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Thursday, April 20, 2017

I went to Public-Schools

I went to public schools, public universities, and have taught my whole career in those places. I owe a million thank you(s) to those teachers who taught me.
I am sure both Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Betsy DeVos would call the public schools I attended failing schools. Both could not understand why someone like me would feel blessed to have attended those public schools. 
But, blessed I am to have been taught by teachers who believed we could be more, 
Teachers who taught their entire careers in inequitable settings, 
Teachers who had to make do without the necessary resources, 
Teachers who had to teach, us the hungry, the poor, and the abandoned. 
Teachers who taught every day without complaint,
And when I looked up, and said I want to go to college? 
Their smiles made me believe I could. 
When I was cold? 
My teachers found a coat, gloves and a hat for me,
When I went to Public Universities,
I found teachers who placed wings upon my dreams.
In those public schools and public universities, 
I found friends for life. 
In those public schools and public universities, 
I found my voice, my hopes, and faith in myself,
If it were not for my public-school teachers?
I would have fallen long ago.
Here's to every public-school teacher,
Here's to every public university professor,
Here's to those teachers who never had the resources,
Here's to those teachers who never had the professional supports needed,
Here's to my common bond, I share with 90% of my fellow Americans,
Here's to my heroes,
American public-school teachers.
Love from the little boy without a coat, 
The one you brought a coat for.
Love from the little boy who had no lunch, 
The one you brought an extra sandwich for. 

Love from the little boy who had a dream,
The one you gave wings to his dream.
Love, love, love, and a hundred thousand thank you(s).
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you like to know which song inspired my morning walk in the rain....its Sam Cooks Wonderful world ...

Monday, April 17, 2017

Before Gentifaction Killed Us!

Long before the beautiful Judy Collins recorded Amazing Grace at Saint Paul Chapel at Columbia University and made it an instant international hit.  Judy Collins link > <
Before she turned that little recorded song into one of the most recorded songs ever.
Irish and Scottish Bag Pipers had played it for two hundred years.

Jersey City firefighters and members of the Port Authority Police Department Bag Pipe playing at 9/11 memorial 

What I missed about when I was young and Irish?
Is Paddy playing Amazing Grace on the Bag Pipes.
Before the gentrification killed us,
Before our politicians gave tax credits to billionaires to move our jobs overseas,
Before they busted our unions,
Before they stole our pensions,
Before they decided a living wage would hurt Wall Street profits,
Before the Yuppies came,
Before 9/11.

When being Blue Collar meant something beautiful,
When being Blue Collar meant being proud,
When being Irish meant something more than green beer on Saint Patrick Day.

When I was young living by the river near the old pier on summer nights on Saturdays.
The men would come to the river, smoke and drink a bit before they would go home.
My mother would say go get your father and your uncles.
I would find them sitting with their shirts off, talking, laughing, moaning, bragging, and groaning. The Whisky was pouring, and then Paddy would jumped out on those old single pier piles with his bagpipes. He play " a Wearing of the Green. We cheer Good Man Paddy!
Eventually as the sun began setting Paddy played "Amazing Grace", and it signaled time to go home boys.

I remember being proud of all of them.
I remember all I ever wanted was to be them.
I was blessed by living in a time when Blue Collar life mattered.
Those men taught me what my school books couldn't.
Those men educated me in the ways my numerous university degrees could never do.

They taught me:
It does not matter Little Jess what kind of work you do.
What matters is pride in an honest day's work.
Work is dignity, and dignity is pride in a good day's work.
They gave me a place to hold on to,
Gave me a soul to call my own,
They gave me an identity of my own.
They made me Irish Proud,
They made me American Proud,
They made me human.
Here's to all those fathers, uncles, and cousins who educated me.
Here's to all you working class heroes,
Here's to the heroes I love.
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

On my walk over the mountain this morning...I listened to Sinead O'Cornor signing the song all the men sang as they walked home from those abandoned piers.. "Oro Se do Bheatha Bhaile"

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Standardized testing has always been about Half Glass Learners

Every time I meet new students I place a glass in the middle of a large bowl. I then fill it half way. I look out, and ask tell me about this glass?

Everyone immediately states the glass is half full.
I say what about the other half of the glass?

