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Friday, October 27, 2017

I'm not waiting America's courts

State Heroine Prudence Crandall, with a Student in Hartford LOB.

At Howard University in Washington DC at the 2015 Save Our Schools Coalition
March and conference
I'm not waiting
Some educator reformers are inspired by Wall Street Billionaires, Presidents, and Politicians,
They look to these as prophets of justice and equity,
Some live on their every word,
Some live to touch their garments in hopes of salvation.
But, I say these are the very ones who have always compromised equity and justice in education.
These are the ones who say equity someday will come, but not this day,
These are the ones who say justice someday will come, but not this day,
Be patient people, you can't expect the world to change overnight.
Yeah, I know these people,
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. knew these people,
On April 16, 1963, he wrote his historic Letter from a Birmingham Jail,
Some know the reason why he wrote his letter,
But, more have no clue,
Some know the reason he wrote from an Alabama jail cell,
I suspect many of these current so-called Ed Reformers, and their idol Wall Street Billionaires haven't a clue.
I have read in between Martin's jail house lines, and found that April 12, 1963 Clerical letter: ALABAMA CLERGYMEN'S LETTER TO DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
I have read their words:
"We the undersigned clergymen are among those who in January, issued "An Appeal for Law and Order and Common Sense," in dealing with racial problems in Alabama. We expressed understanding that honest convictions in racial matters could properly be pursued in the courts but urged that decisions of those courts should in the meantime be peacefully obeyed."
Oh, Yeah I have read the one before, the jail letter,
I know why Martin rejected their be patient Negro people,
Let our courts work it all out.

Those very same courts that enforced 3/5s of a human being,
The  Supreme Court that ruled that Dred Scott was still a slave, and if his owners wanted they could come get him anytime,
The court that said he had no right to file suit in these United States,
As he was not a citizen of the nation he was born in.
The courts that allowed Jim Crow to flourish,
The courts that allow voter intimidation in our land today,
The courts that gave no justice to:
Trevon Martin,
Michael Brown,
Eric Gardner,
Sandra Bland,
Alton Sterling,
Or a thousand other Black souls.
While, the privilege can be patient,
While, others can wait on the courts,
While, others can have faith in School Choice Policies without equity.
While, others can place their faith in Courts, Billionaires and Politicians,
I know, better.
I know, our nation's history,
I know, what the life of a real education activist looks like,
It isn’t no Principal Perry on CNN,
For I have studied the life of Prudence Crandall,
That American schoolteacher and activist who pushed for women's suffrage and the rights of Black Girls,
And, in old Canterbury,
They, burnt her school for Black Girls,
Like Dr. King, they jailed her.
But, like Dr. King no prison cell could hold her.
I am tired of patience,
I am tired of waiting,
I draw my line in the sand,
I am not standing with these Ed Reformers who say someday, but for now let our public schools compete against each other for limited resources.
I don't want justice in our public schools’ tomorrow,
I don't want our poorest school to compete against each other.
I reject that old notion of dog eat dog.

What do I want?
When do I want it?

What do I want?
When do I want it?
What am I marching for?
When am I marching,
Every day the call goes out.
Like Steinbeck's Tom Joad I'll be there.
Now you know where I'll be,
Now you what I am fighting for,
Now you know I'm marching  for,
I'll be there,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner
First United Opt Out Washington DC Department of Education
Like Tom Joad said at the very end. I am ready to take responsibility for justice. Like Tom I have come to understand we are each other's keeper. . I head the ghost of Tom calling me.
Wherever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there.
Wherever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there.
If Casy knowed, why, I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad an’—I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry n’ they know supper’s ready. An’ when our folks eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build—why, I’ll be there. See? God, I’m talkin’ like Casy. Comes of thinkin’ about him so much. Seems like I can see him sometimes." ~ Steinbeck Grapes of Wrath

If you want to listen to the song that inspired my walk over the Avon Mountain this morning it's 
Tom Morello "Ghost of Tom Joad" w/Roger Waters and Wounded Warriors

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Oh, where have you been, my walking man?

Rose Ryes and Jo Lib helping to map our my 2015 walk to DC
There is no doubt in my mind that the next generation. The one we tested until they cried, tested until they were broken, turned their childhood in data points on corporate scatter charts,  did all we could to kill art, music, drama, and play in our public schools.
For the love of money!

There is no doubt this generation will kill high-stakes testing when they inherit power. In the meantime this Walking Man is going to be in the face of these Corporate Pirates, their policy makers, and legislative lap dogs.

In the mean time here is a poem written for the Walking Man by Dr. Ernie Pancsofar from the Department of Special Education and Intervention at Central Connecticut State University.
This poem has its roots in Dylan’s A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall. My colleague and friend, Jesse Turner, walked from Connecticut to Washington DC on two occasions to protest the harm done to children by the high-stakes assessment culture that pervades our schools. I applaud Jesse’s dedication and advocacy on behalf of all children.

The High Stakes Tests are Gonna Fall
Oh, where have you been, my walking man? Oh, where have you been, out walking the land?
I’ve walked in my home state – yes, from the Northeast; 10 miles at a time in the rain and the heat. I’ve been in the country and I’ve been in many a town. My steps take me up and they also bring me down.
I’ve stepped on the sidewalk and I’ve stepped in the street. I’ve walked alone and with the many people I meet.
Each day’s a new dawn with the friends that I make. Their spirit is with me every step that I take.
And I’ll walk, yes I’ll walk, yes I’ll walk - - - for us all.
For the High Stakes Tests - - - are Gonna Fall.

Oh, what did you see, my walking man? Oh, what did you see, out walking the land?
I saw young and old and black and white.
I saw love and honor in the day and the night.

I saw signs and posters after walking many miles.

