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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Just tell me America-Where Is The Humanity

Dear America,
My role, as our CCSU Literacy Center Director is different than the typical university academic. Like other faculty members. I am responsible for being a good teacher, researcher, and to provide service to my department, my school, and the university. What makes my role different is most of my work in centered around teachers teaching real children at the university and in local public schools. It’s that roll that pushes me to be an education activist.
I have been at the university for nearly 20 years now, and I have never see more harm being done to children and teachers by high-stakes testing, inequity, and an endless amount of inhumanity coming from policy makers, billionaires, and legislators via the failures of their education reforms. It is not easy to be a student, or a teacher these days, and I have come to view a great deal of school failure as being trauma and racism related. An already irrelevant curriculum is becoming even more irrelevant with technology based learning programs deeply rooted in the Common Core.

Most faculty expect students coming to them seeking help from time to time, and we are happy to give it. Lately, though it is not about their struggles with assignments, but about becoming ill, depressed, and feeling humiliated at work. I am so lost in this role, I am seeing far too many good teachers walk away these days. I am also seeing potential teachers walk away as well. Saying Dr. Turner, I can’t see myself teaching.  This, hurts, and drives my activism. I may not be able to fix it now, but I will give it everything I have. I will give it until I fall, or win this fight. 

My role, also has parents coming to me, sometimes in tears, and always thankful for the time their children get to spend in our Literacy Center. The tears come from difficulties that are having getting services at their regular public schools, or the destructive negative impact of abusive high-stakes testing is having on their child. One parent said when my older son went to the middle school, he had a school librarian, an art teacher, a music teachers, a gym teacher, a social worker and a counselor for each grade. Now, there is a library without a librarian, and every one of those teachers are gone, and they have only one gym teacher. How can I send my daughter there next year? This America, breaks my heart. How can we educated our children with the arts, real librarians, and counselors? 
Another parent called me this morning to say her school will not honor her son’s IEP, (Individual Education Plan). Your Child’s IEP should not be a battleground. This happens more and more these days. I do my best to comfort and encourage our parents, but I can’t make it right. It makes me work extra hard to make sure childhood is celebrated at our literacy center. I can't change what is happening outside our Literacy Center, but I make sure that every child is viewed as gifted. What I can do outside our Literacy Center is to speak up, stand up, testify, and march for change. This is what drives my activism, because silence and apathy would crush my heart. I will fight until I fall, or win! 

I love what I do, but it is hard to witness the inhumanity of what education reform is doing to our children, parents, teachers, and public schools.
We have to start demanding to see the humanity in their education reforms? Trust me, when I say I have not seen it in NCLB, RTTT, or ESSA.

So, last night like so many nights these days I found a way to fight back. So, I drove down to Southern Connecticut State University to deliver my Social Justice Keynote speech "Where is the humanity"

SCSU Social Justice Month Keynote 

A key difference between these 2017 events now, and doing my first 2010 Walk from Connecticut to DC... Is everyone is room is clapping, and saying how can we stop it. 
Now you understand why this academic is speaking up, standing up, walking, and marching.

Family Literacy Night at Elizabeth Green Elementary 

When it gets to hard, I find some way to do some good in our public schools with my teachers. They are always willing and able. I have never found them lacking. They are my strength and hope. 
Like a small boat on an ocean, 
Jesse The Walking Man Turner   

If you want to hear what song inspired my walk on the Avon mountain this's Rachel Platten's "Fight Song"

Friday, November 3, 2017

It's the humanity not any Mumbo Jumbo of Teaching Best Practices

CCSU Literacy Center Teacher I missed you too 
I am blessed to work with new teachers, experienced teachers, parents, and children. There is not a single day that I don't see some act of kindness happening that inspires me. Helen Keller said: “Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all -- the apathy of human beings.”

I hear a great deal of "Best Practice" in teaching, but it's all twisted in rubrics of indifference. Tied to learning objectives, benchmarks, teaching as a science. The very things that no child will ever remember twenty years from now.

Just when I think all is lost, I turn around, and see what my friend Jamaal Bowman refers to as teaching as a pedagogy of love.
Teachers, Teachers, Teachers,
Every pat on the back,
Every sign of love,
Every message of hope,
Every good job,
Every Glad you came today,
Every I missed you,
Every hug for doing a good job,
Every I like what you are doing, can we work on it together,
Every kind word,
Every kind look,
Every Kind act,

Your humanity matters more than the all the teaching scientific mumbo jumbo.
Your humanity matters more than the test scores,
Your humanity is what children will remember 20 years from now,
Your humanity is what keeps you fresh, hopeful, and it is what makes you beautiful.
Hear's to the beautiful moments.
Jesse The Walking Man Turner
This medal may be plastic, but reading your first chapter book is all GOLD 
Teachers inspire me to walk. Vicki Soto was one of the teachers on December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut, that Adam Lanza Murdered while she protected her first graders.  I can't change the past, but I can choose to honor the courage, humanity of those 20 children murdered, and the six adults who died defending them. Vicki Soto sacrifice reminds me that there is something inside us so strong. Consider running, or walking with me some year in the VickiSoto 5k ( ).Newtown mother Nelba Marquez-Green mother of Six year-old Ana Grace murdered that day reminds us everyday "Love Wins".  Consider supporting the Ana Grace Project  
( )
On Saturday I choose to walk with love. Vicki represents the best example of teacher humanity I know. 

It the humanity that defines us, and it's our humanity that saves us.
If you like to listen to the song that is inspiring me to walk in the Vicki Soto 5k tomorrow it's 
Lira performing "Something Inside So Strong""Something Inside So Strong" 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Worth every penny

To all you commuter college students and their parents out there.
"Well darkness has a hunger that's insatiable
And lightness has a call that's hard to hear
I wrap my fear around me like a blanket
I sailed my ship of safety 'til I sank it
I'm crawling on your shores" ~ Indigo Girls

I never lived in the university dorm. Brought the meal plan. I took the bus and my lunch for my first three years to college. None of it hurt me. I made many friends on that bus, and many are still friends today. 
I always found time to read another chapter, or engage in great conversations on those bus rides. I needed to be near work and home.
Looking back being near home meant my biggest fans and greatest ch
eerleaders were always there to greet me at the door at the end of those bus rides. To ease my burdens, read my papers, and help revise and edit them. To feed me my favorite meal at the very moment I needed it most. The Home Team mattered a great deal to me. I owe a part of my degrees to my Home Team.
I always think at graduation the whole family and their friends should march up with our graduates. No one is an island. We never get there alone. Somewhere someone helped us stay the course, and get over the bumps.  
Here's to those who are commuting to community colleges and universities today. Take heart, you are not missing out on anything. It was all good, to be honest it kept me grounded, and out of a lot of trouble.
Also one more thing, all the sleepless nights, brain battering days, the feeling stupid moments, and yes all those student loans were worth it. 
Worth every penny,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you like to listen to the tune that inspire me on my walk this morning it was "Closer To Fine" by the Indigo Girls