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Saturday, November 23, 2019

This Teacher Shall Honor The Radical Dr. King in 2020 With Action

Dr. Turner is still the same teacher I have always been.
I bring humanity into my classroom,
I reward both small and big learning victories,
I make sure our teachers and children smile coming in, and leaving,
I like getting down on eye level with learners,
I treat all with compassion, dignity, and honor.

Outside that schoolhouse door,
I advocate and fight the political and moral battles for all children, parents, and teachers.
I am a relentless fighter for equity and justice for all.
Outside my classroom door,
I am Jesse The Walking Man Turner,
Like those minute men of old,
I am always:
Ready to march,
Speak the truth,
Write the truth,
Testify the truth,
Stand up for the truth.

None of this is new to me,
This has been the story of my whole teaching life,
Come April 3, 2020,
I shall walk for equity in Connecticut,
In the state whose Supreme Court ruled our state is not responsible to provide equity to all our children.
A state whose Black, Brown, Poor, and Special Education Children have never known equity in our public schools.
I am walking that 12 miles from our state's first teachers' college CCSU to our state's Legislative Office Building for our children, our teachers, and our public schools.

What I do there at that LOB on April 3, 2020?
I will honor the memory of our nation's dreamer,
That dreamer who dreamed the dream,
That Radical for justice,
That Radical for love,
That radical for hope,
I shall honor Dr. Martin Luther King's memory of that Radical King who walked for justice everyday.

Come April 3, 2020, I shall walk 12 miles for equity,
It is not a long walk,
It should take me about three hours,
Like Joshua at Walls of Jericho,
I shall blow my horn of truth,
Like Joshua,
Like Dr. King,
I know truth matters,
I know marching matters.

Come April 4, 2020, I shall hold an Equity Now Education Salon at Central Connecticut State University,

Because that Radical King called me to go up that mountain.
I understand that silence and apathy reject the cornerstone of our nation's dreamer dream of liberty and justice for all,
I shall carry,
My Poor Peoples Campaign flag for justice,
My Bullhorn for truth, and
I shall honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. legacy on the 52nd anniversary of his assassination in the only way that matters,
I shall reject silence,
I shall reject apathy,
I shall march,
I shall speak,
I shall act for equity and justice,
I shall do with love,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

Got my walking shoes on people

If you like to listen to the tune that I listen to on my morning walk to today...its "Up To The Moutain" by Patty Griffin

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Chelsea's Charity one 10 year old Black Girl reminds us that ART MATTERS?

My purpose is not to get religious in my blog today, but to pint out that truth being spoken by children is as old as it gets. We find in the scriptures Matthew 21:15 and 16 the following
The chief priests and scribes were indignant when they saw the wonders He performed and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David!. Jesus answered have you never read? From the mouths of children and infants, you have ordained praise."

We also have this from former United States Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley:

“I believe arts education in music, theater, dance, and visual arts is one of the most creative ways we have to find the gold that is buried just beneath the surface. They (children) have an enthusiasm for life a spark of creativity, and vivid imaginations that need training – training that prepares them to become confident young men and women.”

Our Literacy Center Kids are getting excited about Chelsea Art 4 Kids visit on 12/2/19. It is our 2019 CCSU Literacy Center A-List Happening Event. Thank you, Ana Grace Project, ( for making this happen. School of Education Dean Kim Kostelis, our Social Emotional Learning Committee are sponsors as well, ( 

We have a great event planned, beginning with meet and greet Chelsea Phaire in our Literacy Center, then making some sign for our silent march 4 Art over to the CCSU Constitution Room for Chelsea's art lesson. To have some cookies, and to hear about this amazing young 10-year-old philanthropist who gathers brand new art supplies in kits to send to children without their own art supplies in their homes.

There is another narrative here besides Art 4 kids. Chelsea has a strong Black Mother and Father, and her whole family to help her make this world a better place for others.  This is a Black Narrative too seldom shared on mainstream media. These are the narratives that drive my view of Black Families. Not broken, not weak, but amazingly United, Strong and Beautiful. In two weeks Central Connecticut State University Ana Grace Project, SEPS and our Literacy Center will highlight one of those beautiful Black Family narratives. Narratives I have known since I was a child growing up in a diverse community. If you don't know this kind of Black narrative, then my thinking is you have never been invited to a large Black Family gathering of multiple generations from all corners of America? The Family has always been strong in Black America.

Over the past 35 years, I have found so many children in our public schools with great ideas about how to help others. But our focus on narrow standards and testing almost always seem to let those great ideas fade away. Imagine a world where public schools help our children put foundations under those dreams? In two weeks' time, we are going to put front and center an amazing young philanthropist 10-year-old Black Girl. Why because of Art Matters! So do the dreams and hopes of children who want to start making this world a better place right now. Children don't want to wait until they grow up to make our world a better place. They want to start today. 
Children get the fact that everyone needs art, and art needs to be in their schools. They get the idea that art is far more important than testing. Children can find ways to improve our world. All we need do is listen to them.

