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Friday, November 12, 2021

The boy brave enough to cry is the hero


English teachers teach "Points Of View".

I'm old enough to remember teachers who regularly hit their students. I remember things today's children would not believe.

 An old friend from Grammar School reached out on Facebook, we picked up right where we left off. He said do you remember 5th grade lining up outside school? Our teachers kept us in line until the bell rang. Remember that cruel old Bastard Mr. M? He would tell us boys to toughen up, prepare our arms, and he would punch us. He would hit our arm with all his might. Say don't you dare cry?  

He said he hated every day on that line, but one day. He said I remember that day. He hit me, and I cried; he called me a baby? Everyone laughed, but you called him a F---ing Bastard. And said, how about we all hit you. You put your arm around me and said to his face your not a teacher. You are just evil....then you put your arm out and said, gets your rocks off, Sir. Then all the boys put their arms out... You were brave enough to stand up to him. 

Jesse, strange as it may seem, that day is my only good school day. I read your posts about teaching regularly, never liked any of my elementary school teachers. However, I find great comfort in knowing you are not him. I think I would have enjoyed going to school with teachers like you. 

Finally, he said, remember that day? It ended the punching of arms. That day ended that sicko, and his punching. You did that. 

I said I did that for my brothers. Brothers who deserved real teachers. Besides, you did what we all wanted to do every day. We just didn't have the guts to cry. In my eyes David, you are the hero that ended the punching. You opened our eyes, and every kid and teacher saw him for what he was. Not a teacher, but a bully. 

I have set an empathy compass setting for my teaching. In some ways, Mr. M inspired me to not become another evil bully like him. 

Glad we connected again, and from where I stand, you were the hero who ended the punching,            Jesse, still a kid from the neighborhood

If you want to listen to the tune I listened on my walk in the rain this morning its "No Hard Feeling" by the Avett Brothers. > <

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

My First Professor Had a 6th grade education

Not all teachers teach in classrooms
Nearly 800 pages of Miguel Cervantes and one old man taught me there is more to a book than words and pictures. 

Foolish CEOs, Ed Reformers, and Policymakers dismiss sustained reading in our schools in favor of pacing guides to speed learning up.
If our children are not taught that digging into a book requires stamina and great patience?
How will they fall in love with books? 
Who will teach them that books hold more than words and pictures?
Who will transform them from their ABCs to lifelong readers?

Cervantes calls us.
" Life as it is. I've lived for over 40 years, and I've seen life as it is. Pain. Misery. Cruelty beyond belief. I've heard all the voices of God's noblest creature. Moans from bundles of filth in the street. In Don Quixote, we find the Man of La Mancha, that believer in impossible dreams.
I've been a soldier and a slave. I've seen my comrades fall in battle or die more slowly under the lash in Africa. I've held them in my arms at the final moment. These were men who saw life as it is, yet they died despairing. No glory, no brave last words, only their eyes, filled with confusion, questioning "Why?" I do not think they were asking why they were dying, but why they had ever lived."

Hear Alonso Quijano asking us to join him on a mad quest
 "When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness To surrender dreams - -this may be madness; to seek treasure where there is only trash. Too much sanity may be madness! And maddest of all - to see life as it is and not as it should be!"

I read Miguel Cervantes's Don QuixoteMan of La Mancha with my Grandfather. It took ages, many visits, and it is still one of my most glorious adventures.
He did not think me too young, he did not treat me as a child, he read, I read, we laugh, and in the end, we even shed some beautiful tears.
We stood proud when they could not burn his books of chivalry. Hours and hours, days and days with that Man of La Mancha shaped me into a believer of impossible dreams. Him with his coffee and me with my hot cocoa sitting in his big old sitting room chair, now those times are my lottery. He was my first real professor, that old World War I veteran with only an elementary school education. 

