wrong people accountable. Children, teachers, and public schools are not responsible for rectifying inequality, but society is.
It is time to make equity the standard, and hold policy makers and legislators accountable for reducing inequalities that are overwhelming our nation's public schools.

Abraham Maslow said: "
All the evidence that we have indicates that it is reasonable to assume in practically every human being, and certainly in almost every newborn baby, that there is an active will toward health, an impulse towards growth, or towards the actualization." Something deep inside me has me thinking Maslow would say NCLB had it all wrong.

How many generations must be sacrificed, before we accepts that it's the “Opportunity Gap” not the  “Achievement Gap” that matters?
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

Wonder what the Walking Man was listening to on his walk in the rain this morning...It was Eric Clapton's "Change The World" > <

Friday, August 29, 2014

Labor proud, labor strong, solidarity forever

Happy Labor Day America.
In 1962 looking back Elizabeth Gurley Flynn said:  "We couldn't see things with the eyes of 1962. We saw them with the eyes of 1905 through about 1917. Well, we certainly never heard of such a thing and we never thought it would be possible, that there would be social security or unemployment insurance... Also, we never heard of vacations with pay. We never heard of vacations, let alone vacations with pay. We never heard of seniority as it is understood today. There were no pensions for retirement of workers."
In 2014 looking ahead we may very well lose everything that was gained by generations of Americans. Silence and apathy are the actions that will leave America's poor, the elderly, and the sick  on their own, and is leaving middle class Americans in a sea of debt. Not afraid anymore, unions make us strong. I grew labor strong through watching and following the life of that labor giant César Chávez 
Sí, se puede,  
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you are wondering what the Walking Man is listening to on his walk this morning it's NEA Vice President singing that old 1915 rallying cry "Solidarity Forever"

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Telling a lie over and over again is not truth, it's propaganda

This is an excellent article today in Truth-Out Education Inc, the link is below.
My take on the article follows:
The quote in the article that kept sticking out for me was.. “This predominant storyline places the blame for this perceived crisis on public schools, parents, teachers and their unions, and has been very effectively sold to us through a narrative that has been repeated over and over again - by our politicians, the super rich and the corporate media”….

Why this sticks out? Perhaps because I heard it before?
“But the most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly and with unflagging attention. It must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over. Here, as so often in this world, persistence is the first and most important requirement for success. : "War Propaganda", in volume 1, chapter 6 of Mein Kampf (1925), by Adolf Hitler.

What’s the story Dr. Turner well the story is…“This predominant storyline places the blame for this perceived crisis on public schools, parents, teachers and their unions, and has been very effectively sold to us through a narrative that has been repeated over and over again - by our politicians, the super rich and the corporate media.” Over a decade later and 1.2 trillion dollars federal tax dollars later with little or nothing to show for itself. Well the story goes on and on, and children and teachers are it's victims.

You have it parents and teachers, it’s all propaganda sold to us over, and over again by government officials, politicians, and cooperate education reformers. Propaganda that reduces our children, teachers, and their schools to test scores and profits. Steven Biko said: "The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed."
The time is here to free our minds and our children from this corporate propaganda that demoralizes children, teachers, and places for sale on our local public schools.
Children are more than test scores,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you want to know what I weas listening to on my walk's the OJAYS Money, Money, Money...

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Like a tree by the river, I shall not be moved!

Why DC? It's our nation's sacred ground!
Why travel to stand with my fellow teachers, and with parents?
It's a teacher thing?
It's a BAT thing!
It's an Opt Out thing!
It's an American thing!
Why fight the wealthy, powerful, and the connected?
It's a moral thing!
Why fight back against injustice?
It's A Selma thing!
It's a Walking Man thing!
It's the right thing!
William Lloyd Garrison that great abolitionist said: "I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or to speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; — but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.”
In 15 days I will drive down to Washington DC with a carload of teachers to the stand against our United States Department of Education polices that reduce children to test scores, turn teachers into the enemy, parents as naive moaners, and public schools as the problem. No lobbyist, no political party, no union is paying for the gas, the hotel, the meals, Bill Gates is not funding this ride. My own dime is driving this car. Morality does not travel on the money of the wealthy, the powerful, or the connected, morality travels on the wings of hope.
I will not equivocate,
I will not excuse,
I will not retreat a single inch,
Like a tree by the a river I will not be moved,
Friends this Walking Man goes to DC on the wings of hope to be heard,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you want to hear what the Walking Man is listening to on his walk today? It's I shall not be be moved by John Hurt. > <

Saturday, June 21, 2014

It not an Achievement Gap America, it's an Opportunity Gap

1 trillion Federal Dollars has been spent on policy that forces schools to compete under the threat of closure during the last decade. We reduced learning and teaching to testing. This focus on outcomes conveniently helps the wealthy, the connected, and the powerful to justify not investing in our schools, our children, and our teachers.
What have we gained?
Over a decade of Ed Reform data points to little or no growth. Actually for our first generation to graduate knowing only No Child Left Behind, we find test scores that are lower than they were in 1992.
What are we losing?
In my view children are losing the opportunity to view learning as fun, and as something personally and socially meaningful.

We are we risking with a national common core?
We risk losing our democracy by emphasizing conformity rather than celebrating our individuality. By focusing solely career goals we lose history, science, art, music, physical education, and play. Trust me these are the subjects that liberate the mind, the soul, and spark a child's imagination.

It's simple while spending over a trillion tax dollars on testing and standards our schools have become more segregated. Rather than fight for equity in our schools, we have spent a decade increasing inequity in our schools. We don't have an Achievement Gap; we have a Gap between a system of have and have not schools.
Steve Jobs said: “I’m a very big believer in equal opportunity as opposed to equal outcome. Equal opportunity to me, more than anything, means a great education. Maybe even more important than a great family life. We could make sure that every young child in this country got a great education. We fall far short of that.”
Steve Jobs got it, the failure to focus on our Opportunity Gap places our children at risk. Focusing on outcomes cannot close our Opportunity Gap. Isn't it time the United States Department of Education started focusing on equity in our schools?
Something deep inside my soul tells me bowing down to childhood makes so much more sense than crushing it.
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you want to know what the Walking Man is listening to today on his walk...its Barry Lane "Know your higher self"

Saturday, May 31, 2014

The difference between 1961 and 2014, in 61 we had childhoods

No one tracked the data online,
No teacher listed his/her SLO on the board,
We took 3 standardized tests,
One in grade 3,
One in grade 6, and
One in grade 9.
The total time spent on this testing was less than 2 days each time.
The state sent no color-coded reports home.
No newspapers published any schools scores.

Our teachers and administrators told us do your test, and remember they really don't count.
There were no Education Reformers without decades of teaching experience.
Teachers and administrators were valued and respected.

The standards educators and parents worried about were bigger than any bubbles on a test.
Their standards in 61 were
Doing our best,
Being fair,
Respect for others,
Being timely,
Being Trustworthy, and
Do the right thing.
All beyond the scope and sequence of any curriculum.
None of it was perfect, but childhood strived and survived.
Parents and teachers tried to stretch it out for as long as possible for their children.
No one ever said he is smart, he'll go places, no they said anyone could go anywhere they wanted as long as they tried their best.
I was not shaped by data, but by my school experience, my time on the playground, my wanderings through our neighborhood, and a million opportunities to be just another boy.
It's simple young people are tested for nearly two months a year these days. With the Common Core it will be every year for 13 years.
That is 516 more days than in my youth. When you break it down by 180 day school years, children today spent nearly three years taking, practicing, or preparing for some standardized test. Testing is not teaching. It time to start teaching our children again.
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you are wondering what this Walking Man will be doing on Sunday June 1, 2014, I be talking to a room full of parents asking them to join in this fight to take back childhood. It's what I seem to be doing every day these days. If you are wondering what the Walking is listening on his way to his talk it's "For what it's worth" >