I saw hope on their faces and was met with huge smiles.
I saw defiance and grit and not backing down.

That’s what I saw as I went town by town.
And I’ll walk, yes I’ll walk, yes I’ll walk - - - for us all.
For the High Stakes Tests - - - are Gonna Fall.

Oh, what did you hear, my walking man? Oh, what did you hear, out walking the land?
I heard teachers, students, and parents all pleading, Get rid of those TESTS – our hearts are a’bleeding!
I heard shouts of anguish and long drawn out sighing.

I heard heart-wrenching screams amid all the crying.

I heard laughter from the people who make all their money,
Off the backs of the students who don’t think it’s that funny.
I heard critics who say we all can do better.

I heard from hundreds of parents who sent me their letters.
And I’ll walk, yes I’ll walk, yes I’ll walk - - - for us all.
For the High Stakes Tests - - - are Gonna Fall.

Oh, who did you meet, my walking man?  Oh, who did you meet, out walking the land?
I met the eyes of the students in all types of schools.
I met our next senators – the future makers of new rules.
I met parents who just want what’s right and what’s just.
They all are behind me – Washington DC or bust!

I met people who offered me food and a drink.

I met people who wanted to hear what I think.

I met hard working people who will not give up hope.

I met love and faith – two great ways we can cope.
And I’ll walk, yes I’ll walk, yes I’ll walk - - - for us all.
For the High Stakes Tests - - - are Gonna Fall.

Oh, what will you do now, my walking man? Oh, what will you do now, out walking the land?
I’ll talk to all people who know things are not right.
I’ll share all the stories and help them shed some light.

I’ll work with our teachers for better ways to assess.

I’ll help make real plans to get us out of this mess.

I’ll dedicate my life to the students I meet
in our literacy center – when they come each week.
I’ll never back down from the high stakes test lies,
from the people who deceive and pull the wool over our eyes.
And I’ll walk, yes I’ll walk, yes I’ll walk - - - for us all.
For the High Stakes Tests - - - are Gonna Fall.
Image from the end of my 2015 in Washington DC. Where BATS came to welcome me.

If you like to listen to the song this Walking Man is listening to on his walk this morning over the Avon's Barry Lane's Jesse Turner is a Walking Man
First, thank you Dr. Pancsofar for your gift poem, and second-yes brother those High Stakes Tests are gonna fall,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Some day I'm gonna lay this hammer down

Imagine what school would look like if teachers could just teach?
Imagine if we could just concentrate on making learning meaningful, fun, and interesting?
Imagine if policy makers, CEOs, and politicians stopped turning our children into data points, profits and campaign donations?

Until then I'm going to keep swinging and singing Steve Earle's Hammer song.
"One of these days I'm gonna lay this hammer down
And I won't have to drag this weight around
When there ain't no hunger
And there ain't no pain
Then I won't have to swing this thing
One of these days I'm gonna lay this hammer down
Yeah, one of these days I'm gonna lay this hammer down"

In between the fights for equity and justice in our public schools, communities, and nation,
I get to play the role of being the teacher,
I dream-ed, I would become,
That dream holds it all together for me.
Someday I'm gonna lay this justice hammer down.
Someday, equity and justice shall be the norm,
And I'm gonna be the teacher I was born to be everyday.
Until then I gonna weave in and out of the Good fight, and hold on to those good teaching days.
October Read-A-Thon coming on 10/30.
Got my pirate pajamas and flag all ready to go,
I'm going to lead the Wild Rumpus at the CCSU Literacy Center.

Imagine honoring children's reading choices,
Imagine endless fresh popcorn,
Imagine young readers laughing, smiling, and reading together under the tables, in the hallways, on beach blankets,
Imagine plastic gold medals,
Imagine the smiling faces of children, teachers, and parents.
Imagine letting children be children?
But, understand reading stamina, and reading for pleasure are the best ways to build new vocabulary and fluency for young readers.

We don't need your rigor,
We don't need your grit,
We build readers for life here, not readers for the test.
Can't wait until the Wild Reading Rumpus begins,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

Do you, even have to ask what tune this walking man is listening to on his walk on the Avon Mountain? Steve Earle's Hammer

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Connecticut: "We Choose: Truth in Education Reform Task Force"

Once again, our Tax Dollars are feeding the Charter School Gravy Train. Wall Street CEOs are invited into our communities, given millions, millions more in tax breaks, Visas for their friends and families, and given the keys to our local public schools. This continues to happen despite NAACP and Black Lives Matter Moratoriums on New Charter Schools. 
Budget cuts are devastating our local public schools in Connecticut and across the nation. Our nation's legislators at every level continue fill that-for Profit Charter School Gravy Train. Hundreds of millions of our public tax-dollars given to for profit educators at every turn. All the while they are cutting local school budgets. 

This Monday is Columbus Day. It should be noted Columbus did not discover a new world. It was already here, but his coming did mark the birth of a deadly colonization that would decimate Native Nations and their peoples. Columbus had no right to claim a New World for Spain that he did not own.
Local Public Schools are already here. These Education Reformers for profit, have no right to use our tax dollars to colonize our local public schools.
This Columbus Day, this coming Monday, Connecticut Moral Mondays, SOS, BATs, Children Are More Than Test Scores join with "We Choose" National campaign plan to step up our fight for real equity, real justice in our local public schools.
We reject inequity,
We reject injustice, 
And we reject the colonization of our local public schools. 

This Monday we shall launch a "We Choose: Truth in Education Reform Task Force" to investigate School Choice Reforms in Connecticut. 
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

From where I stand, I don't see failing schools. I see legislators at every level, failing to fully our poorest schools, and giving away billions of tax dollars to CEOs to plunder our local community public schools.
If you want to listen to the song that inspired my walk ovwer the mountain this's the Black Eye Peas singing "Where Is The Love"