Listen, teachers, parents,  and policymakers?
"I shall impersonate a man. His name is Alonso Quijana, a country squire no longer young.
Being retired, he has much time for books. He studies them from morn till night and often through the night and morn again, and all he reads oppresses him; fills him with indignation at man's murderous ways toward man.
He ponders the problem of how to make better a world where evil brings profit and virtue none at all; where fraud and deceit are mingled with truth and sincerity.
He broods and broods and broods and broods and finally his brains dry up.
He lays down the melancholy burden of sanity and conceives the strangest project ever imagined To become a knight-errant, and sally forth into the world in search of adventures; to mount a crusade; to raise up the weak and those in need. No longer will he be plain Alonso Quijana, but a dauntless knight known as Don Quixote de La Mancha." 

Grandad, I remain your namesake grandson, and forever a Dauntless Knight of de La Mancha,

Little Jesse
AKA Dr. Jesse P. Turner 
CCSU Literacy Center Director 

If you want to listen to the tune that inspired my morning walk today? Its "The Impossible Dream"

"This is my Quest to follow that star, 
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far, 

To fight for the right 
Without question or pause, 
To be willing to march into hell 
For a heavenly cause! 
And I know, if I'll only be true 
To this glorious Quest, 
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm 
When I'm laid to my rest." 

Sunday, October 31, 2021

I'm not studying insurrectionist CRT Hysterics: "For His Truth is Marching On"


America was not discovered,

There is no romantic Gone With The Wind Slavery,

The Cherokee People's Trail of Tears, was not some nature walk,

The Navajo, "Long Walk" was not America at it's best,

The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1888, was not securing our borders, but Racism,
Japanese Interment Camp, were not vacation camps, 2/3 of the interned were American Citizens,

360,222 Union Soldiers died in a Civil War that ended Slavery, they were not killed by good men, 

The Holocaust was real,

Jim Crow, did more than mandate separated water fountains, it led to thousands of Lynchings of innocent Black Americans,

The Labor movement has no socialist agenda, just America's struggle for safety and living wages,

Women's Suffragette were not Hysterics, it was American Women at this best,

Selma's Bloody Assault on Black Peoples Right to vote, was not the only stop on the road to voting rights,

The 1963 White supremacist terrorist bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, that took the lives of four young Black Girls happen on a Sunday,

The Assignations of President John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and Senator Robert Kennedy were attempts to destroy our democracy,

Finally, January 6, 2021 was an attempt to overturn the people's vote, and and assault on our Constitution, and Democracy.

The root of the word History is Greek:"Historia", meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation". It does refer to some sweet cover up of lies that might hurt. History is not some sweet honey, it is something bitter sweet, that goes down hard, and fortifies us from lies.

I refuse to bow down to Insurrectionist Racists,
Dr. Jesse P. Turner
Uniting to Save Our Schools

If you like to listen to the tune that inspire my walk over the mountain this morning its 
the United States Army Field Band performing the "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." >

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Pandemic Teaching and Learning: Should I stay or Should I go?


Teaching and Learning in a Pandemic Crisis,
Teaching and Learning in a Moral Crisis,
Teaching and Learning in a world of haters,
Teaching and learning in budget cuts, upon budget cuts,
Teaching and learning in a world of science deniers,
Teaching and Learning in a world of history deniers,
Teaching and Learning in a world of declining wages, benefits, and respect for teachers.

Teaching and Learning in a time where CEOs and Policy Makers work day and night to reduce our children test scores,
Teaching and Learning in the nation that spends more money to educate our wealthy children than our poor children,
Teaching and Learning in a country refusing to ask Millionaires and Billionaires to pay their fair share.

Teaching and Learning in our nation that is perfectly fine with a School To Prison Pipeline for Black, Brown and Special Education Children,
Teaching and Learning where the once numerous future teacher pools are drying up,
Teaching and Learning during a teacher shortage problem exacerbated tenfold by a mass exodus of Fed Up Retiring Teachers.

Rome is burning, America's commitment to public education is falling far short.
Looking around, some of my best teachers, young and old, are leaving. The number of future teachers is dropping in my courses at the University.
Who Wants to be a teacher in this world?

Just about everyone who can retire at our university, like many other universities, is leaving. Lots of fear going round leave now or watch them reduce your health care benefits. I am losing some of my dearest colleagues.
Should I stay or should I go?

