Search This Blog

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Blow those teaching trumpets to Gabriel

I remember that above picture well. I remember that day well. I stood with my United Opt brothers and sisters as they occupied the United States Department of Education. The title of that occupy speech on that day United Opt called teachers to DC was; Duncan's House of Pain, Duncan's House of Shame.
Bob Marley sang: "No woman No Cry, I remember when we used to sit. In the government yard in Trenchtown And then Georgie would make the fire light. Log wood burnin' through the night. Then we would cook corn meal porridge. Of which I'll share with you. My feet is my only carriage"

These feet are my only carriage

What is 40 days and forty nights to the righteous?
What is 400 miles to the Just?
What is 400 miles to a teacher bent on justice and equity in our public schools?
I say not a thing these feet can't handle!

Can I, forget Mrs. Stansfield lesson on Langston Hughes: "What happens to a dream deferred,"
Can I, not still hear Langston's words?
"What happens to a dream deferred?"
"Does it dry up. like a raisin in the sun?"
These ears, may be older, but they still hold the lessons of my past.
What happens to a dream deferred?

Mrs Stanfield said, it can rise,
I say, it can it rise?
What if, it rises up?
What if, it speaks up?
What if, it walks?

Do I, stay quiet?
Do I, become another coward hiding in his apathy?
Do I, dare speak up?
Do I hear the Nay Sayers shouting?
What can one man walking accomplish?
I don't know,
But,  Truth Matters,
Trust me brothers and sisters,
One man walking in the name of love,

Am I not, their teacher,
Am I not, their defender?
Am I not, Jesse The Walking Man Turner.

Do I not teach at Central Connecticut State University?
How could I not remain true to the legacy of our favorite son, Ebenezer D. Bassett?
How I do I forget his final thesis title, The True Teacher?
How do I not pick up the mantle of "The True Teacher?"
How do I not remember that Ebenezer the teacher, became America's first Black Diplomat?
How do forget in that role became known as "The Hero of Hispaniola"?
How do I forget he save thousands of lives in Haiti?
How do I forget he returned to assume the role of teacher, of educator, of leader?
I teach at Central Connecticut State University, Bassett's house of learning.
Silence and apathy are not the tools of a true teacher.
Silence and apathy are not acceptable at Bassett's house of learning,
Silence and apathy are the tools of cowards, not the true teacher.

Get Ready Secretary DeVos?
Get Ready all you "Test Them Until They Cry Ed Reformers?
Get Ready all you school budget cutters?
Get ready cause this raisin, isn’t drying up.
Get ready for this teacher is rising
Get ready cause this teacher is rising for all teachers.
Get Ready cause this teacher is rising for all children.

This True Teacher:
Is walking for equity in our public schools,
Is walking for justice in our public schools,
Is walking for every child, parent, and teacher being beat down by those School Choice liars.
Is walking, because someone has to tell them, children are more than test scores.

Tell our lying President,
Tell our lying Congress,
Tell our lying Senate,
Tell those lying Wall Street Profiteers,
Tell that House of pain, that house of shame,
Tell that United States Department of Education,
This True Teacher is calling their BS.

I have walked this truth road before,
I am already in training again,
Down 12 pounds, and
Gearing up for one more 400 mile walk.

These old feet are strong,
These feet are made for walking,
These feet will carry me,
These feet are my only carriage for justice,
These feet carry the legacy of the Hebrew people who walked out of bondage in Egypt,
These feet carry the legacy of runaway slaves seeking north,
These feet carry the legacy of those Women Suffragettes seeking the vote,
These feet carry the legacy of civil rights workers fighting for the vote,
These feet are Moral MondayCT strong,
These feet are Journey 4 Justice Strong,
These feet are Save Our Schools March strong,
These feet Badass Teaching strong,
These feet are union storng,
These feet are United Opt Out strong,
These feet are Black Lives Matter strong,
These strong feet will walk for justice.
These feet shall walk to DC again,
These feet will be walking,
Walking to demand that Betsy DeVos reign,

I'm not stopping at Betsy's doors in that House of Pain, that House of Shame, that United State Department of Education.
I am laying this body and these feet down between those doors,
Let them carry me out, or
Watch her leave for good.
Silence and apathy are not acceptable to a True Teacher,
Blow your teaching trumpets to Gabriel,
This teacher is walking again.
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you like to listen to the song that inspired my walk in the morning rain's Bob Marley's "No women, No Cry" cover by the Fugees > <

Link to learn more about Ebenezer Bassett >

Link to learn more about Mrs. Stanfield > <

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Ode to the teachers of old, I shall rise up for you!

