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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Let them play

I can't remember one single test answer I wrote.
But I remember,
Milk and cookies,
I remember singing "Rain, Rain Go Away The Kindergarten Wants To Play",
I remember a million moments in gym,
I remember day dreaming my life away in the books we read,
I remember the school yard play ground,
Hand ball,
Jump rope, 
I remember those rhythms of the beats we sang every day,
I remember walking, running, climbing, jumping, and talking my way to school. 
I remember catching snowflakes in my mouth in the school yard, 
I remember Ms. Gitter singing "Don't rain on my parade" and "Getting to know you",
I remember Mr. Bass turning out the lights, pulling the blinds down, and reading "Sleepy Hallow,"
I am sure I learn a millions things, but it's the play that taught me:
To Share,
To take turns,
To say excuse me,
To listen to everyone,
To help others,
To respect everyone.
It's the play people. It's the play that teaches us what we need most. I have a Ph.D. in Reading, Language, and Culture, and in my professional opinion nothing is as important to learning than play.
Dear Next President, it's the play not the testing that grows the mind.
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you like to know what song I was listening to on my walk this morning....its Whitney Houston's "The Greatest Love Of All"

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Secretary King, I am tired of Justice Is Coming Someday

United States Secretary of Education came to Trinity Magnet School in Hartford Connecticut today. He came to say Hartford's network of magnet schools in Connecticut can serve as a model for achieving the kind of diversity that is lacking in too many American schools, Funny how his visit came while schools were on summer break. If he just waited another two weeks....Well you can read all about it in this link.

My response to Secretary King's Visit. 

Dear Secretary of Education John King, I heard you visited one of our Hartford Connecticut Magnet Schools this week. It must be nice to cherry pick your visits. I noticed you failed to stop by Governor Malloy's office to suggest Connecticut cease fighting Connecticut's obligation to fully fund our poor schools. Well, you don't want to rock that Equity Someday Boat. Of course as always equity is never on the agenda.

This trip was about that desegregation is coming someday train. Magnets and Charters are coming to save some children of color. Hold on children, the United States Department of Education doesn't do all children. Some works nicely in twenty-first century America. Secretary King, Magnet Schools like Charter Schools always leave a majority of Black and Brown children racially isolated. That segregation someday train also seems to end in inequity for the majority of children of color left behind in their local public schools.

My thinking is you Washington DC policy makers, and our nation's legislators could use a little history lesson. The 1954 Brown Vs the Board of Education decision did not say compromise your way to desegregation. So three years later when Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus call out the national guard to stop the Little Rock Nine from integrating their public schools. President Dwight D. Eisenhower's (1957) signed Executive Order 10730 placing the Arkansas National Guard under his control to ensure the safety of the Little Rock Nine, and ordered they protect the Little Rock Nine. Perhaps somehow in the twisted minds of Ed Reformer revisionist history you think Executive Order 10730 was President Eisenhower's way of saying Governor Orval Faubus take your time desegregating those "Little Rock" Public schools. I bet Governor Faubus would love today's Ed Reform no rush we'll get there someday people. It is so much more civil than Eisenhower's Federal Marshals and National Guard troops on your school house steps.

America, we'll start with a few Magnet and Charter School plans. After all we have only been at it for 10, 20, 30 years. Hold on children be patient change is coming. Just not today. Meanwhile, no one at the United States Department of Education appears to mind 49 states spending more money on their wealthy schools than their poor schools.

Mr Secretary, Black and Brown children don't need desegregation someday. They need it today. Just like poor children of all colors don't need equity someday. They need it today.
I have a word for desegregation and equity today. It's call JUSTICE.
Not buying your desegregation someday compromises,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you want to listen to the song this Walking Man is listening's Playing for Change singing that old Sam Cook song A Change Is Gonna Come"

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Live the life you sing about in your heart

I've heard some say the world has gone mad, it's unfair, it's unjust, and it's cruel. There isn't anything we can do to change it. The wealthy, the powerful, and connected have rigged the game. Goodness has been silenced. But, then what do I do with this song of change in my heart? Victor Hugo wrote in Les Misérables: “Not being heard is no reason for silence.”