I pull from my well of aspirations that held me strong through decades of teaching.
I remember being young, running around those mean streets, and being fearless. I drink from my well of memories. Father Fitzgerald read a poem once. He read the Lays of Ancient Rome by Thomas Babington Macaulay. He told us to sit down on these church steps. Fellers, this one is long. There once was this Captain on a bridge facing unbeatable foes, a captain whose beloved city those foes wanted to burn.
What was his name, Father?

He was Brave Horatius, Captain of the Gate, and while the lords and nobles of his city could not decide what to do as a massive army stood across the bridge to their beloved city. Hateful vengeful foes demanding their unconditional surrender. Everyone trembled, shook, and call out to their gods to save them.
What did the Captain do, Father?

He called to his brothers of the gate.
“Then out spake brave Horatius,
The Captain of the Gate:
To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than, facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his gods."
He stood on that bridge, held those foes back, and when all looked like it was lost, he call out to burn the bridge behind him. 
Did he live Father?
Yes, he did, and he still lives well.
Fellers, I want you to grow strong, be our brave captains. While others tremble, I expect you all to stand strong. All I have are these poems and stories that fill this well. With them I am invincible. 

Teaching and learning are in crisis.
The Robber Barons, Public Education Haters, and their Mercenaries are standing at our schoolhouse door across the nation. They see profits not children. They demand our Greater Good Sense's unconditional surrender.

I could walk away,
I could run away,
I could sit on that rocker,
I could fish my last days,
I could walk those mountain trails,
Row those rivers I love,
I could live well,
I could leave,
Maybe I should leave?
What would Brave Horatius do?

But, a priest, read a poem once about a brave captain,
Don't you hear Brave Horatius calling?

"Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than, facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his gods."

Who Wants to be a teacher today?
Who wants to stay?
Who is willing to stand on this bridge?

I turn out our literacy Center lights,
Lock the door, and
Walking out,
I read those words on the arch outside our School of Education:
Start With A Dream, Leave With A Future."
I think there are dreams to come, and futures that need protecting. 
Father Fitzgerald, read a poem, etched in our souls, and I am at your gate captain.
I am staying.

Just call me one of Father Fitzgerald’s brave Captains,
Dr. Jesse P. Turner
CCSU Literacy Center Director,
Uniting to Save Our Schools
Proud Badass Teacher
A Captain of the gate

If you wonder what tune did this Walking Man listen to on his walk this morning, its The Clash's "Should I stay or should I go"

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Come Spring, this old school teachers is marching

Friedrich Nietzsche said: “The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”

I jump on no bandwagons,
I pay no homage to Education Reformers who claim to be able to mandate, legislate, reform teaching and learning inequity without fighting to fully fund all public schools,
I refuse to dance to these School Choice without Equity Pied Pipers.

I am an Old School Teacher,
I know where I stand,
I know that the privilege of owning myself requires me to stand up for my students inside the schoolhouse and outside it.

The struggle to Save Our Public Schools begins with the understanding that a Public School System spending more money to educate wealthy children than poor children is immoral.
Immorality should not have a safe haven in our Public Schools.

If fighting inequality and injustice in our public schools is not number one?
You are dancing to that Pied Piper of immoral Education Reform smoke and mirrors.

Our Union Struggles must not only be about ourselves. Our Union Struggle must be a moral one, demanding an equal and quality education for all children.

I stand on moral ground,
I do my best in my classroom,
I fight for children in and out of my schoolhouse.

We Old School Teachers must be more significant than ourselves,
Teachers marched in Selma,
Barbara Henry Taught Ruby Bridges,
She and Ruby owned themselves in a schoolhouse surround by hate.
Like Barbara Henry, hate shall not enter my classroom, my mind, my soul or touch those I teach.

Just call me, an old-time teacher,
A teacher who follows no Pied Piper,
I am going to march this spring testing season,
March against inequality,
March against 1.7 Billion Annual dollars for high-stakes testing, and
March against school choice without equity.
I may march alone,
But, I will be marching in the shadows of greater love.