Our CCSU dignitaries are coming and helping to promote this Art 4 Kids Event, and hopefully, some press will come to listen, see, and learn about a different narrative, the kind that seldom makes the evening news.

This is the time of the semester where parents always come over to talk to me about our program here. They always say my child loves coming here, everything makes sense to them, thank you...I always say thank you for sharing your amazingly talented child with us. Please come back. There is no secret to what we do, but the center of our work puts children first, meets the child where they are at, and deeply honors their right to be a child. Something else our parents understand that we need more art, more music, more dance, more play, in our public schools.

Our children understand something far too many of our policymakers and legislators forget, art matters more than testing, and art needs to be a part of every school day. So, we are adding a silent march for art to our Art 4 Kids event on 12/2/19. We are already making our signs for our march for art before Chelsea's event. Chelsea, our children, parents, and teachers will join in solidarity for ART, and then enjoy Chelsea Phaire's art lesson. All will leave with an art kit of their own thanks to the Ana Grace Project.  Children understand that art matters.
Every Teacher, school social worker, school counselor, and school psychologist understand that art heals.

How policymakers, legislators, and education reformers are not spending billions and billions to put the arts front and center in our schools is beyond me. The saddest tragedy about the Education Reforms of the past 20 years is they have often pushed art out of the lives of Black, Brown, Poor and Special Education Children in our public schools, and replaced it with test prep.
Art matters,
Dr. Turner CCSU Literacy Center Director
The narrative of Art and doing good for others is worth fighting for!

If you like to listen to the song that inspired my walk this morning over the Avon Mountain its Don Mclean's "Vicent Starry, Story Night"


Friday, November 15, 2019

Hold On, Got my teacher eye on the prize Selma 2020

Hold on, Got my eye on the prize Selma 2020 

I was talking about going to Selma for the Jubilee in the coffee shop with an old friend.
She said what does going to Selma do exactly?
I said it puts my eyes on the prize,
It puts me right with my teaching soul.

She said, but what does it really change?
I said friend,
It changes me,
It lifts me,
It stirs my soul,
It sets me right,
It puts me in that place where righteousness marched,
It puts me on that sacred Edmund Pettus Bridge, and
That helps me hold on.

Hold on BATs,
Hold on Teachers,
Hold on Children,
Hold on Parents.

"Paul and Silas in jail
Had no money to go their bail
Keep your eyes on the prize
Hold on"

Billionaires sipping champagne in Mar-a-Lago,
Tech Billionaires seeking profit margins from the souls of children,
Policymakers can't stop saying yes to the test,
Legislators counting those campaign contributions falling from that Wall Street Education Reform Money Tree,
They'll run that School To Prison Pipeline until we stop them.

"Paul and Silas thought they was lost
Dungeon shook and the chains come off
Keep your eyes on the prize
Hold on."

You know me,
I'm the Walking Man,
Got my feet to the ground,
Got my heart set on ending that School To Prison Pipeline,
Hold on all you BATs,
Hold on sisters and brothers,
Hold on AFT,
Hold on NEA,
Got my eye on the prize.

Gonna fly that plane in March down to Selma,
Gonna put these feet a walking,
Hold on teachers,
Hold on children,
hold on parents.

Ain't no Billionaires gonna turn me around,
Ain't no Tech Billionaires gonna turn me around,
Wall Steet can't turn me around,
Ain't no in those Wall Street Pocket Legislators gonna turn me around.

"I got my hand on the gospel plow
Won't take nothing for my journey now
Keep your eyes on the prize
Hold on"

Got my eye on the prize,
Got my ticket,
Don't know where I'll sleep,
But I got two feet,
Got two good eyes
I see that prize.
Equity and justice for every child and every school in the land.

"The one thing we did was right
Was the day we started to fight
Keep your eyes on the prize
Hold on"

Hold on Children,
Hold on Teachers,
Hold on parents,
This Walking Man got two good feet made for marching,
Got his eye on the prize,
Hold on.

Hold on teachers,
Hold on children,
Hold on Parents,
These eyes on Selma 2020,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

Just in case you like to listen to the song that inspire my walk over the Avon Mountain today...its Bruce Springsteen's cover of Got My Eye On The Prize

We are the guards at our prison gate of self ignorance

It is a new day, and this day like every day today offers us another chance to learn and grow.
Thich Nhat Hanh the Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist, founder of the Plum Village Tradition, and author of over 100 books said:
"The real power of the Buddha was that he had so much love. He saw people trapped in their notions of small separate self, feeling guilty or proud of that self, and he offered revolutionary teachings that resounded like a lion's roar, like a great rising tide, helping people to wake up and break free from the prison of ignorance."
I love how he dismantles the notion of the separate self, and the need to wake up, and free ourselves from that prison of self. That notion of breaking free of our private self, and waking up speaks deeply to my sense of faith. It reminds of another quote from that Great Soul Marcus Garvey:
“We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery, for though others may free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind. Mind is our only ruler; sovereign.”

