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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

America does not have an Achievement Gap, it has a Moral Gap

Robert Fulghum the author of "All I Really Needed 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.”

Walking Man why fight these NCLB, RTTT and ESSA education reforms?

Fight because, reforms pushing Charter Schools, Vouchers, the Common Core, and endless Standardized Testing harm our children.
Fight because, for 15 years these reformers have failed our children, parents, teachers, and our most needy public schools.
Fight because, these reformers provide cover for injustice and equity in our public schools.
Fight because, these reformers have turned our children in to data and profits for CEO vulture profiteers.
Fight because, placing emphasis on High-Stakes Testing labels and tracks Black, Brown, Poor, and Special Education children into failure.
Fight because, education reform history and data have always demonstrated new rigorous standards and new high-stakes testing are merely more of the same old failed 100-year-old promises. Promises that have always done more harm than good.
Fight because, they limit imagination.
Fight because, they reduce a child myths, dreams, and hopes to data.
Fight because, their push for endless rigor is killing laughter and love in our public schools.

Walking Man why are you fighting these education reformers?
I have fought against these reformers under three Presidents: Bush, Obama, and now Trump.
I have fought against the education reforms of the five United States Secretaries of Education, Page, Spellings, Duncan, King, and now Betty DeVos?
I fight because their "Achievement Gap Policies" are a moral rejection of that first and foremost fundamental truth to "Do No Harm".
We Americans need to start asking our leaders; why school choice policies without equity have become the core of their education reforms?

Walking Man, how can we recognize harmful education reform?
Any education reform insisting that school resources do not matter?
Harms our children.
Any education reform insisting that class sizes do not matter?
Harms our children.
Any education reform insisting that poverty does not matter?
Harms our children.
Any education reform insisting that classroom resources do not matter?
Harms our children.
Any education reform abandoning and forcing our nation's poorest schools to close; while giving billions and special treatments to private entities to replace those schools with for profit schools.
Harms our children.
Any education reform that supports programs that place new teachers with less training and preparation in our poorest and most needy schools.
Harms our most vulnerable children.
Any education reform that spends hundreds of billions on reform programs to promote higher test scores as the solutions to childhood trauma, inequity, poverty, and the "School to Prison Pipeline".
Harms our children.
Any education reform that fails to powerfully support Music, Art, and Physical Education for all in our public schools.
Harms our children.
Any education reform that blames children, parents, teachers, and local public schools as the problem.
Harms our children.
Any education reform that fails to stalwartly support our nation's public school "First Responders", Parents, School Nurses, School librarians, Counselors, Special Educators, Literacy Specialists, Classroom Teachers, Music and Art Teachers, Para-Professionals, Custodians, Principals and Vice Principles.
Harms our children.
Any education reform that tracks and labels children.
Harms our children.

Walking Man isn't this a political fight?
This struggle isn't Red States vs Blue States.
This isn't urban vs rural communities.
This isn't wealthy vs poor schools.
This is not a political fight.
It is the MORAL fight of our lifetime.
Anyone Fighting to uphold that first and foremost fundamental truth "Do No Harm" in our public schools is engaged in a Moral fight.
America does not have an Achievement Gap.
America has a Moral Gap.

Are there education reforms we should fight for?
We should fight for education reforms that demand equity and justice for all children.
We should fight for reforms that demand art for all.
We should fight for reforms that demand music for all.
We should fight for reforms that demand physical education for all children every day.
We should fight for reforms that demand we reduce class sizes.
We should fight for reforms that demand special education services for every child in need.
We should fight for reforms that demand more Librarians, Media specialists, Literacy Specialists, Counselors, Math Tutors, and School nurses.
We should fight for reforms that demand that all schools be modern, clean and safe.
We should fight for reforms that demand wrap around services in poor public schools.
We should fight for reforms that demand summer education and recreational programs for all children.

Walking Man, have an idea Walking Man in mind?
Let us all walk out.
Let us all Walk Out, Walk back in, and hold an all day Teach-in?
Imagine every parent, every student, and every educator walking out, then walking back in, and then skipping those old lessons, and holding a Teach-in Day across America in 2017.

