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Friday, September 23, 2016

These roots

There can be no peace without justice.
These roots of economic injustice in America run deep. 
These roots of racism run deep.
These roots of waging war on the poor run deep.
These roots of waging war on labor run deep.
These roots of murdering the just run deep.

They run through a thousand wars on Native Americans. 
They run through the Cherokee people on that "Trail of Tears". 
They run through Navajo people on that "Long Walk". 
They run through Wounded Knee one and two.
They run through the Standing Rock Reservation today. 

They run through every Black soul stolen from Africa's shores. 
They run through a million Black souls lost in that Middle Passage.
They run through that immoral clause a Black slave is 3/5 of a human being in our constitution. 
They run through every slave sale, every lash, every rape, and every murder of Africa's stolen souls. 
They run through Jim Crow.
They run through the lynching of 4,743 innocent Black American souls from 1882-1968. 
They run through Martin Luther King, Harry and Harriette Moore, Fred Hampton, Medgar Evers, Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney. 
They still run deep today through Black Lives Matter.

They run through every law created to weaken labor. 
They run through the 11 lives taken by 300 Pinkerton Guards at the Homestead Steel Works.
They run through the 145 dead women locked in to burn at the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.
They run through every Fast Food worker, Child Care worker, Health Care worker, and every worker fighting for 15 today.
They run through every occupier that stood at the gates of Wall Street.
They run through every Coal Miner, Steel Worker, Mill Worker, and every American whose job was sold out by the Wealthy, the Powerful, and the Connected.  

They run through a hundred million immigrant souls seeking justice in an America that sees cheap labor not human beings.   
They run through those "English Only" education policies.
They run though that Oriental Exclusion Act. 
They run through those that stand against the ones wanting walls around America.
They run through the soul of Cesar Chavez, and every farm worker who ever picked a grape.

They run through the Just that stood at Stonewall. 
They run through every LGBT soul saying I am here, I am proud, and all I want is the same rights as every other American.
They run through Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells, and every Suffragette who march for the vote, marched for justice, and stood for not only women, but children, and men.
They run through every Black Mother, whose unarmed child is killed by the police today.
They run through every mother, whose child suffering from addiction is told there are no beds in our treatment centers.
They run through every war veteran who has to fight for health care.
They run through every mother who can't pay for the medicine that can save their child.
They Run through the 49 states that spend more money on their wealthy schools than their poor schools.
They run through the Homeless, the Hungry, the Innocent jailed, and they run through me. 

I could go on, but these roots are too many for any one pen. 
Tonight I march with my Moral Monday and Black Lives Matter brothers and sisters in Hartford Connecticut.

I march, because while these roots of injustice run deep.
These roots of justice run deeper. 
I march, because I am empowered by living legacies of "justice denied shall not go unchallenged". 
These justice roots move me to march.  
I march tonight, because justice MATTERS.
These roots of justice compel me to march.
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you like to listen to what this walking man was listening to on his walk this morning its...Marvis Staples " Eyes on the prize" > <

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Called to teach

I often hear many of my teacher friends saying they wouldn't recommend a teaching career to young people today. I respond the hurdles are many and higher than ever before. The policy mandates are demoralizing many learners and teachers. It's a tough path this road to teaching.

I do discourage anyone who tells me they want to teach so they can home at 3:00. No one goes home at 3:00. I discourage those who say I want to teach to have summers off. I say summers without pay you mean. No one is paid for taking summers off.

I do encourage those whose hearts are big, who long to serve, and want to change the world. I invite these to come sit and talk with me. I explain this is not my career, this is not my profession, this is my calling. A calling rooted in service to others. A calling that often leaves me exhausted. However a calling that always, always fills my heart.
If teaching calls you to serve, then embrace it, and run to it. Climb any mountain, swim every river, and jump every hurdle to in front of you. I do promise you tired feet, restless nights, but a full heart to carry you to the end of your days.
Blessed by this call to teach,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

With Barry Lane eating some pizza 

If you like to listen to the song this walking man listened to on his walk this morning...its..Barry Lane's "Miss Folley"

Monday, September 19, 2016

We are the data

I don't need data from a standardized test to tell me she is a reader. 
Finishing her first chapter book gives me the data I need.
I don't need to post her scores on some data wall in the hall.
I give her a plastic gold medal. 
I bow down to her reading powers. 
Trust me, 20-years from now she won't remember one single test score.
She'll remember that silly plastic gold medal, and that crazy professor who gave it to her for finishing her first chapter book.
She’ll remember that he praised her super reading powers, and bowed down to her greatness.
Celebrate reading successes.
Celebrate reading break through moments.
Children are not your data.
They are the future worth nurturing.
Our children are more than test scores.