They look at me somewhat puzzled.
Tell me teachers, is there water in that half?
They say no.

I say then the glass is half empty then?
But what?
Well it's better to see it as half full?

Who told you that?
Everyone Professor.
Would you say there are half glass people and half full people?
Yes, we would.

Today let me tell you about the other people, the ones I hope you become.
Then I start pouring water into the glass until it overflows.
What do you see now?
A glass filled and over flowing.
Well, my hope is you leave that half full group, and join us people who fill our own glasses.

I hope you open your minds, read until you drop, think until it hurts, and join this group of people who reject the notions of half empty and half full.
Standardized testing has always been about measuring the half glass learners, it lacks the vision to measure those capable of filling their own glasses.
Children are more than test scores,
Jesse The Walking Turner

What happens when students boycott a standardized test?
They become learners who fill their own minds! If you like to listen to the tune that inspired this Walking Man on his walk this morning its...Play For Change cover of "Teach Your Children"

Saturday, April 8, 2017

It was never about our children, it was always about money and power

Marcus Garvey said: "Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds!" -
The two things are driving this drive to turn our children into data points?

The first is money. Testing companies are raking in billions of dollars in profits. The politicians of both parties are raking in millions of dollars worth of campaign contributions. None of this is about children, it's about money and power.

The second thing, is the silence and apathy of the parents of the over 50 million children has given them permission to abuse children, teachers, and our public schools.

Their is only one solution open to ending this.
Parents Opting Out of this high-stakes testing scam that is crushing Art, Music, Physical Education, Recess, and any sense of the dignity and humanity of childhood.If we can't stand up for children, then we stand with evil,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

I am a better man for standing with Ben and his mother against the evil that dares to reduce his beautiful soul to some meaningless data points. Thank you Cindy and Ben for helping this Walking Man see the inhumanity of the of this madness that is reduces children to profits and data points. I have been blessed by the parents that I met on both my 2010 and 2015 walks to DC.

If you like to listen to the tune that inspire my morning walk this morning....its Bob Marley's Stand Up For Your Rights...

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Old Shoes In The Library

My library memories are not of books, but of his smells, and his old worn leather shoes. The library belonged to the old men who were push out of their wives’ way at home. The place for international debates among men from every corner of Europe in between the Liberian's shushes. The spot where Jews, Christians, the silent Muslims plus one or two atheists, read the newspapers in Spanish, English, Hebrew, French, and Arabic. The Library was bigger than English only back then. 

Their smells were beautiful old wool and worn out cottons with strong tobacco remnants. Yellow old teeth that spoke gentle wisdoms' in idioms lost deep in my heart. I remember Old Solid Walnut tables with heavy oak chairs surrounded by real plaster walls. The giant windows lighting every corner. From the viewpoint of a childhood, I am near the feet of my grandfather's old brown leather shoes. Listening under the table to the awe-inspiring talk of old men as they accomplish daily what the United Nations can only dream these days. 
The smell was not fresh, but old. Even 52 years later that old leaves me refreshed and invigorated. I can smell the coffee, the tobacco, and those old wools filling my dreams. Not one high school graduate among them, but each a scholarly reader wise beyond any university's towers. 
Their collected experience had lived through a dozen wars, depressions, numerous deaths and births. Their bones were tired, but they walked miles each day with dogs picking up their grandchildren from schools while parents worked their lives away. As they debated world politics, human rights, and the hopes of labor, we their grandchildren did our homework at their feet. Saying grandfathers this question is too hard. What does this mean? How are we going to answer this one? They relished every school question sent home with us. They would stopped the whole world for the wonder and awe of our homework questions. Understanding that these were the questions denied them in their childhood.

I miss those old shoes in the library of my heart

I missed his hand walking home, from our place of hope, love, and dreams,

I miss his smell,

I miss his deep wide sparking blue eyes,

I miss his gratifying voice,

I miss his very presence,

I miss walking up those marble stairs,

I miss him saying these stairs were made for princes and scholars Little Jess,

I would give the world for one more moment at his feet in our old library

His library memory holds my heart

My heart holds fast to that old man, and his smells and shoes

Locked away forever beautiful and safe, I wait to be near his feet under the table in heaven's library.