There is so much to learn from others, and all we really need do is open that self prison of ignorance gate...Remember we are the only guards at that gate, and none, but ourselves can free our minds.

Peace, Love, Joy, and may hope always follow you all the days of your life,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you like to listen to the song that inspired my walk this morning it Leon Bridges cover of that Sam Cooke song "River" 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Children are not failing you are failing them!

An interesting conversation, I had last week with an Ed Consultant sharing Connecticut Smarter Balance Test Scores "I am tired of the evil eye looks from teachers at my PDs. I am only sharing the data that shows children are failing. They need to get over it and start doing something different."

My reply: Perhaps they are wondering when policymakers, CEOs, and legislators are going to catch on, It is not the children who are failing. It is 20 years of your policies that are failing! Maybe those eyes are wondering you are going to give up on those old and failing policies. Perhaps we are all wondering when you realize your status quo is failing our children.
Maybe our nation's policymakers need to get over it and start doing something different. Perhaps giving teachers in Black and Brown schools the same resources and supports they give to those White Affluent schools?
Not one of us should be satisfied in a system that gives more to wealthy schools than to poor schools.
For 170 plus years the data has shown wealthy schools not only score higher on standardized tests, but they are funded better. Big Hint America, Black and Brown children are not falling through the cracks, inequity is pushing them through your immoral status quo cracks. 

I have often wondered what would happen if we switched this status quo funding around.
What if we gave Black, Brown, and Poor schools all the bells and whistles?
What if we flooded poor schools with art, music, librarians, social workers, counselors, play, and project-based learning?
What would happen if we took away recess, Physical education, art, music, librarians, counselors, and project learning from wealthy White Schools?
Switch it around, and let us see whose scores would be rising, and which children would be having behavioral issues.
But, better yet do the right thing. Give every school the resources and supports needed to reach all children.
Equity is not some children get more, and others less.
Equity is not school choice policies that demand poor schools compete against each other for limited resources. You can't blame children, parents, teachers, and public schools for this School To Prison Pipeline endorse and supported by our courts, our legislators, and racists for 170 years and counting.

Equity is giving every child what they need to succeed. I have not met policymakers fighting for genuine equity. It always ends being about test scores and standards without equity.
Any education system that gives more to some, and less to others. Is IMMORAL and CORRUPT.

If you are not fighting it, then you are part of the problem,
Dr. Jesse P. Turner Education Ambassador Moral Monday Connecticut 

If you like to listen to the song that inspired my morning walk today its Cosby, Still, and Nash cover of Teach Your Children by Play for Change

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Teachers Don't Believe The Hype

Teachers don't believe the hype!

Some days,
I can't see hope,
Some days,
I can't feel hope,
Some days,
I can't even walk.

On those days, I think about
These policymakers, CEOs, and Education Deformers trying to convince teachers that we need more rigor, grit, tougher standards, and testing to help the children we teach.

Do not be fooled, teachers who make a different lead with love, compassion, and humanity, not grit.

On these days,
I get up,
Get out of bed,
And I think of the children and teachers I work with.
They lift me,
They inspire,
They compel me to bring humanity into my classroom.

Today is not one of those days without hope.
Today I shall begin reflecting on Leo Tolstoy's Short Story "Three Questions"
There was a king who wanted to be good. It occurred to that king who wanted to be good,
He needed to know the answer to three questions:
A good king needs to know what is the right time,
Needs to know who were the right people to listen to, and above all,
Know what is the most important thing to do,
Such a king would be wise, just, and would always make the right decision.

Tolstoy reminds me as long as I understand that teaching is about
1. Knowing the right time is when we are next to the ones we teach, 
2. Caring enough to deeply listen to the ones next to us,
3. The most important thing to do is always do the right thing for the ones we teach.

Tolstoy reminds Me,
I am a teacher,
Teachers are never hopeless,
Teachers need the right questions much more than they need the answers.
Today, I shall reject the hype of standards and testing will save our children,
I shall teach with the only standards that have ever really mattered in the classroom,
Love, and
Now, I am ready to teach,
Dr. Jesse P. Turner
Moral Monday Connecticut Education Ambassador

I teach children, not data! 

If you want to know what song inspired my morning walk today...its Barry Lane "More Than A Number"