What would such a Walk Out/Teach-in look like Walking Man?
First it means, no one stays home, no one abandons our public schools, or fails to educate our students. It would be a symbolic walk out, a walk right back in to teach about our nation's long struggle for equity and justice in our public schools. This walk out/teach-in requires parent organizations and community grass roots activist groups be deeply involved in the planning of all walk out, and the teach in events. To be not just supporters, but active participants from start to end.
We should "Walk Out" again at the last school bell sounds, and go rally for education reform that respects children, teachers. and our public schools at our state capitols.
It's just one idea.
It's not perfect.
To be honest any idea rooted in action are worthy ones.

But, what if everyone walked out?
These education reforms that reduce children to data and profits would crumble.
A simple democracy truth to power. The people hold the key to change not policy makers or legislators.
When we the people act together our children win.

What if no one walks out?
It does not matter as long as one parent is fighting back against education reforms that are harming our children.
Truth to power matters.
It does not matter as long as long as one teacher is fighting back against education reforms that are demoralizing and harming our teachers.
Truth to power matters.
It does not matter as long as one citizen is fighting back against education reforms that harms public education.
Truth to power matters.
As long as one person is fighting back hope lives.

Walking Man what can I do?
Coretta Scot King said: “I must remind you that starving a child is violence. Neglecting school children is violence. Punishing a mother and her family is violence. Discrimination against a working man is violence. Ghetto housing is violence. Ignoring medical need is violence. Contempt for poverty is violence.”
You can reject the violence of:
Public school neglect,
Punishing mothers,
Ghetto housing,
Lack of health care, and
Finally you can reject the violence of poverty at every step.

What should we call people who are indifference to school reforms that reduce children to test scores?
George Bernard Shaw Irish author, humanitarian, and Nobel Prize winner said:
"The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that's the essence of inhumanity."
If we are silent?
We are sinful.
If we are apathetic?
Then we are sinful.
When education reforms are indifferent to inequity and injustice?
Education becomes inhumane.
Inhumane education reforms are sinful violent acts against our most vulnerable children.
Such reforms cannot be labeled the moral actions of a nation who cares for all children.
The time to stop talking Achievement Gap, and start talking Moral Gap is now.

Called me one moral man looking for a million moral others,
Jesse The Walking Turner

If you like to listen to the song that inspired my walk this morning its Steve Earls Steve Hammer >

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

Marcus Garvey said: “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” Where does the Grand child of an Irish Immigrant learn about Marcus Garvey one of Jamaica National Heroes? He learned about Garvey from his Irish Grand Father who loved watching the world go by, and always recognized a fellow brother in arms. Marcus Garvey is an Jamaican exile little Jess. England made many exiles in their own lands. I like Garvey Little Jess. Put him on your reading list along with W.B. Yeats.

Where does a grand child of immigrants learn about his roots? Not in school people! Not in some bar! He grabs the passing stories of he/she hears as their elders pass. He/she reads it in the books not assigned at school. He/she hears it in the songs never played on the radio. He/she feels it in the dancers all around him.

Tomorrow is Saint Patrick Day. I was blessed by Irish immigrant grand parents who left us a legacy of cultural thirst. It was understood and appreciated that school would teach us American history, but faith and everything Irish was left to to them to teach. We learned history through our Irish Rebel songs. We just don’t play them, we discussed them, we debated them, and we learned from them. Our history crossed that ocean in song and poem. We learned that Ireland long a province be, a nation once again. you come to know Ireland heroes through our music. Through Irish music we learned that neither 800 years of oppression, or the Great Famine could keep us down.

We learned to pray on your knees as soon as we could knee, We learned that while our faith may not be perfect, but in our darkest hour it will carry us through any storm. For our faith is our rock.
We found pride in our dancing, and we learned that our dances carried our souls across that ocean. We are Lord’s of the Dance.

Immigrant Grand Parents Thomas and Kathleen taught their children to celebrate Irish conversion to Christianity on Saint Patrick’s Day not plastic green hats and drink. It is a day of holy Obligation not a party. We go to church, we pray, we give thanks, we watch the parade, and we eat our tri-color dinner of Cabbage, potatoes, and carrots. We reflect on who we are, who we were, and who we shall stay.
Our 20017 plan for my wife and I is just like our first Saint Patrick’s day together 33 years ago in 1984 simple Mass at Saint Patrick cathedral, watch the parade, but in 2017 we eat dinner with our now New Yorker daughter, and remind her green hats and beer haven’t anything to do with being Irish.