Libraries keep nation's healthy and strong, 
Jesse The Walking Turner

If you want to hear the song that carried me on my morning walk today in the rain?...its Dougie MacLean singing Auld Lang Syne

Sunday, April 2, 2017

540 days without learning for the love of money

In the old days
Remember a public-school child for people over 50 had only 6 days of testing. The children of the wealthy, the powerful, and the connected don't attend our public schools, so standardized testing never really mattered much to them. For Public school students previous to the 1970’s testing happened 3 times during their K-12 years. Testing happens once in elementary school, once in middle school, once in high schools, and each time for no more than 2 days. We lost 6 days of learning.
These days
As NCLB and RTT came into full swing teachers began to inform me that we're spending 8-12 weeks of school taking, preparing, and practicing for these tests every year. That means Children today spend 540 days not learning. 540 days equals 3 years of learning. Trust me for Black, Brown, Special Education, and Poor children 540 days is a low estimate. Many schools are so obsessed with testing they were reducing and eliminating PE, Art, Music, and history. Schools in our poorest communities began focusing on isolated reading, writing, and math almost exclusively under No Child Left Behind, and under Race To The Top they increased that focus.
Love of Money drives this madness

As a Literacy expert, my thinking is this overemphasis on testing, isolated literacy and math will actually turn children off reading and writing. This over-emphasis on testing demoralizes teachers and harms our children. It is one of the major reasons for many of our growing behavior problems in our public schools in my professional opinion.
We need education leaders walking and talking With children, parents, and teachers about abusive testing

I have spoken out at every chance I could find since 2002. I have lobbied policymakers and legislators to end this testing madness that took away 3 years of learning. None of them listened. So I decided to walk from Connecticut to DC to protest high-stakes testing in 2010. Some 40o miles over 40 days. On that walk, I met teachers, parents, and students who confirmed, the loss of learning time, and the harm it was doing to children and teachers. In 2015 I walked again to protest ESSA, because it changes nothing, and again teachers and parents reported the problems under ESSA have exacerbated the problem. Three things learned from fighting this insane testing policy: 1. First the only time, policymakers and politicians force draconian school policies on our public schools is when money is pouring into their campaign chests. 2. The reason it continues is too many parents, teachers, and students have remained silent and apathetic. 3. None of this is about our children, it is 540 days of not learning for the love of money! Rise up parents, Rise up teachers, Dr. Jesse P. Turner
Professor of Literacy, Elementary, and Early Childhood Education Barry Lane’s We Found Defiance link

Saturday, April 1, 2017

No More Lord

Every day the focus of education reform is on competition.
It's gives cover to inequity and injustice in our poorest and most vulnerable public schools.

Every day the focus of education is on turning children into data points.
It gives cover to policies that dehumanize our children and their teachers.

Every day, the focus of education reform steals away art and music from Black, Brown, Special Education, and Poor Children.
It crushes the hopes and dreams of our most vulnerable children.

Every day education reform pushes programs that place the most inexperience teachers with our most vulnerable children.
It crushes hope, and harms children, and makes a mockery of teaching.

Every day we close a local public school to replace it with a for private charter school.
We help destroy a neighborhood.

Every day we let politicians, policy makers, and billionaires tell us poverty doesn't matter.
Our poorest children lose.

Every day we let politicians, policy makers, and billionaires tell us money doesn't matter.
Our poorest children lose.

Every day we let politicians, policy makers, and billionaires call forcing our poorest schools to compete against each other for limited resources.
Our poorest schools, children, and teachers lose.

Every day we remain silent and apathetic.
God sees us.

Every day children are reduced to test scores.
We lose a bit of our souls.

Trust me on this one thing. Children grow up, and they are going to ask us why we let this happen?
It's time to draw our lines in the sand.
Opt Out Parents,
March Teachers,
Preachers Preach,
No more lord.
Jesse The Walking Turner

If you like to listen to the tune that inspired my morning walk this gray cold icy rain soak last day of march...its that old prison spiritual "No More Lord" cover by Melody Gardot
Singing and walking...

"Tell me where, Tell me where
Tell me where he can be found
And I'll never turn back no more.
Down on my knees, down on my knees
Try and love if you please
And I'll never turn back no more.
ooh, ooh,
ooh, oh, ooh
No more, no more
No more, no more
And I'll never turn back no more.