There is this great danger in our public schools today. A danger that has broken down our school house doors. A danger being led by billionaires, CEOs, Profiteers, Policy Makers, Lobby Bought Politicians, Bigots, Sexists, and Racists. A danger that proposes the measure of our nation’s children, teachers, and our public schools is best determined by standardized test scores, and fidelity to rigid benchmark standards written without any sense of justice, humanity, and dignity.

Teachers, shout out a warning across our nation!
Shout it out from every school house window,
Speak it in the union halls,
Speak it on every street corner,
Speak it in every town hall,
Speak it in every city hall,
Speak it in every state legislative house, and
Speak in our nation’s capital.
Their computer-based testing cannot measure the dignity our children. Test scores cannot measure our nation’s teachers. Test scores cannot measures the hopes and dreams of a nation yearning for liberty and justice. State ABC school ratings that rank quality by test scores, merely ignores inequity in their own schools. They ensure injustice remains our status quo.
Their ABCs do not inform us, if justice resides in our nation’s public schools. If their ABCs did, our leadership would not be crying for better test scores, but for better justice.

Justice is an aspiration written into our nation’s soul. It is not some A, B, C, D, or none of the above choice. Justice resides not in our school walls, but in our school hearts. It is something that you come to live, or you come to deny. Fellow teachers, I say high-stakes testing and these so-called school choice education reforms are all about justice denied.

I say to our nation's teacher unions, put JUSTICE into your negotiations platform. Make our platforms stand against high-stakes testing, and school choice without equity scams. We are at a teaching cross-road, we have been at this very same cross-road for nearly 250 years. A cross-road of self denial, of that very last line of our nation's Pledge of Allegiance "With Liberty And Justice For All". Put "Liberty and justice in our negotiations. Demand equity. Strike for equality for all children in our public schools. Walk out the door, demand justice for all children. Trust me, when America's teachers do this, America's parents will walk out with us.

Teachers fight, for  our nation's pledge promise. We don't pledge to a flag, we pledge to the United States of America's promise to stand for liberty and justice for all. A God spoken daily oath, "One Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all". That promise should be rooted in our teaching. It is that promise that keeps us indivisible. It should be written above every school door in the land. It is the promise spoken by our father's fathers, our mother's mothers, by Native peoples, by immigrants, and freed slaves. A promise not yet achieved. But, a promise never doubted, and always strived for. A promise in jeopardy, a promise that in some ways has always been in jeopardy, and it is a teacher's sacred duty to hold America to that promise.

We teachers, do not merely teach children their ABCs, that 1 plus 1 is 2, and the capital of America is the District of Columbia. We are our nation's first responders of that Liberty and Justice promise. That promise is what we teach for, that promise is what we should fight for, and it’s that promise that holds our nation together. Lose sight of that teaching promise, and the nation we pledge to dies. When, we fight for that pledge promise in our public schools? We are fighting for liberty and justice for all children.

These modern day education reform naysayers, call our attention to the trivia. Always demanding more rigor, more grit, higher test scores, and selling us some great fear of the future. Langston Hughes, marked this cross-road in 1935 in the midst of our nation's worst economic depression with his epic poem "Let America Be America". In 1974, nearly some 4 decades in later. Mrs. Stansfield our English teacher made sure we all found that cross-road, studied that cross-road, and understood its relationship to our nation's pledge. She said don't just blindly say the pledge, hold America to it. If we love America, then we should love it enough to hold it to it's promises. We memorized Langston in class, we choral read it in class, we debated it in class, we studied it in the context of the past, in the context of own our times, and believe our generation would achieve it. Each of us took a part to read it aloud. I can still say my choral part today:

" O, let America be America again,
The land that never has been yet,
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine—the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME,

Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,

Must bring back our mighty dream again.
Sure, call me any ugly name you choose,
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives, We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath,
America will be!"

Friends, I have written about Mrs. Stanfield, my African American Honors English teacher. If justice, lives in me today? Then it lives in me, partly because of her. Because of those English and History teachers, who felt duty bound to teach outside the margins of state mandated standards and test based scripted curriculums'. Their Common Core does nothing to hold us to that pledge. My Teachers of old rose up, and did their part to demand America keep that pledge promise. Rise up teachers, swear that sacred oath, Rise up, fight for that promise too long denied.
I swear this oath to my teachers of old,
America will be,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you want to listen to the song that inspired my walk this morning it’s Andra Day’s “Rise Up”