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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Education Reform Should Not Equal More Education Stupid

Collecting data, for the sake of collecting data. It is time-consuming, expensive, and useless if that data does not come with resources to address concerns and issues. Data without resources and equity is just stupid.

Can someone please tell our policymakers and legislators that chasing data without the serious questioning the failure of pushing high-stakes testing and standards without addressing inequity is not education reform, but education stupid.

Imagine if leadership started listening to children, teachers, and parents rather than calling up Think Tanks and CEOs?  Data without resources is the status quo of the same old old inequity dodges of the past.

Here is the link and quote from USA article on the decline of 4th and Eight Grade Scores from 2017 to 2019 article that demonstrates in my professional view a status quo of data ignorance, and policy stupid.
"Over the long term in reading, the lowest-performing students, those readers who struggle the most have made no progress from the first NAEP administration almost 30 years ago."
I have come to accept the chase for equity and justice for Black, Brown, Special Education, and Poor Children in our public schools has been elusive, but intentional. After 170 plus years of inequity in our public school system. SIMPLE TRUTH: Any policymaker, legislator, or researcher claiming we need more data is part of the problem not the solution. We don't need CEOs, Billionaires, or Think Tanks to give us the answers. Been there did that for 4 decades now. America's Black, Brown, Special Education and Poor Children need the same resources America's wealthy schools have. After 170 and counting years anything less is systemic racism 101.

If you are wondering why teachers across America are striking? My thinking is they have grown weary of more stupid,.
A change is gonna come,
Dr. Jesse P. Turner Moral Monday Connecticut Education Ambassador

If you want to listen to the song that inspired my morning walk its the cover of Sam Cookes " A Change is Gonna Come" by Brain Owens and Thomas Owens.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Before the activist there was the teacher

Most people know me as Dr. Jesse P. Turner CCSU Literacy Center Director or as Jesse The Walking Man Turner an education activist.
But, before these things, there was a teacher who loved his students with all his heart. Here is a link to my dissertation that tells the story that drives my work today. Here is your chance to look inside the mind of my learning and teaching journey at one of the most rewarding teaching times in my career. All roads in writing lead us to Donald Graves. He often reminded us sharing your writing is akin to getting naked in front of everyone....a teacher who asks others to write but does not write is like a fully dressed person in a nudist colony. So today I stand naked with my teaching story and images from the journey that made this teacher become an activist. It's a long read, but skip around, peek in here or there, or maybe read it all.
Standing naked inside
 my teaching mind,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner
Here is the link to the teacher before he became an education activist link 
Some images from my days in the desert and on the masas of Arizona with the best students any teacher could ever have. 

If you like to listen to the song that inspired my walk on the Avon Mountain this morning its Robbie Robertson's "Ghost Dance"

Monday, October 28, 2019

Dear Mr. President, no one is above the law

Dear  Mr. President, you are not above the law.

President Teddy Roosevelt had this to say about the law: "No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it."
Today, President Trump is the speaker at the 2019 International Association of Chiefs of Police's annual conference in Chicago. I wonder what they think? Is the president above the law as Trump's lawyers have often claimed?
It is clear where Trump and his lawyers stand: "It remains our position that the President's actions here, by virtue of his position as the chief law enforcement officer could neither constitutionally nor legally constitute obstruction because that would amount to him obstructing himself, and that he could, if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired." ~ President Trump Legal Team in their 2018 letter to the NY Times to Robert Mueller.
This is what the Impeachment Process is all about in 2019. In President Teddy Roosevelt's it was clear at the turn of the 20th century that no one is above the law. In 2019 it comes down to is the president above the law?
Last week in court President Trump lawyers fighting the efforts to obtain his tax returns. One of his lawyers representing him in court argued that "he didn’t need to release them because he will be immune from any prosecution until he leaves office—even if he shot someone on New York City’s Fifth Avenue (echoing Trump’s 2016 comment that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose support)." ~ Attorney for the President William Consovoy.
No matter how his supporters spin it, these impeachment proceedings are about if one man is above the law.
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you like to listen to the tune that inspired my walk this morning its The Honey Drippers "Impeach The President"

Friday, October 25, 2019

I've been to the mountaintop teachers, trust me it is all we dreamed

My Thursday class is for certified Literacy Specialists who have already completed their masters. These specialists are completing an extremely rigorous program with demanding practicum assignments to become Literacy Consultants. Every assignment is authentic and happens in real-world time. You can't fake it.  It is a rigorous two-part course, requiring massive amounts of documentation and extensive reflections link to the International Literacy Association Standards for Advance Literacy Supervisors.

I teach part one, and my colleague Dr. Valerie teaches the other part. We work well together, and our students trust us. We love teaching this course.

Our specialists in the course are confident, able, and ready to learn. I teach the course in a workshop mold, there are mini-lessons, lots of conferring, and plenty of authentic of in class going on. It resembles more of a shared art studio, where everyone is painting and working together. It closely resembles Donal Graves's notion of his Writing Workshop atmosphere. At this point in the semester it is a genuine learning community. Some of the work is about planning the tasks because some of them will take more than one semester to actually implement. A great deal of it requires their district and school approval, and even then they need to fit on the district timeline not ours. So some students have to carry work over to the second course. We discuss all of this together, and we work it out together. My nickname is the captain because I begin every semester with the line I am like a good captain, I bring everyone home to port. No one is cast adrift on my watch. 