Trust me the only chains on a better world is our silence and apathy.
I say, stand up, shout, march, and live that song in your heart.
Momma loved Mahalia Jackson. Mahalia was her church.
Hush everyone, Mahalia is on....Church came in songs with Momma.

" I'm gonna live the life
I sing about in my song
I'm gonna stand for right and
I always shun the wrong
If I'm in the crowd,
If I'm alone,
On the streets,
Or in my home...

I'm gonna live the life,
I sing about in my song"

Trump Hate is showcased everyday on TV,
Muslim, hispanic immigrants, and Americans of Color bullied everyday on Fox TV,
Unarmed Black boys and girls die everyday without out even a I'm Sorry,
Mayors, Governors, and legislative puppets cut school budgets, and close public schools, and give billions to the Hedge Fund boys to open new Private Charter Schools no one wants,
Leaders saying the bank is broke,
Go away you throw away mill workers, steel workers, and blue collar boys and girls,
No more art, music or play for poor boys and girls,
We ain't got a dime,
Can I get another Amen for Tax Cuts for the rich,

Maybe you can stay silent, but me I'm living the life I sing about as loud as I can.
Still singing that justice song I hear in my heart,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you like to listen to the song I'm singing on my walk to today. Its...That version of Momma's favorite Mihalia song "I gonna live the life I sing about by The Last Internationals.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Justice requires action. Action requires marching.

Robert F. Kennedy said about the pursuit of justice: "The problem of power is how to achieve its responsible use rather than its irresponsible and indulgent use-of how to get men of power to live for the Public rather than off the public."  
I'm sitting here today wondering what Senator Kennedy would say about an education reform movement that lives off the public seeking to privatize our nation's public schools?  My thinking is, if Senator Robert F. Kennedy were alive last month, he would have joined the marchers at the Save Our Schools March for Public Education and Social Justice; just like he supported Cesar Chavez and the migrant farm workers in their struggle against the growers in California.  Justice requires Action. He would have marched with us, because we were marching for Public Education and Social Justice.  What matters about marching for Public Education and Social Justice, is that we still need to march; and are you still marching?  This struggle is so much more than one simple march.

Justice requires Action.  
Diane Ravitch has become one of our most vocal outspoken opponents of high-stakes testing, national standards and a national curriculum, (CCSS), and inequity in our public schools. Some out there complain that Ravitch was not marching in 2000. Who cares? She marched in 2011; and then again in 2016.  I salute her willingness to grow and learn.  She is the only policy maker I know to admit she was wrong.  And more importantly, with her admission she decided to take up the cause of what is Right. Very few education reformers, policy makers, researchers, and politicians have the guts to do what she has done.  To change. To fight harder than ever for that change.
I applaud Diane Ravitch for refusing to stay with the pack.
I applaud her for stopping for just a moment, standing up, realizing she was wrong, and then using her voice in support us.
I salute Diane Ravitch for marching in 2011 and again in 2016.
I salute her for being the only education historian committed to telling the truth, even if it means admitting she was wrong initially.
I salute her for standing against the powerful elite, and choosing instead what's right for children, parents, and teachers.
WHEN you started marching matters less than "Are you marching today?"

In Diane Ravitch's new edition of The Death and Life of the Great American School System (2016) she writes:
"The original version of this book I criticized testing and choice, but continued my long-standing advocacy for national standards and a common national curriculum.  I thought that if every child experienced the same engaging curriculum, then every one of them would have a great education. Wrong again. I have come to realize that "high standards" and "rigorous testing" do not promote equity; instead, they produce high rates of failure for many students and widen the gap between those at the bottom and those at the top. Inevitably, those who fail to jump over an unrealistically high bar will be the children who need extra help and resources; they will be disproportionately impoverished children of color, children with handicaps, and English-language learners ... Standards on their own do not address the root causes of poor academic performance, which are generational poverty, racial segregation, and inequitable resources" (prologue xxiii-xxiv).

