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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Another meaningless ranking falling short of jusitce

Above is a link to a Wall Street Journal 24/7 article discussing the 2017 Quality Counts Report from Ed Week.

Coretta Scott King said: "Poverty can produce a most deadly kind of violence. In this society violence against poor people and minority groups is routine. I remind you that starving a child is violence; suppressing a culture is violence; neglecting schoolchildren is violence; discrimination against a working man is violence; ghetto house is violence; ignoring medical needs is violence; contempt for equality is violence; even a lack of will power to help humanity is a sick and sinister form of violence."

These rankings always focus on quantitative observable and measurable outcomes, and almost always pass over the research showing "out of school factors" such as how "poverty" impacts public education.  They seldom address what Coretta called society's violence against poor people. They view poverty as some intangible outcome, some mythical possibility, something out there that needs mentioning, but too big to ever address directly.  They mention it, and run from it. They retreat to rankings as if they prove some form of objective American innocence. America we may wash our hands in objective rankings, but this blood of generations of ignored poverty will not wash off.  
Dr. Paul Thomas in his reply to rankings rightly reminds us about those out of school factors: "that 60-80+% of those measurable outcomes; and thus, outcome-based data of educational quality are more likely a reflection of social conditions than school-based quality. "

When this 24/7 Wall Street article mentions poverty it uses the words "MAY NOT". "By contrast, “children living in low-income areas [may not] have the resources to help them get off to a good start.”
What is this "MAY NOT," but another cover up.  

My Momma, taught me sometimes a man has to jump up and testify. Allow me to jump us and testify on this "May Not" bull.
Having been a child who experienced poverty, hunger, and even homelessness, let me set the record straight:
No one learns in school on a hungry stomach,
No one pays attention when there is no heat at home,
No one learns when the electricity has been cut off at home,
No one learns when you have no home to go to after school,
No one learns without the medicine they need to heal and live.
Only Bureaucrats, Policy Makers, Politicians, Billionaires, and those who have never known poverty use the words "May NOT".
A truth to power from the Walking Man nothing destroys learning like poverty.

If America truly wants to lift our poorest public schools? America needs to lift our poorest communities.
Good Jobs matter,
Full stomachs matter,
A living wage matters,
Health care for all matters,
Affordable housing matters,
Quality Early Childhood Education Matters,
Sick leave matters,
Facing up to institutional racism matters,
Ending the School to Prison Pipeline matters,
A pathway to citizenship matters,
Pensions matter,
Unions matter,
Libraries matter,
Hospitals matter,
Free Mental Health Care matters,
Real Super markets and affordable public transportation matters.

What doesn't matter is America's rankings,
What doesn't matter is more tax breaks for billionaires. 
What never mattered is 40 years of trickle down economics that never made it to our poorest cities and rural communities.
What would matter? Is ending this constant failure of our 50 states to make the eradication of poverty their number one priority.

Poverty always matters,
Any nation that does not do all it can do to end poverty is committing a crime against their most vulnerable citizens.
The world's richest nation cannot claim to hold any moral mantle of justice, when it has failed to lift the poor for generations.
It is simple America, our greatest sin has always been our failure to lift up our most needy children, parents, and families.
Our greatest threat is not on our borders, but our indifference to our poorest brothers and sisters growing in our own hearts. 
Our silence and apathy is our greatest sin,
Jesse The Walking Turner

If you like to listen to the song inspiring my walk this morning its Phil Collins "Another Day In Paradise"

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Dear Mr. President, American History begins with a deep study of the people's struggle

Dear Mr. President, it seems that you now believe the press is the enemy, and you need to block them? Clearly your history teachers missed the mark in your education.


Mr. President, America has heroes I fear you have never studied. Heroes like Cesar Chavez, an American labor leader who honorably served his nation in the United States Navy, and as civil rights activist. With Dolores Huerta, he co-founded the National Farm Workers Association. He is just one of America's heroes I fear you failed to study. Cesar inspired the hopeless. He lifted the hopeless. He inspired the hopeless to look up, to get off their knees, and to rise up. He inspired them to understand that democracy begins with a love of action. Like many others he inspired a hope of action. You might call him a people's hero.