So very Blessed to be the Grand Child of Irish Immigrants who came to call New York home, and who made it and us Irish,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you like to travel down that memory lane when New York was Irish (When New York Was Irish by Mary O’Dowd) Happy Saint Patrick Day, Jesse The Walking Man Turner

Yee Mighty Young Ones Rise Up

Malcolm X said: “I believe that there will be ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those who do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the system of exploitation. I believe that there will be that kind of clash, but I don't think it will be based on the color of the skin...”
Malcolm X anticipated a different future. He understood that change is bigger than faith, skin color and class. He challenged us to draw a new line in the sand. A line between those who fight for justice for all, and those who fight to maintain injustice. The old world is crumbling, the old lines are fading, and our young people are different. As Bob Dylan sang long ago..."The times are a changing" The struggle between being oppressed and the oppressors has always been real. White Nationalism is coming out of the shadows, but the future I see is at Black Lives Matter rallies where I see a hold lot of White and Black Hand holding, at our Women's Marches, and at those rallies against the band at our Airports. Change is riding a new wave, a young wave, and they are tearing down old walls every day.
Rise up young ones,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you want to here what inspired this Walking Man to walk on this snow cold day....its Bob Marley's "Stand Up For Your Rights"

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The teachers they're just lazy

The teachers they're just lazy
Barry Lane, has this beautiful song about his favorite teacher, Miss Foley. It's a beautiful tribute to what it means to be a teacher. There is a bit of satire in one of the lines in the song. "The teachers they're just lazy, that's what people say, they baby sit until 3:00, and then their home all day, think of those vacations all that time away."
He put it there to reflect the growing lack of respect for teachers that has become popular these days.
Then it's goes on to show his teacher love....
"Miss Foley never married,
She never had offspring,
Unless you count the 600 she cheered on to sing,
We rarely come to visit her,
We hardly ever write,
But she follows us around each day,
And sits with us each night.
...If I never had a teacher,
Who would I be today?"
If you want to understand how important teachers are? Then all should study Barry Lane's work, or walk a mile in their shoes for 10-12 years. You know you really don't know someone until you walk in their shoes. Helen Caldecott, an Australian physician and author said this about teachers: “Teachers, I believe, are the most responsible and important members of society because their professional efforts affect the fate of the earth.”

Teachers who are they?
At 61, I have walked many miles in these teacher shoes of mine. Something has changed over the years in my humble opinion. It used to be when I said I was a teacher, people called me a saint, but something is different now. For the past decade and half, it has become popular with policy makers, legislators, and our nation's CEO(s) to ridicule, blame, and disrespect teachers. Who are these often underpaid and unappreciated teachers? Our policy makers, billionaires, and many legislators have continuously worked to make it harder to become a teacher. While at the same time working diligently pass regulations and legislation to ensure private charter schools don't have to follow the same teaching standards.
You can talk to veteran teachers, try asking them if they are encouraging any of their children or friends to become teachers? There was a time I encouraged people to become teachers. These days, I am quiet as are many others.
A decade and half of growing disrespect for teachers is about to lead to the biggest teacher shortest in American Public Education history. What are our legislators, policy makers, and billionaires doing to prevent that shortest? Making it harder to become teachers. They are rewarding their campaign contributors with new alternative quick route programs for teachers, like Teach For America, and other quick paths to teaching.

Perhaps after they finish destroying the teaching profession, and our public schools they'll start on the medical profession.
You Know a Doctor for America five-week summer program, and then learn as you go on the operating table.
Do they really need to take that Medical School Admissions test?
Do they really need to medical school?
Who needs that silly medical residency anyway?
Once they destroy medical education. I forgot they'll call it privatization. Then you can trust every doctor will be ready to learn on you, your children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces. You know can trust the privatization to maximized their profit margin. As for you well, just them.