Talk to teachers!
I posted the above picture and text on the Badass Teacher's Facebook page. I have been trying to capture what teachers really do. It doesn't fit any numerical data format. It's bigger than any quantitative measure these Ed Reformers are searching for.
Listen to the teachers.
Jeff, a teacher on the BAT page commented on the above: "Part of what inspired me to become a teacher was believing that we need more teachers like this, and deciding that I was willing to commit to becoming one of them."  In two lines Jeff captured what draws us to teaching. Teaching is more than a profession. I would argue teaching is a vocation that calls us to teach. We are drawn to an inner call to bring humanity to that school house. We have content, but content without humanity merely dehumanizes public education. We can learn a great deal from teachers like Jeff. There are millions of teachers out there, and they have been waiting for policy makers, legislators, and Ed Reformers to really "listen". Here is my response to Jeff, and every teacher out in our public schools. 
There is the data that counts, and then there is the data that really counts. The data that really informs. 
At the BAT March On Washington in 2015 I asked "Where is the humanity in Education Reform"? "Where is the humanity in their data"?
Since then I have been searching for our humanity, and I have found it. I found it not in our education policies, but in our teachers. The research is clear, teachers make the difference. You can't find the humanity in test scores, in graduation rates, or any other set of quantitative numbers. You have to see it; feel it; and observe it.  You can't see humanity on their data walls.  But it's there. It's there when you talk to teachers, their colleagues, the children, and the parents. This is why Value Added Measures, (VAM) have been such a dismal failure. Rubrics and numbers alone can never evaluate teaching.
What are we missing?
The study of history can inform our understanding of teaching. Can anyone imagine studying the Holocaust using only statistics? Where would we be without Ellie Wiesel's Night? What could we learn without the narratives of the survivors? In Night we come to see the horror, we feel the courage, we grasp the strength of a people who witness, who remember, who live, and who testify. Wiesel's shared that first human voice he remembers at Auschwitz.
“There's a long road of suffering ahead of you. But don't lose courage. You've already escaped the gravest danger:  So now, muster your strength, and don't lose heart. We shall all see the day of liberation. Have faith in life. Above all else, have faith. Drive out despair, and you will keep death away from yourselves. Hell is not for eternity. And now, a prayer - or rather, a piece of advice: let there be comradeship among you. We are all brothers, and we are all suffering the same fate. The same smoke floats over all our heads. Help one another. It is the only way to survive.”
What are the Ed Reformers missing? They're collecting test score data, but are dismissing the human voices! 

The numbers are killing us!
While these Ed Reformers are not killing teachers, they are demoralizing us, shaming us, and trying to silence us. By doing this to teachers these reforms in essence are dehumanizing our children. A teachers first primary responsibility is to advocate for their students? When you silence teachers you prevent them from their primary responsibility to advocate for children. When you prevent teachers from advocating for children you end up with a "School To Prison Pipeline". Research is clear when you over emphasize high stakes testing, behavior issues and schools suspensions will rise. It is no surprise Ed Reformers are turning to "No Excuses" tough love models and closing down local schools. They don't see children. They are fixed on the numbers. That's the data that matters to them. The real data, the data that really matters is us, teachers, children and parents; our stories are the data. When your public school system doesn't listen to children, parents and teachers, your public schools become our "School To Prison Pipeline".  
Where do we find the data that matters Dr. Turner? 
It's everywhere in our schools. Talk to our children, their parents and teachers. The data that really matter breathes, talks, walks, and sometimes bleeds. The data that really matters under NCLB, RTTT and yes ESSA is not valued by politicians, policy makers, and Ed Reformers. But the data that really matters is everywhere.  Social media is helping to collect the only data that really matters.
Over a hundred years of education research points to one truth. Teachers make a difference. You won't find the humanity or the data that matters most in quantitative data. The humanity resides in the qualitative data. Numbers alone give us a cold picture. Teachers bring humanity to the classroom, and it's the humanity that will give us the answers, the answers that have the power to transform teaching. See the child, not the score. When we see the child. We see the teacher. When we see them both we see the humanity. When we see the humanity. We see what works and what is not working. When we starting listening to children and teachers? We'll find the beginning place for transformational teaching and learning.  
We are the humanity.
We are the data, 
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you like to hear what this Walking Man was listening to on his walk this morning...
The Omagh Community Youth Choir Love Rescue Me

Friday, September 16, 2016

Who decides

Who decides?

I hear some educational activists want to be the deciders?
Who is authentic?
Who is a sell out?
Who is weak?
Who is pure?
Who is a real activist?

Who decides?
Who decides if you are an education activist?
Who decides if you can join the rallies against NCLB, RTTT, or ESSA?
Who decides if you can make your own sign for the cause?
Who decides if you can march?