Most of all, 
I will be my own teacher self,
Dr. Jesse P. Turner
Uniting to Save Our Schools
Badass Teacher  

If you like to listen to the tune that inspired my morning walk its Nahko and Medicine For the People - "Dear Brother"

Friday, October 8, 2021

Teacher Shortage, Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!

"Teacher demand exceeded supply for grades K-12 in the country's public schools by more than 100,000 in 2019 for the first time ever, according to the Learning Policy Institute, a Washington-based education policy think tank that has extensively studied the causes and effects of the teacher shortage." Link to source, worth the read > <

For the first time in years, districts are asking to refer our graduates and saying we are getting no applicants. They are asking for anyone close to certification for interventionists.

Now, Mayors, Governors, Board of Education members, district-level administrators, and Policymakers, help me understand this teacher shortage? Especially district leaders in Black, Brown, and Poor School-districts, where schools are understaffed, under-resourced, and underfunded. A child's learning conditions are teacher-working conditions.

You cut retirement and health benefits,
You offer below-inflation pay increases, or in some cases no increases at all,
You disrespect the professional judgments of your teachers,
You keep increasing class sizes,
You legislate new unfunded mandates time and time again,
You cut art,
You cut music,
You cut playtime,
You fail to staff school libraries,
You buy expensive data tracking systems that dehumanize teaching and learning,
You accelerate learning,
Give Professional Developments on Social Emotional Learning and Restorative Justice without resources, 
You pile more and more demands on teachers,
You ignore that your teachers work 15-30 extra hours a week without pay,
You blame them for low test scores,
You bully your teachers,
You disrespect and bully your teachers.

Now you find yourself surprised that you can't find teachers.
Trust me, the retirements will come quicker, and young teachers are going to leave sooner.
I am not surprised by this teacher shortage.
What surprises me?
Why are districts surprised?

Not in the least bit surprised.
Disappointed yes,
Dr. Jesse P. Turner
Uniting to Save Our Schools
Badass Teachers Association

If you are wondering what inspired my morning walk its Barry Lane's "if you ever had a teacher" 

Thursday, October 7, 2021

The data that really matters to teacher

In our public school system, chasing test score data, we often miss what matters. The plan is to sell parents' never-ending reforms while overlooking the vast inequalities rooted in our public schools. In this world, I find there is the data that matters and the data that really matters.

There is the data that counts and the data that really matters. Some data teachers upload to the cloud, and principals and Politicians love that data. There is, however, the data that really counts to teachers. It is uploaded into our teaching hearts. That heart data is what holds us strong, inspires us, but most of all, it reminds us why we became teachers in the first place.

The data that matters is standing right in front of me.

Myra grade 2: "Dr. Turner, you were right; there is a book for everyone."

Dr. T: "Did you find your perfect book, Myra?"

Myra: Oh, yes, "Too Loud Lily" is about a girl just like me. She is a little too loud, a little too bold, loves to dance, but her heart is golden."

Dr. T: "That does sound like you...Would you read it to the rest of the kids and me?"

Myra: "Of course, Dr. Turner, I have read it over 100,000 times; I can read it with my eyes close. I am going to use my teacher's voice. I am going to a teacher one day. Do you know what kind of teacher I am going to be?"

Myra: "I am going to be a Reading Teacher."

Dr. T: Myra, you just made my day."

See the child, not the test score,
Dr. Jesse P. Turner
CCSU Literacy Center Director
Uniting to Save Our Schools

If you are wondering which song did Dr. Turner listen to on his morning walk today. Its Barry Lane's "More Than a Number" > <

Friday, October 1, 2021

Educational Delusional Reforms are Scams RISE UP!


Dr. Stephen Krashen Reaserher on Langauge Acquisition and  Education Activist said: "The No. 1 obstacle to literacy and learning in the United State, is poverty."

