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Monday, June 29, 2020

400-Years of Injustice and Trauma Dehumanizing Public Education numbs all

Coretta Scoot King said: “Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity, and personhood. This sets the stage for further repression and violence that spread all too easily to victimize the next minority group.” 

A friend said that I sound like a broken record sometimes. She said I get it, but to be honest, I do not believe what happens in our schools will ever change. Just being honest Jesse.
I can't remember what my actual reply was, it must have sounded like another Jesse Broken record event. Some honest moments are signals not meant to open discussion but to close it. I get it, I move on, but the discussion continues even if it is with myself. 

My rhetorical reply to being a broken record.  Is recognized this numbness that makes people think nothing will change. Is the greatest weapon bigots have. They don't need to beat us, arrest us, kill us, all they need do is numb us. Foster a belief we are helpless. They win because we do not see ourselves capable of being the change agents we are meant to be.  Marcus Garvey said: 
“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.”
I live and teach in a world that seeks to number my "Sovereign Mind." Every day I work to keep to free my mind from the mental slavery of injustice, hate, and inhumanity. 

My broken record recording: Is this history of 170 plus years of inequity for Black, Brown, and Special Education Children. A history informing me that this inequity and injustice is not random? An account that informs us it is intentional. I am not a broken record. 
I am one of those Garvey voices of a "Sovereign Mind" calling to liberate all. 

Call me a working educator rising above the numbness of this School To Prison Pipeline destroying Black and Brown children. 
The history of inequity in our public schools? History informs us there never was a time of equity for all children, their teachers, and their schools. 
My thinking is racism in our public school system is a never-ending trauma that numbs teachers, parents, and children. What we teachers must come to understand is numbness is not good, it masks pain. Our children are hurting, and the system fosters paralysis harming and abusing Children, their parents, and teachers. I am no broken record. I am one of the many voices of truth asking teachers and parents to rise up.  

Numbing Questions:
When teachers ask why are our Black and Brown parents not speaking up?

When Black, Brown, and Special Education parents ask why are teachers not speaking up? 

When students ask why are adults not doing something about what happens to us in school?
I have heard these questions for nearly 40 teaching years. My teaching and learning exist within in a trauma that turns our public education system into a numbness that harms and destroys Black, Brown,  LGBTQ, and Special Education children. I am not a broken record. I am another voice asking where is the humanity? 

How do parents and teachers rise up?

We rise up in our classrooms, our homes, our communities, our union halls, our town halls, our statehouses, courts, and we vote numb leadership out. Numbness can be seen in the number of voters who did not show up in 2016 at the pollsWe had 231,556,622 eligible voters, 946.9%) who did not vote. Over 110 million voters did not vote. 110 million numb minds needed to end the numbness that empowers White Supremacy and hate. Why, because half of our voters believe their votes would not change anything. Call me the broken record crying be the voters that vote out this numbness hiding how strong we can be. 

Being WOKE is not a broken record, it is our record for liberation:
Being a WOKE teacher to me equals an understanding that numbness hides systemic racism.  If you teach in Black and Brown communities you too are numb. If you teach in White Communities, you are numb. Make no mistake numbness in our schools grew the four police officers that killed Geroge Floyd. Numbness in America's public schools endangers Black Lives.
Fight the power, 
Organize, and 

Voting the only thing that has actually ever changed anything.
VOTE above the NUMBNESS. 

It is our duty as teachers to:
Reject silence and vote out numb leadership. 

Dr. Jesse P. Turner
Moral Monday CT Education Ambassador 
Uniting to Save Our Schools National committee.
Proud member of the


If you like to listen to the song that inspired my morning walk? Its 'Wake Up" by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes 

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Words of Wisdom From A Pirate at 65 Sailing For New Seas

At 65, after some 40 years of teaching of all levels, this pirate knows what is indispensable about schools, learning, and education.

First off, those high-stakes test scores politicians and policymakers are always worried about are meaningless. They are the gates on young minds holding them back. So parents, when they start talking gates, walk away.

Second, teachers, when they say they need to evaluate you based on the high-stakes test scores of your students. Know that they have not one single clue about what is a balanced and fair assessment system is. When they observe you and ask why is your one size fits all Strategic Learning Objective, not on the board? Explain these children I teach are more significant than those tiny bubbles on your test sheets. These young minds are the future, and I refuse to reduce the future to your tiny bubbles.

Teachers do so much more than just teaching children, facts, reading, facts, and figures. Teachers build communities of learners, creating places of safety and security away from home where they lift young minds, make children feel safe, included, and loved. They teach the whole child, lift the whole child, and move the whole child along a continuum of learning that opens new horizons, new vistas worthy of our children.

Children, in our public schools, carry with them generations of inquiring minds, endless hypotheses, the ability to construct new wonders, the power to reflect, infinite hope, love, and the gifts of their ancestors.

They do not need to be ready for school; schools need to create schools that are temples of learning worthy of our children. John Dewy, in 1899 said children come to school with four native impulses 1, to Communicate, 2 to construct, to 3question, and 4 to refine. Over 120 years ago, Dewey already told educators children are born ready to learn. I claim what Dewey knew as my own. Dewey understood Horace Mann adopted the wrong education model. Many pay homage to Horace Mann as the father of our public schools. What most miss is Horace brought the wrong model back to America from Prussia. That model of public education deeply rooted in the Prussian military model of sorting, weighing, and conforming young minds into new servants of the state. I claim not alliance to Horace's model of public education.

Instead, I sail the seas of the public education possibilities that Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote about long ago in 1833.

"Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world
It may be that gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts.

Make weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not yield."

At 65, I know better than to be squeeze into their tiny bubble brain images. I don't live for policymakers, politicians, testing conglomerates, or for-profit entities.

At 65, I play for an audience of children, an audience of the future, an audience of the hopeful, and I do it with a teaching heart full of love.

At 65, I sail Tennyson's newer world seas.

At 65, I play for the only audience that matters, our children.

Let others write to impress the one size fits all conformers, the academics, the policymakers, the legislators, and the data junkies. At 65, I write for those who seek new seas.

Tonight, for the Ana Grace Project, the Good Pirate Captain Reads A Lot is Reading "Superdog The Heart of a Hero" by Caralyn Buehner and illustrated by Mark Buehner.
Why, because this pirate knows the world everyone is waiting will be sitting in our classrooms come the Fall.

See The Child Not The Score,

Dr. Jesse P. Turner

CCSU Literacy Center

AKA Pirate Captain Reads A Lot

If you are wondering what tune this Walking Man Pirate is listening to on his walk over the Avon Mountain its the cover of Jimmy Buffet " A Pirate at 40"  by Jack Johnson, Dave Matthews, and Tim Reynolds  > <