Who decides?
I know something about activists.
I have been an activist since I was eight years old.
My first march was August 28, 1963.
I was the tag along company for my grandfather who decided he needed to be part of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
At eight years old I had no idea I was an activist, but activist I became.
The only thing about the March on Washington I really knew was,

No one from the union hall would go with him.
No one from our church would go with him.
No one from his VFW would go with him.
I knew my grandmother was afraid to go.
My mother was afraid to go.
I knew they both loved Dr. King.
But, they read the newspapers,
They watched the news, and everywhere Black people marched back in 60’s they were met with hatred and brutality.
My mother loved justice, but she was afraid.
For weeks my grandfather asked friends and everyone he knew to go to DC,
He said I’ll drive,
I’ll pay for the gas,
I’ll buy lunch,
But no one would go.
My grandmother and mother prayed no one would go.
Why, because they loved him, and were afraid something would happen, and he would be hurt.
Finally he stopped asking people.
My grandmother hoped he would decide not to go.
He was going?
He fought in World War I, lived through the great depression, believed every American deserved a good job, and everyone had the right to vote.
My grandmother and mother prayed he would change his mind. 

God did not answer their prayers.
They were afraid for their stubborn old man with a love for justice.
God did answer his marching prayers.
On the day before the march he washed his car, changed the oil, checked the tires, and filled up the gas tank. Laid out his best Sunday suit. Asked my grandmother if she could pack some sandwiches and his thermos. He said please in his best please voice.
There was an argument, my grandmother tried to get him to change his mind. He would not.
She called my mother crying.  My mother went over. She took me with her.
They came to accept he was going to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
They were afraid, but proud of their stubborn old man.
They made sandwiches, brought an extra thermos one for the drive down, and one for the drive back. In 1963 he was 68. They calculated the drive time down would take 4 to 5 hours and another 4 to 5 hours on the way back, and figured the march would last at least 6-8 hours.
He would need to leave at 4:30 AM. They figured he would get there around 9:00, stay until 4 or 5, and drive home. They determined he needed coffee for ride down and back. None of this change the fact that they were afraid for him. People today have no idea how brave those 250,000 marchers were in 63.
My mother had brought a bag with pajamas and my only suit to my grandmother’s house. She had decided if the old man is going to Washington he needs company for the ride. She told my grandmother it’s a long ride, he’ll be lonely, and he could get tired. He needs someone to keep him awake.
Little Jess is the perfect person for that. He can’t stop talking. Plus if we send him with the boy he’ll be extra careful not to get into any trouble. If trouble starts he'll take the boy and run.
So I began marching in 63 at the age of 8.
No one asked my grandfather are you for freedom?
No one asked are you for jobs?
No one asked my grandfather why is a White man marching with Black people?
Why did you bring a little boy?

Who decides?
In 1963 no one checked to see if people were carrying the approved signs.
No one checked what political party people were in.
No one checked to see if you were a Christian, Jew or Muslim.
No one checked to see if you were new to marching?
No one checked who you were working for?
Everyone was measured by his or her willingness to march.

Who decides?
I marched in Washington, Arizona, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland,  and Selma Alabama.
I stopped counting how many times I have marched for jobs, peace, health care, justice, and for the past year I have added marching for Black Lives Matter and Moral Mondays.
When you march no one ever checks your commitment.
All that matters at any march is your willingness to march.
All marchers are always welcomed.

Who decides?
I hear some activists are calling Anthony Cody a traitor,
I hear some are calling Diane Ravitch a shill,
I hear some activists are calling BATs fronts for the unions,
I hear some activists are calling SOSers zombies,
I hear some activists are calling the new Opt Out Leaders pawns for unions.
I hear some activists are calling for purity.
Who decides purity?

Who decides history?
In 2011 after 8 years of No Child Left Behind a group of activists formed SOS. We decided to hold a rally, a conference, and a march in Washington DC against high-stakes testing and NCLB.
Everyone thought we didn’t have a hope and a pray to pull it off.
We didn’t care. We just knew we could not be silent any longer.
We did not have a dime.
We did not have one big name to speak.
Rita Solnet from Parents Across American suggested I drive to New Haven Connecticut to where Diane Ravitch was speaking. Rita said ask Dr, Ravitch if she’ll come to our rally and march.
Would she be willing to speak to the marchers?
So I drove to New Haven to hear Diane Ravitch, and to ask her.
I stopped her as she was leaving, and asked her if she would be one of our speakers. She said, you’re Jesse Turner the walking guy. She said let me think about it. She would need to check her schedule for July.  She said I’ will have to get back to you. She took my phone number.
I walked back to my car with my wife, and asked what do you think? She said I don’t know. Before I opened the car door my cell phone rang.  I am going to DC Walking Man. She went on her own dime, and contributed 10,000 dollars to the march. She has blogged and fought back against Ed Reformers, and came again in 2016.