Education reforms come and go. The truth is everything works in Affluent Schools. Now in poor communities, just about every reform fails.  
Imagine giving sick poor patients weaker medicines? Fewer resources and higher ratios of teachers to students and specialized intervention staff, plus less access to art, music, physical education, and sports, is weaker medicine. 
Educational Delusion believes more testing and school choice helps children living in poverty achieve in our public schools.
We need a march on Washington for equity in our public schools, not more delusional education reforms.
Dr. Jesse P. Turner 
Uniting to Save Our Schools

If you like to hear the tune that I Listen to on my morning walk its "Waiting on the world to change"

Friday, September 10, 2021

Achievement Gap my Ass, It is America's Moral Gap


I often hear experts talk about the "Achievement Gap" and pointing to Standardized test scores as proof of massive public school failure. Some blame schools, teachers, parents, and some even the children themselves for not having the rigor it takes to do well in school.
While we might agree about massive failure. I place little faith in standardized data or seek to blame schools, teachers, parents, or children.
As for Rigor, well, that word's root is Rigor Mortis, associated with death and pain. 
Having said I agree with the massive failure of our public school system, but not with who to blame or how to measure it.
I say use real logistical school-based data, class size, the ratio of pupils to the number of counselors, art teachers, music teachers, librarians, access to books, social workers, and specialized support services in a school. The size of their sports programs, the physical condition of their school buildings, and libraries. 
Truth to power moment America. Wealthy schools have smaller ratios to pupils for all the above., and much more. As for Race, well, No big secret people, White Schools also have lower ratios as well. You can measure failure in more meaningful ways besides test scores. 
What are we afraid of? Well, we might discover it is less an achievement gap and more a Moral Failure of a nation not willing to give all our children an equitable, high-quality public education.
Dr. Jesse P. Turner 
Uniting to Save Our Schools
Proud Badass Teacher

If you like to listen to the song that inspired my morning walk today...its Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes "Wake Up Everybody" <

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Be someone's chicken soup person


Ain't no, 16 Tons going to keep me down, Momma. 
"I was born one mornin' when the sun didn't shine,
I picked up my shovel, and I walked to the mine,
I loaded 16 tons of number nine coal
And the straw boss said, 
"Well, a-bless my soul."
Momma always called me her chicken soup boy. She came to call "Chicken Soup Boy" when we were homeless and spending our nights sleeping in the train station. 
One night when we settled down on our usual wooden bench. We were surrounded by all our worldly possessions of one suitcase and two paper bags; tears started running down her face, and she kept apologizing for our circumstances. I looked at her, and said Momma doesn't this bench feel softer tonight? I'm starting to like this place. 
Don't be sorry; it is like Ernie Ford's song 16 tons. 
I'm strong, 
I'm big, and
I am loving these 16 tons. 
She looked at me, wiped her tears, and said you are like chicken soup for a cold. You are warm, good, and fill my heart to the brim. It wasn't easy back then, and to be honest, it was me crying most nights. Things often get worst when you are down. Victor Hugo said, "Misery follows poverty." The poor have been carrying the load for this world for far too long. Somethings break you, and some make you. Momma carried her 16 tons with dignity, grace, and love.
Neither Poverty nor any 16 tons made me. I was made strong by a mother whose love still sustains me. 
We all have loads to carry, woes to bear, and dark nights find daylight. 
Friends, may your load grow lighter, and dignity, grace, and love always lift you up. 
Keep the faith,
Dr. Jesse P. Turner 
AKA Momma's Chicken Soup Boy

If you like to listen to the song that inspired my walk today, its Tennesse Bernie Ford 16 Tons  
We either lift others, or we all fall
We either lift each other, or we all fall 

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Critical Race Theory Hysteria, or just more White Supremacy noise

 Who are these Anti-Critical Race Theory Hysterical running around talking about what is history and what is not?

