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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"

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