Back to teachers
After having as gone through rigorous under graduate teacher preparation, spending hundreds of filed placement hours in classroom, student teaching, and passing three different high-stakes standardized exams they will get their initial certification for teaching. Then most states like Connecticut require a master's degree for your professional certification.
What does that master's degree experience look like? This morning I am proctoring our Literacy Master's Degree exam this morning. These teachers are about to graduate. There are 24 dedicated teachers sitting down to our three-hour exam with no true or false questions, or multiple-choice one. They will spend three hours answering just two questions based on a diagnostic case scenario of a struggling reader that changes for each exam. The case might involve a special education learner, an English Language Learner student, a student struggling academically, and can be any student in any grade from Pre-K to 12. We mix those scenarios each time, but rest assured our teachers have been well prepared for which ever diagnostic case scenario comes up.
Once they get the case:
They critically examine, analyze, and evaluate data from multiple sources, 

Develop an intervention plan,
A plan that is individually unique, and
Linguistically, socially, culturally, racially relevant to this child.

Then, they will explain how they will implement, advocate and communicate their plan to students, parents, teachers, support staff, and administrator’s advocacy and best practice research. Each teacher must support their answer using best practice research and their professionals. That's just question number one, trust me it's a kick-ass question. The second question changes from year to year, but it's another kick-ass question. Teachers in our program spend 2-3 years taking advance graduate courses, studying, answering research questions, taking in class exams, writing research papers, creating and developing special projects demonstrating their abilities to apply what they are learning, working individually, collaboratively with other teachers and professionals, provide 100 of hours of free tutoring, and writing in-depth case studies demonstrating real time application of the diagnostic instruments they are learning about, and developing and administering research-based interventions to various type of learners. The out of pocket cost for this degree at Central Connecticut State University is roughly 25,000 plus dollars. That is a deal, because we are a public university. At a private university, the cost is at least double, and in some cases triple. Our teachers also have to pass another state challenging high-stakes standardized exam to be certified as well.

Time to turn the computers and lights off
Three hours later they all gone, I have uploaded their exams using numbers rather than names for the purpose of blind reviewing. I have printed two copies each for every exam, and attached the scoring rubrics as well. I have known these teachers for nearly three years, I love each and every one. I have come to see their gifts and talents in practice, you know the important stuff that no exams could ever measure. During that time, they have amazed me, lifted many struggling young readers, and inspired me to give my best every day.
Its time log out of the computers, and turn off the lights. I can't help feeling our legislators, policy makers, education reformers, and nation's CEO's are doing more harm than good to our children, our public schools, and to our nation's teachers.
Lately, more and more I find myself listening to Barry Lane whose music seems to record every hurt being done to America's children and teachers. Still, I find myself singing Barry Lane's Miss Foley song, but feeling sick each time that satirical line comes up: "The teachers they're just lazy, that's what people say, they baby sit until 3:00, and then their home all day, think of those vacations, all that time away"
So, America take it from the man who has fought this insanity that reduces education to test scores, pits poor school against poor school, and gives away billions to CEOs who can break every rule. Teachers are busy as hell, doing their best with broken education reform policies that are destroying their profession. The problem is not our teachers, but our legislators, policy makers, and profiteers who are crushing hope, empathy, humanity more and more each day.
A view from the trenches,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you want to listen to the song that inspire my morning walk today? Its Barry Lane "If you never had a teacher"

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Hear's to every Women. You are all Phenomenal Woman!

Happy International Women's Day World.

All our teachers at our Literacy Center are women this semester. For the past 20-years female teachers have made up 99% of the teachers who have taught in our center. They have delivered millions of dollars of free tutoring to children who struggle with reading during that time.
It is simple without women our Central Connecticut State University Literacy Center would not exist. Tonight at our Literacy Center we are going to walk out to emphasize what a day without women looks like. Then turn around, and walk back in for a Women's History Teach-In. Here is to all you beautiful Phenomenal woman.

Phenomenal Woman: By Maya Angelou

“Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size  
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,  
The stride of my step,  
The curl of my lips.  
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,  
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,  
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.  
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.  
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,  
And the flash of my teeth,  
The swing in my waist,  
And the joy in my feet.  
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered  
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,  
They say they still can’t see.  
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,  
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.  
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.  
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,  
The bend of my hair,  
the palm of my hand,  
The need for my care.  
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.”

If you want to find this Walking Man Today just look for the guy wearing his pink hat and Women's Day Shirt all day long? If you want to listen to the tune I listened to this morning on my walk it's "I Can't Keep Quiet" by MILCK at the 2017 Women's March.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Dear Mr. President Trickle Down Economics does not make America Great!