They are the GOP Legislators who banned Ethnic Studies in the Arizona Public Schools? The United States Supreme Court threw their legislation out. Truth matters in history, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel.
These people think Slavery, Native American studies, Labor, Immigration, Women's Suffrage, Voting Rights, Civil Rights, LGBTQ Rights, and Human Rights should be kept out of America's public schools.
Don't be fooled, this is everyone's history, and this is about a group of racists who only want their narrative told in our public schools. Here is my Brainwaves Anthology interview on Critical Race Theory, it is just one of the dozens coming from scholars of all Races, Faiths, backgrounds. Scholars are committed to social justice and historical truths. Scholars who are giving no ground to White Supremacists who think decide on whose stories get told in our communities, schools, governments, and nation.
Fight the power,
Dr. Jesse P. Turner
Uniting to Save Our Schools. Hope you take the 13 minutes to listen to my take on CRT. You decide White Noise, or.... If you like to listen to the tune inspiring my blog today, it Public Enemy's "Fight The Power" cause they were in the fight from the start people.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Old Bone love


"Love bones"

Dedicated to Jesse Sherman Turner and one Nicholas Cullen 

When I was young once,
When the world was new,
When it turned upside down,
When hate was everywhere on the news,
When assassins killed our heroes.
His old bones were there,
His smile was there,
His words held me strong.

The boy: " Grandfather,

A boy at school's grandfather died,
Please stop growing old,
Please stay right here with me,
Forever Grandfather.


You can't see it now, but
These old bones feel so wonderfully good.
They have been everywhere,
They have loved your grandmother,
Loved your parents,
Loved my sons and daughters,
Seen war and peace,
Mostly these old bones see you,
My namesake grandson. 


Grandfather, who will take me to the library,
Who will teach me how to tend the garden,
Who will teach me to catch ground balls,
Who will call me on the phone, just to talk?


Old bones have magic,
Let me show you,
He placed his hand on my heart,
I am planting my love bones in this heart of yours.
Then he said to go across the room,
Can you feel my love bones?
Go into the kitchen can you feel my love bones,
Go all the way up the stairs,
Go out to the garden,
Run. All the way to the corner, 

Did you feel my love in all those places?


I felt it everywhere.


That is the way old bones work,
They build up love for years, decades, lifetimes,
Those love bones heal,

Old bones love eternal,
Old bone love is magic,
Old bones love transcends life, death, distance.


I have sealed my old love bones in your heart,
No one can take them,
No one can break them,
No one, but you can touch them.


But, can't you stop growing old?


If these bones stopped growing old?
Your bones would not grow stronger,
You would never find the love of your life,
Feel the value of a lifetime of good work,
Travel the world,
Know that peace is better than war,
Love is stronger than hate,
Besides, I have locked my love bones in your heart?
Wherever you go,
Where ever you stand.
Whatever comes your way,
I will be there!

The Boy : 

60 years later,
I can feel those love bones stronger than ever.

The Boy:

I love these old bones:
I love their magic,
Their strength,
Their hope,
Their love, and
I am locking them into the hearts I love.
After all,
Isn't this how young bones grow strong?

Loving these old bones.,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner 

If you want to listen to the tune that inspires these bones, it is Harry Chapin who left this world far too soon, but left the world a lacacy of love bones.

Monday, July 5, 2021

Small Minds Critical Race Theory Haters and Gaelic



I’m trying to understand what it is that frightens America's Critical Race Theory Haters. 

I need to take a journey back to America's 19th-century Boarding Schools for Native Americans.  Horrendous, abusive places where the children were not allowed to speak their native language. Where they were taught that everything Native must be forgotten. More than an assault on language, it was an assault on their history, culture, and everything that made them Native American.

Too close to home…  I journey to Northern Ireland, the land of my grandparents.  In my Grandfather’s immigrant eyes, I see the man who proudly served America in WWI.  He saw his comrades die in those Green Field trenches of France. He grew up in an occupied Ireland, where his language, culture, and history were also outlawed.   Being denied your history, your language your culture causes generational trauma. My grandfather loved America and was proud of his war service. He never said much about England but told his sons that if he could do it all again, he would have stayed and joined his brothers in that 1916 Easter Uprising. 

He referred to Northern Ireland as occupied Ireland. He watched “The Troubles” grow in the North; he was not surprised. “Ireland shall be a nation, whole again” he thought. 

My grandad had died before the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement Treaty between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.  This AIA aimed to help bring an end to The Troubles. My thinking is he would say it still left an occupied north but leaves a path to unification.  His namesake grandson would marry a girl from Ireland.

What does any of that have to do with Critical Race Theory? 