Who decides who is an authentic activist?
Not me, I count who shows up.
A few names of who showed up in 2011.
Names like
Diane Ravitch,
Jonathon Kozol,
Nancy Carlsoson-Paige,
Anthony Cody,
Ken Bernstien,
Nancy Flanagan,
Rita Slonet,
Bess Altwerger,
Rick Meyer,
Ruth Rodriquez,
Ceresta Smith,
Bob George,
Morna McDemott,
Tim Slekar
Mark Naison,
Jose Vilson,
Mike Knonsky, 
Deborah Meier,
Matt Damon,
Forgive me, I am sure I am missing some important names,
And of course 8000 marchers showed,

Who decides?
Which unions are worthy?
In 2011 unions endorsing, supporting, and sending marchers
The American Federation of Teachers
AFSCME Retired Public Employees Council, Chapter 23 (Port Angeles, WA)
Albuquerque Teachers’ Federation (Albuquerque, NM – AFT)
Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 587 (Seattle, WA)
The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA)
Baltimore Teachers Union (Baltimore, MD – AFT)
Bedford Teachers’ Association (Bedford, NY – AFT)
Broward Teachers Union (Broward County, FL – AFT/NEA)
Boston Teachers Union (Boston, MA – AFT)
California School Employees Association
Cambridge College Employees Federation (Cambridge, MA – AFT)
Chicago Teachers Union (Chicago, IL – AFT)
Classroom Teachers Association of Palm Beach (Palm Beach County, FL – NEA)
Cleveland Heights Teachers Union (Cleveland Heights, OH – AFT)
Coalition of University Employees-International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 2010- UC Berkeley Chapter (Berkeley, CA)
Collie County Education Association (Marco Island, FL – NEA)
Education Austin (Austin, TX – AFT/NEA)
Forest Grove Education Association (Forest Grove, OR – NEA)
Highlands County Education Association (Sebring, FL – AFT/NEA)
Professional and Technical Employees Local 17 (Seattle, WA)
Kansas City Federation of Teachers (Kansas City, MO – AFT)
National Education Association – Retired
Newark Teachers Union (Newark, NJ – AFT)
Oakland Education Association (Oakland, CA – NEA)
Prince George’s County Educators’ Association (Prince George’s County, MD – NEA)
Ramapo Teachers Association (Suffern, NY – AFT/NEA)
Renton Education Association (Renton, WA – NEA)
Retired Public Employees Council, Chapter 3 (Seattle, WA – AFSCME)
Roseville Federation of Teachers (Roseville, Michigan – AFT)
St. Paul Federation of Teachers, Local 28 (St. Paul, MN – AFT)
San Francisco Community College District Federation of Teachers (San Francisco, CA – AFT)
Savannah Federation of Teachers (Savannah, GA – AFT)
Seattle Education Association (Seattle, WA – NEA)
Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County (Anne Arundel County, MD – NEA)
United Teachers of Dade (Dade County, FL – AFT/NEA)
United Teachers Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA – AFT/NEA)
University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE-CWA) 9119, Local 1, Berkeley, CA
We never asked if people were union shills,
Like the 1963 March for Jobs and Freedom we welcomed all.

Who decides?
Who decides when a march is a success?
Who counts the members of a movement?
Who decides the purity of an activist?

Who decides if SOS is pure?
Who decides if United Opt Out is pure?
Who decides if BATs are pure?
Who decides if NPE is pure?
Who decides who is part of a movement, and who is not?

A word about movements.
President Lincoln said: “The path was worn and slippery. My foot slipped from under me, knocking the other out of the way, but I recovered and said to myself, 'It's a slip and not a fall.”
This anti education reform movement has grown.
Had some shake ups,
Some break ups,
Had a few slips,
But, no falls.
Most of us have been fighting for child centered classrooms our whole professional lives,
We fight for children with special needs,
We fight for English Language Learners,
We fight for Black, Brown, and Poor children,
We fight for equity and justice in our public schools,
We fight for parents.
We fight for teachers.
We fight for local public schools.
We fight for culturally relevant curriculums.
We fight for undocumented children and parents.
We educate all.
We welcome all.

We don’t decide.
We don’t want deciders.
We want marchers.
We don’t need purists.
We want a coalition of the willing.

We don’t check credentials.
We don’t test you.
We say glad you are here today.
We don’t want name callers.
We don’t want distractors.
We want allies, marchers, and people willing to stand together for our children, our teachers, and our public schools

If you want to judge activists then you can’t build unity.
If you want to be the decider look in the mirror.
I want marchers not deciders?
If the mission of you deciders is to break up our Save Our Schools March for Public Education and Social Justice coalition?
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you want to listen to the song I listened to on my walk this morning its...Pete Seeger's version of "Which Side Are You On" > <