My hope is that you start to look outside your CEO Box,
I hope you can look beyond billionaire views of the world.
Beyond power as might,
Beyond power as winning,
Understand Justice as right.

My hope is you can begin a deep study of:
A Manifest Destiny of pain, lies, and 500 years of suffering,
Inhuman cruelty Slavery,
American Immigration,
The Women's Suffrage Movement",
The American Labor Movement,
Jim Crow,
The Civil Rights Movement",
Voting Rights, the endless struggle for the ballot.
A study beyond the history of "Privilege".
A study of heroes beyond presidents, generals, robber barons, and rooted in sincere deep self-reflections.

I suggest you begin with a study of Howard Zinn.
Zinn said: "I can understand pessimism, but I don’t believe in it. It’s not simply a matter of faith, but of historical evidence. Not overwhelming evidence, just enough to give hope, because for hope we don’t need certainty, only possibility. Which (despite all those confident statements that “history shows …” and “history proves …”) is all history can offer us." It is time for you to study the possibilities of the hopes that history offers the people.

Dear Mr. President, it is not about you,
It is not about any individual,
It is not about me,
It is not about conservatives or liberals,
It is bigger than any political party,
It is bigger than winning, or losing,
It is about keeping hope in the people’s hearts.
It's about us, not some of us, but all of us.

It is about the "First Amendment" and the role of a free press,
It is about a people's imperfect aspirations,
A people willing to be self-critical,
A people yearning to be free,
A people yearning for justice, 

A people understanding they have always falling far from that moral arch of justice.
But, always strive for justice for all.
A people who understand that justice for some is our sin.
A people who understand that justice and liberty for all is our only salvation. 

Anything short is our national sin.

Mr. President, it is not about winning,
It is not about being the richest nation,
The most powerful nation,
Or the nation that strikes fear in all other nations.

On the contrary, it is about being the nation honoring and striving for that perfect dream.
A nation inspired by an aspiration written not in our Constitution, but our Declaration of Independence: 

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Mr. President, it is not about fear,
Fear cannot take us there,
It is about hope,
The hope you have thus far failed to deliver.  

The people. should be ask why,
Freedom of Speech,
Freedom of Religion,
The Right to Assemble Peacefully,
And a Free Press,
Came first?

Harry Truman said: “Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.”

Mr. President,
Our voices are meant for rising,

Our feet are meant for marching.
The Fools of Oppression have forgotten we are a people with a history of heroes whose foot prints were large.
Foot prints that left behind a love of democracy as action.

Mr. President, 
We reject your bullying of the press,
We reject your finger pointing,
We reject your leaks for Hilary were fine, but for me are treason,
We reject your apathy of the hopelessness.
We reject your the press is the enemy.

It's simple Mr. President,
We the people reject your mantras of fear.
We the people shall not be moved, like a tree by water,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you like to listen to the song that inspireed this Walking Man on his walk today? Its We Shall Not Be Move by Mary Mary


Sunday, February 19, 2017

It's the 48% who stay home that hurts the most

I can't complain about Trump voters, Clinton Voters, Stein voters, Johnson voters, or even the write in voters.
Every voter breaks the silence of hopelessness. I respect those that showed up regardless of who they voted for.

However, I do point my finger at those that were silent on Election day. They above all other have brought us this divided nation.
48% is the silence that empowers politicians to govern poorly, to abuse the elderly, the young, our handicapped, working people, our veterans, the middle class, and our most vulnerable.

48% who ensure that no president can win more than 24-26%,
48% ensure our bitter division,

48% is the number that empowers money, power and corruption,

48% is the number that empowers the 1% to abuse the 99%,
48% is the number that emboldens injustice,
48% is the number that shames freedom,
48% is the silence that torments America,
48% is the sinful painful silence that encourages our tormentors.

Wake up 48%
Get up off your knees 48%
Stand up 48%,
Turn up,
Show up,
Look up,
Your silence and apathy imprisoned change,

48% hear the words of Paul Simon's warning,
"Fools said I, You do not know, silence like a cancer grows,
Hear my words that I might teach you,
Take my arms that I might reach you,
But my words like silent raindrops fell, and echo,
In the wells of silence" 

I call to you the 48% tormentors of silence,
On my knees I am begging
Break the silence,
End the divide,
Save us,
Rise up!

Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you are wondering what song I am listening to as I get ready leave for Ireland for my wife's mother's burial, our dear Betty...its Disturbed powerful version of Paul Simon's  "The Sound of silence"

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

School Choice without equity is INJUSTICE!

"School Choice" policies began with President Bush, continued under President Obama, and now with President Trump. NCLB, RTTT and ESSA continue to empower reforms forcing poor urban and rural public schools to compete against each other for limited resources.

Competition is not equity, but it is a sure fire way to ensure that many of our most vulnerable children receive inadequate public educations. School Choice without equity diverts the blame from our politicians and policy markers to our children, their parents, teachers, and local public schools. It is the perfect inequity smoke and mirrors cover for failing our moral responsibility to bring justice and equity to our public schools.

Five United States Secretaries of Education Page, Spelling, Duncan, King, and now DeVos advocate policies of high-stakes testing, public school privatization, ever increasing narrowing reading, writing, and math curricula  for the poor, and standards without equity. Education reforms that have already spent over 1 trillion dollars on failed policies for the past 15-years. Education reforms that  have not only failed to bring equity in our public schools. Education reforms that have left Black, Brown and Poor children in the most segregated schools since "Brown v the Board of Education 1954 Supreme Court decision.  We hear the word acountablity often from "School Choice" advocates.
Has any of them been held accountable for their failures?
What is their plan for the next 15-years?
More of the same!
What is this Walking Man plan?
To Rise Up!

If you like to listen to the song inspiring this Walking Man on his walk this morning...its Andra Day's Live Acoustic version of "Rise UP"

Singing with every step I take:
You're broken down and tired
Of living life on a merry go round
And you can't find the fighter
But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out
And move mountains
We gonna walk it out
And move mountains
And I'll rise up
I'll rise like the day
I'll rise up
I'll rise unafraid
I'll rise up
And I'll do it a thousand times again
And I'll rise up
High like the waves
I'll rise up
In spite of the ache
I'll rise up
And I'll do it a thousands times again
For you
For you
For you
For you

Still marching, still rising up for our public schools,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

Wednesday, February 8, 2017



We are going to do this parents, teachers, and students. 

We are the ones America's children have been waiting for. 
We are a "Going The Distance" people.
Let's wear our Pink Hats, 
Come join our rising,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

Monday, February 6, 2017

One Black Teacher's Legacy forever written into my White Heart

She isn't famous, she isn't on the list of famous African Americans, but she is etched in this heart forever.  I am a better man, a better human being, and a better teacher, because my teacher was Mrs. Gloria Boulden Stanfield.

I was blessed to have Mrs. Stansfield. She was Black, and our Honor's English teacher. She taught everyday like everything in the world depended on her teaching, and years later I realize how much it really did. God rest your beautiful soul Mrs Stansfield, thank you, thank you, and thank you. She prepared me against the silence and the apathy of the masses with Langston Hughes's Let America be America again. It's worth returning to the poem, and her Let America Be America lesson during this alternative facts in the White House era.

"Let America Be America Again
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.
(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.
(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.
(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?
I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.

Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.
Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.

O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?
Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine—the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!"

We were young, urban, and of course responded as young people do...It's cool, and kind of like it is written for now Mrs. S, the hook was baited, and she had us on her line. Ah, she never let us off easy, no we did not write a five-paragraph essay, or any persuasive essay. We studied it, we dug into it, we compared and contrasted it to a dozen other poets, and we studied the historical context of slavery, immigration, poverty, racism, and the labor movement. 

I can't imagine any teacher taking the time to do that in this insane time of covering the Common Core. Although something deep in this soul tells me there are teachers still breaking the mold, and honoring our profession by doing just that. Thank you, thank you, thank you mold breakers! You know it's you the crazy ones we love!

Well back to the lesson. It went on well over a week, and we read numerous other poets from all around the world making universal connections. In the end we ended up with something like Langston's poem makes us see what most would rather be kept secret. That dark side of that elusive American dream. An America not so beautiful, not so promising, an America not discussed in the news.

It is as relevant as that old gospel: "Let justice roll down as waters and rightness as an ever flowing stream!" And yes she brought her bible in, and yes she brought Dr. Martin Luther King's I have a dream speech in. She brought it all in, remember she taught like life itself depended on her teaching. We even read Marcus Garvey. I fell in love with Marcus Garvey in her class while she played Bob Marley's "Redemption song for us." She knew the secret that every great teacher knows, she taught us like we were her children, and she passed it on to me.

Oh, I almost forgot I don't remember one single teacher being observed by any administrator in my entire schooling, or any newspaper believing printing our test scores worthy of print. Certainly no one evaluated Mrs Stansfield. Oh, and none of what she taught was on the curriculum. Why this beautiful Black Peal brought it all in, and I am the better for it. Her teaching core wasn't common, it was extraordinary.
Students are blessed not by the teachers who toe the line, but by the ones who break all lines. They certainly won't be blessed by those who toe the Common Core line
Hear's to you Mrs Stansfield with my deepest love and appreciation. It is in your honor that I teach, march with Black Lives Matter, and am a proud member of Moral Monday CT.
You are my teaching heart hero,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you like to listen to the song that started my morning walk today its.... Play For Change's version of "Teach Your Children" . 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Who speaks for the poor, the fallen and the broken?

While my wife went to get us coffee in the Duncan Donuts today at the New Haven train station. I sat on their wooden benches with our suitcase. As I sat down I noticed a young man in his early 20s with tears running down his cheeks. I asked are you alright? He said I am alright sir. I said are you sure? You look like you need some help. 

I reached out my hand, and said my name is Jesse. We shook hands, and he said I'm Joseph. Then he said I am trying to get home, but the conductor said my metro ticket was 4 dollars short. I had to get off the train. I am tire. I don't know anyone around here. I just want to get home. I need to go home. 

At breakfast this morning the cashier just happened to give me 4 dollars change. I gave it to him. He tried to give it back to me, but I said no. He broke down I gave him a small hug. He said are you sure...I said I was only going to buy lottery tickets with it. He said here you can buy your lottery tickets. I said no, besides I'm always 6 numbers away. He smiled...that smile was worth a million dollars. The world was new for a few minutes. Carolyn came back with our coffee, and I ask her if she has a couple of dollars...we gave it to him. It's wasn't much. It won't buy us a ticket into heaven, but it did buy Joseph a cup of coffee,

a donut, and his ticket home. 
There go I, but for the grace of God. 

On the drive home my wife said I hope that young man makes it home. I said I am sure he is already on his way. She said I'm glad you were there for him today. I said, I think he was there for me. He helped me discover my humanity. What if the less fortunate are all there for us? There to help us discover our humanity. 

Howard Thurman author of Jesus and the Disinherited said" “It cannot be denied that too often the weight of the Christian movement has been on the side of the strong and the powerful and against the weak and oppressed—this, despite the gospel.”
The gospel speaks often of the poor and needy. Calling us to give generously to them, and to speak up on their behalf.

Dr. King said: "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." 
Just wondering who speaks for the poor in America? Who is speaking for the fallen? Who speaks for those who can't pay the fare home?
Dear God, see Joseph home safely, and forgive me for not giving more,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner 

If you like to hear the song from my walk this morning it's "Love Rescue Me" sang by The Omagh Community Youth Choir for Play For Change