Dear Mr. President, it appears you and I have a disagreement on what would make America great. Your economic plans appear to be deeply rooted in those failed trickle-down economics. Once again the poor shall be forgotten, refugees shall be persecuted, the sick, windows and orphans shall be told fend for yourselves. While the wealthy, the powerful, and connected shall be put first.

Ha-Joon Chang, the author of 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism said: “Once you realize that trickle-down economics does not work, you will see the excessive tax cuts for the rich as what they are -- a simple upward redistribution of income, rather than a way to make all of us richer, as we were told.”

For nearly 40 years now the needy have waited on trickle-down economics to lift working people. Once again Washington plans to go back to that tickle-down well of despair and immorality. Wall Street is jumping for joy, reaching new heights daily, and laughing all the way to the banks.

A warning Mr. President, if the poor do not get justice in this world, they will get justice in the next. Scripture states: Deuteronomy 15:7-8, 10-11 “If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs…You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. For the poor, will never cease from the land; therefore, I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.”

A warning America, trust me on this one thing God sees all, knows all, and will never view the richest nation in the world that favors it's wealthy, it's powerful, and the connected at every turn, while ignoring the poor as great. Every day we mistreat the poor, refugees, widows, orphans, and our sick is another day America is not great. Mr. President, I plea with you make "America Great," lift our poor, embrace refugees, help our widows, our orphans, and our sick. It is simple, we will never be one nation under God until we honor God’s call to lift our brethren, and our poor with open hearts.

Until then may God forgive us,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

PS A word to all you Legislators, Education Reformers, CEOs, Billionaires, and Policy Makers. You can't improve our public schools in poor urban and rural communities, without improving those communities and the lives of the people who live there. If you like to listen to the song that inspired my morning walk over the mountain today? Its Up To The Mountain by Patty Griffin

Thursday, March 2, 2017

In Between the madness, remember this? What we teach in public schools matters

Beyond Close Reading!
Beyond high-stakes testing!
Beyond their Ed Reform scams!
What matters!
In between the madness of appointing Betsy DeVos the United States Secretary of Education. Someone with no experience working in public schools, or even having attended them. Between America's madness of endless high-stakes testing, and school choice scams. Remember this one important point teachers and parents? What we teach in our public schools matters!

Cesar Chavez said: “We need to help students and parents cherish and preserve the ethnic and cultural diversity that nourishes and strengthens this community - and this nation.”

At our CCSU Literacy Center we held our 15 Annual Black History Month Read-A-Thon as part of NCTE's African Read-In this past Monday. We hold Read-A-Thons every month. In March, it's Women's History. In October, we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, in November we celebrate Native Americans. In December, we celebrate our Immigrant Roots, Come April we celebrate poetry, and in May we celebrate our veterans and peace.
At Read-A-Thons:
We wear pajamas,
We wear sports gear,
We wear crazy hats,
We wear costumes,
We wear dance outfits,
We bring our pillows,
We bring our stuff animals,
We bring our little brothers and sisters,
We even bring our big brothers and sisters.

No one reads in chairs,
We read on the floor,
We read under tables,
We read on sleeping bags,
We read on beach towels,
We read with flashlights,
We read with buddies,
We read in the hallway,
We read on the stairs,
We read,
We read and we read.

Our Read-A-Thons, promote reading stamina via 90 minutes of continuous reading and talking about reading. They promote reading for pleasure via student choice. Kids pick what they want to read.
Something beautiful and powerful always take place at our Read-A-Thons. Something not written into any of our objectives. Something bigger than close reading!
We come to know each other,
We come to respect each other,
And we come to value each other.

I wonder if in this rush to measure and test close reading, we miss the real power of history?
I wonder if we are turning children away from reading for pleasure?
I wonder if with close reading history becomes a chore?
I wonder if we might be missing the real potential of history?
History  as the power to bring us together!
You know the power to cherish and preserve the ethnic, racial, and cultural diversity that nourishes and strengthens our America that Cesar advised us to teach?
Harmony, respect, and dignity aren't written in our Read-A-Thon objectives, but they are everywhere.
Reading feeds our souls, and our young people's souls are so very hungry for real reading America,
Jesse The Walking Turner

If you are wondering what song this Walking Man was listening to on his walk over the Avon Mountain this windy day...its the version of "Teach Your Children Well" by Play For Change.