At the end of class, a few students stay after class a bit. Usually, students who have taken classes in our Department over the years. They began talking about faculty who retired or who passed away. Who is still here, and who is gone. It was all good stuff.

Then one looked at me, and ask when are you planning on retiring Dr. Turner. I said when I am no longer relevant. I know there that time will come, but I have this legacy mission going on in my mind. It is about being a voice of hope, a role model for advocacy and activism. These are tough times for teachers and children. I will not leave until victory is in sight. It is a sort of Dr. King thing going on with me. Dr. King said this on the night before he died:
“But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop … I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land”

So, we ended with Dr. Turner retires when teachers and children see the promised land of equity and justice in our public schools. If I die, before that day, know that I'll be there waiting for you. I won't fall, or tire, I am an old school teacher build to go the distance.

Then we walked out of the building together, knowing the mission is strong, and we all have a role in it,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you like to hear the song that inspired my morning walk today...its Patty Griffin's "Up To The Mountain" 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Dear Mr. President

In the spirit of one of my greatest heroes, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois who pen public letters to President Wilson. I pick up that public letter writing here.

Dear Mr. President, during this booming economy. While giving billionaires more tax breaks, and in between all this talk about your hotels being the most beautiful in the world. Perhaps you might want to pay attention to what is happening in our public schools?
You might consider calling Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos over to the White House to give you a report on the status of public education in America.
Something Secretary DeVos may not have mentioned to you. A majority of states are spending less on their public schools than before the 2007 recession. 29 States spend less on schools than before the 2007/8 recession. Perhaps you can ask Secretary DeVos to travel to those 29 states and explain to them that spending less on our public schools is an economic catastrophe in the making.
May I make a suggestion, take back those tax breaks, and use those tax revenues to help our struggling schools.
Recently I met a man on the train from Philadelphia to Hartford CT. He asked me what I did for a living. I explained I was an educator. Somehow the conversation came around to a lack of investment in our public schools. I mention that 29 states are spending less these days. I quoted Horace Mann: "Money for schools now, or for prisons later". It turned out he worked for a firm that runs private prisons. He looked me in the eye. Then he said let me say this: "Profits are profits, and prisons are money makers, and schools are money losers...Trust me, sir, there are some on Wall Street and in government who are cheering on more prisons." His words were blunt, but they were also honest. Our conversation ended when he got off at the New York City stop. Of course, his words were eye-opening to say the least.
You might also suggest Secretary DeVos visit Chicago where the teachers are on strike not over wages, but for Chicago's children. She might begin a conversation there with students, teachers, and parents. Since she has never worked in a public school and lacks any real experience working with public school teachers, students, and parents my thinking is Chicago would make a perfect place to begin her studies.

Often I find myself wondering what would 
In the spirit of W.E.B Du Bois would be writing if he were here with us today. Then, I realize his words, his works, and his spirit walks with me, and millions of others every day.  I too am a man of letters to presidents, I have written to President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, and you. It's not political, it's moral, it's not Blue vs Red. It's not personal, it's what is just and fair for all.  I owe it to that other letter writer, and to that not yet kept pledge line "With Liberty and Justice for all." I have no doubt that someday that unkept pledge shall become real, and I will have no need to write letters to my presidents. 
May I make one more suggestion? Perhaps your cabinet and Secretary DeVos might consider reading and studying Michelle Alexander's book "The New Jim Crow and the school-to-prison pipeline."

Trust me, more prisons will not make America Great Again.
Dr. Jesse P. Turner
Moral Monday Connecticut Education Ambassador 

If you are interested in listening to the song that inspired my morning walk today it's Buffalo Springfield's " For What It's Worth"

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

I stand in the shadows of love for these Fighting Chicago Teachers

In August 63 in DC,
At the age of 8 years old,
I march with my grandfather
Heard the Dreamer's dream.
At the age of 10,
My father lifted his hand to strike my mother,
At 10 years old, I took the blow.

At the age of 11 years old my mother and I homeless and hungry,
At the age of 12 years old a teacher intervenes, and my older sister steps in,
At the age of 13 years old, I was back on track,
Maslow's hierarchy in place for the 6,
By 18 years old my mother and I had a place of our own,
Smarter and wiser at a younger age,
I was University-bound,

Took a little longer than most,
A rising star, bound for glory.  
At 25, I entered my first classroom,
At 25, I found my purpose.
At 28 years old I married Carolyn Cullen,
At 33 Erin Beth was born, I cut the core securing her in my heart until I am no more.
At 51 I earned that Ph.D.,
At 64, the fire stills burns,
The mission remains strong,
The load may be heavy,
If you think I can't carry this load?
Then you really don't know this teacher.
If you think teachers don't carry every moment into their classrooms?Then you don't know anything about teachers.
If you think teachers bow down to standards and data points?
Then you don't know anything about teachers.
These Ed Reformers, Ed Scammers, Make a buck CEOs, have no idea about what teachers carry with them into their classrooms.
If you think these Chicago Teachers can't carry the children they teach?
Then you don't know Chicago Teachers.
Teachers carry it all, it's what guides every lesson,
It's what gives them strength,
It's what they carry that makes them fighting teachers.
In October 2019, I stand with these Fighting Chicago Teachers,
I stand with them until I can stand no more.
Shout on every street corner,
Tell it on every mountaintop,
I stand with my rank and file sisters and brothers in Chicago,

Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you want to listen to the song that inspired my walk this morning its bill Withers Lean On Me.