Justice Requires Action.  Action requires work. 
The old bible parable Matthew 20:1-16: The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, where the workers in the field are paid to pick grapes for the land owner who sees a storm coming.  He needs his all his grapes picked today.  He offers one wage.  Some workers begin early in the morning; some don't start till noon.  By late afternoon he sees the need for more workers; they don't start working till near the end of the day.  Once the task was complete, some workers complain "it's unfair" The land owner reminds them that they accepted the wage that was offered to them; he had done no wrong... In my mind, it's the very same with our struggle for public education and social justice today. There is only one wage "Justice in our public schools for all".  

Justice Requires Action. Action requires marching.
In 2010 when Save Our Schools was planning our march against NCLB/RTTT, Rita Slonet from Parents Across America contacted me to inform me that Ravitch would be speaking at Yale about her book "The Life and Death of the Great American School System" and suggested I attend.  I went to the event accompanied by my wife a Hartford Public School teacher. After the event I had the opportunity to speak with Diane, and I asked her if she could possibly come to DC to speak at our rally and march ~ even though we didn't have a dime to pay her.  She knew of me, "Jesse Turner, the guy who just walked from Connecticut to DC right?"  Yup ~ that guy. She said she would think about it...  Carolyn and I started walking towards our car. Well, at least I had asked her...  Before I started the car, Rita was calling me to confirm that indeed yes, Diane would come to speak at The Save Our Schools Conference, Rally and March in July 2011.

To the rumblers ~ Justice Requires Action. Action requires marchers. It doesn't matter when you started marching for justice in our public schools. What matters is, are you ready to march now?  

In 2016 Save Our Schools March gathered a coalition for public education and social justice for another march on DC. Dr. Ravitch had released her 2nd edition book; we invited her to speak with us again. She did.  

Who marched in DC for Equity and Justice in Public Education and Social Justice on July 8, 2016?

Diane Ravitch: Marched,
Jonathan Kozol: Marched,
Rev Dr. William Barber: Marched,
Bronx Principal Jamaal Bowman: Marched,
Dr. Denisha Jones: Marched,
Ruth Rodriquez: Marched,
Bishop Selders: Marched,
Youth Dreamers: one the bus,
Newark Students Union: Marched,
Jesse Hagopian: Marched,
Gus Morales: Marched
Brett Bigham: Marched
United Opt Out: Marched
Dr.  Julian Vasquez Heilig: Marched
Dr. Yohuru Williams: Marched
Lisa Rudley: Marched
Jitu Brown: Marched
Dyett Hunger Strikers: Marched
Tanaisa Brown: Marched,
Barbara Madeloni: Marched
Sam Anderson: Marched
Mike Klonsky: Marched
Michelle Gunderson: Marched
Jeremy Dudley: Marched
Barry Lane: Marched
Family von BATs: Marched
The BAT Band: Marched
Terry Moore: Marched
DC Labor Chorus: Marched
Detroit Federation of Teachers: Marched
Washington Teachers Union (DC): Marched
Chicago Teachers Union: Marched
SOS March: Marched
UOO: Marched
I marched

Justice requires action. Action requires you.
While "Save Our Schools Coalition" Committee did all the preparations for this March; they helped 1500 other beautiful brave souls march. The 1500 marchers set a new standard for education reform resisters. The only "standard" that matters in our Struggle for justice in America's Public Schools in 2016 is "Are you marching for Public Education and Social justice?"

Tell me you fight by writing letters to editors,
Tell me you fight by blogging,
Tell me you testify at local and state board of education meetings,
Tell me you fight by lobbying legislators,
Tell me you fight on social media,
We need all of these fights.
But in 2016, and beyond

What we need most is Fighters Willing to March.
You don't need to go to DC to march.
Marchers are needed in America's local communities,
In America's towns,
In America's cities.
In our state capitals.
We need marchers outside the offices of America's Mayors, Governors, and Legislators.
We need marchers with big signs "Ready To Vote You Out"
We need marchers singing.
"People Get Ready,
There's a train a coming
You don't need no ticket,
All you need is to get on board"
Get on this marching train.
Still marching,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

 If you like to listen to what song this walking man was listening to on his walk today....its "People Get Ready" by Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions