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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Libraries matter more than test scores

I remember falling in love with Miguel de Cervantes's "Don Quixote's Man of La Mancha" when I was 11. I found it at the local library sitting a top a pile of books on a tiger oak table near a window over looking the park. It was around 700 pages, far more pages than I thought myself able to read, but Cervantes whispered my name, calling me to adventure. I opened the book randomly to these lines   “When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!”
It was the winter without heat. The library was always warm, and the librarians were always kind and welcoming, and 700 pages would take a long time to read. So began my adventure as a Knight Errant in the warmest of places our local library. Like Don Quixote I would grow into a defender of truth, honor, and the innocent.

I had more hair back then, but I was always the fighter, always the dreamer, and always A Man Of La Mancha
Libraries matter more than test scores,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

Walking in the rain over the Avon Moutain listening to the sound track from Man Of La Mancha...I found myself feeling so very blessed in so many many ways. Come enter into the imagination of a Knight-Errant > <

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Where is the humanity?

I am tire of Main Stream Media's love affair with education reformers and their mad quest for finding proof points for their high-stakes testing and more rigorous standards policies. I am not waiting for them to come around any longer. I am drawing my line in the sand regarding our public schools. My line is not complicated or complex, from now on any policies regarding our public schools must clearly point to the humanity in those reforms.
Does focusing on high stakes testing demonstrate humanity?
It does not!
Does forcing schools to compete against each other demonstrate humanity?
It does not!
How does a labeling a child Proficient, Above Proficiency, or Below Proficiency demonstrate humanity?
It does not!
How does policy that focuses on standards not children demonstrate humanity?
It does not!
How does giving some schools extra funding, extra resources, extra supports while closing down our poorest and most needy schools demonstrate humanity?
It does not!
How does requiring some teacher education candidates to meet higher standards from day one, while you fast track others, who are allowed to meet those standards two years later if they decide to stay in teaching demonstrate humanity?
It does not!
How does placing special needs children in front of computers to take non validated assessments demonstrate humanity?
It does not!
How does closing community schools in poor communities demonstrate humanity? 
It does not!
How does reducing the success of a child, a teacher, or a school to standardized test scores demonstrate humanity?
It does not!
How do smaller class sizes and greater access in our wealthiest schools to:
Specialized support services,
Art teachers,
Music teachers,
PE teachers,
School nurses,
Social workers,
School psychologist,
School libraries,
Extended day after school programs,
Daily recess breaks,
Time for play,
BUT not for our poorest schools demonstrate humanity?
It does not!
This is my line in the sand: If you can't show me the humanity in your policies then expect me to use every act of Civil Disobedience available to me oppose your policies.
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If people are wondering what I was listening to on my walk over the Avon mountain this morning? It's Dudley AKA Origin new track to document some of the struggles in public education in September 2015.  > &lt;
Bravo Mr. Dudley Albany Public School teacher AKA Origin

Friday, September 18, 2015

Dear Secretary Duncan a message from the Walking Man

Hello Secretary Duncan , my name is Dr. Jesse Patrick Turner, and I am a teacher who occupies the humanity of the spaces I teach. I am inspired by the young voices of those occupying my teaching space. I find magic in the faces I teach. I find hope living in the eyes I teach. I find humanity is a two way street, the more I give the more I recieve. Ralph Waldo Emerson said “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”
Does changing the world begin with reaching one child at a time?
Of course it does!
Does the humanity occupying the space I teach change the world for the children I teach?
Of course it does!
My destiny is not in the hands of the powerful, the wealthy, and the connected. My destiny is in the humanity I bring to teaching?
Secretary Duncan, it is not more rigor, it's more humanity that lifts children up.
It's not testing opening the door to hope.
It's the humanity that occupies the teaching and learning space inside our public schools that opens the door to hope.
Mr. Secretary we don't need new standards!
Mr. Secretary we don't need more rigorous testing!
Mr. Secretary we need more humanity.
Dr. Jesse Patrick Turner
Director of the Central Connecticut State University Literacy

If you like to know what this Walking Man listened to this morning as he walked over the Avon Mountain, if was the Playing for Change version of John Lennon's "Imagine".

Surely we are blessed by the teachers we work with, and the children we teach. Imagine change one child at a time.