For some 800 years, the Irish paid the price of backing the wrong King.  The cost was to cleanse the Irish of their faith, culture, history, and most importantly, their language.  The English Empire outlawed Irish Language and Culture, hoping the Irish would forget the evil done to them.  The biggest threat isn't always a gun, sometimes the biggest threat is the simple truth. If England one day has to face the cruelty they did to the Irish, it will mean confronting a cruelty done in the name of their much-loved kings and queens. 

The news from Northern Ireland this past fortnight blatantly reveals what the truth can do. 

That 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement has, at last, led to a new ruling.   Finally, here in 2021, the Irish Language (as Gaeilge) can be taught to children in Northern Ireland's Public schools.  All hell is breaking loose in Ulster Defense Communities, leaders are resigning, and uproar is the norm.  Who are these Ulster Defense Communities? They are the people who have oppressed the Irish for 800 years on Irish soil.. You can read a little about it more here; > <

For hundreds of years, public school teachers in Northern Ireland daring to teach the Irish Language were imprisoned, or in modern times dismissed. French, Spanish, German, Mandarin, even Russian, is taught in NI public schools, but the Gaelic (Irish) language has never been an option. 

Why?  Language, research shows us, opens the door to history.  History opens the doors to truths. especially our ugly truths!  

Oppressors, Racists, and Fascists, they all hate historical truths,  because these truths are mirrors of their evil. 

Who are these Haters of Critical Race Theory?

They are the same people who tried to kill language, culture, and identities of Native people here in the US for 500 years,                                                                                                                                They are the same people who justified enslaving free Africans, and dehumanizing them and their descendants for 400 years,                                                                                                             
They are the same people who still today, deny the holocaust, 
They are the same ones who attacked our capital last January 6, 2021., 
I know them, you know them, and history knows them.

History names them!

Every Ethnic Cleanser in History,                                                                                                        
Every Colonizer in History, 
Every Occupier in the World . 

Maya Angelou in her epic Presidential Inaugural poem for Bill Clinton On The Pulse Of Morning tells us: “History, despite its wrenching pain cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage need not be lived again.”

Again, who are these Critical Race Theory haters?

They are the cowards, whose biggest fear is that people will remember them for what they did.
They dread history's mirror exposing their immorality,
But most importantly they are the people who want us to relieve history's wrenching pain, over and over again.  History and truth are their enemies. So history must become our shield, and truth our sword. 

What can teachers do?

We must have the courage to teach through history-wrenching pains.
We need to embrace Critical Race Theory Advocates.
This evening as I write, I am climbing that Hill on High, the one that the newest Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman shared with the world at President Joe Biden's Inauguration.

“ We've seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. And this effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can be periodically delayed, It can never be permanently defeated." ...In this truth, in this faith, we trust. For while we have our eyes on the future,  history has its eyes on us.~ Amanda Gorman

Finally, who Am I?
Just one of the millions of teachers brave enough to climb that "New Hill".

Ready to embrace the new dawn,
Dr. Jesse P. Turner 
Uniting to Save Our Schools. 

Now if you are wondering what inspired my writing today? It was Amanda Gorman youtube video of her January 20, 2021, Inaugural poem. >

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

If you are not asking questions about COVID Funding for Schools? You simply don't care about children!


Last night, I was part of a panel discussing "How to spend the $90 million" coming from the new COVID Relief Funding to the Waterbury Public Schools in Connecticut. 

I wonder how much money other Black, Brown, and Poor school districts are getting? and even more important, "where is that money going?" 

I thought about Art, Music, filling libraries with Culturally Relevant Books, helping after-school lift programs, and building better sports programs. You know, the stuff that motivates, engages, and makes children want to come to school. Then, I remembered... the same people who spend  $2 billion every year on standardized testing ~  they will be in charge of this new funding. 

There was a time before high-stakes test scores defined school success in America. 
A time before test scores were the sole determination of the success of our nation's children. Schools were not perfect. 
Our education leaders, community leaders, and legislators valued poor schools.
They valued them with great art and music programs. 
Schools with impressive libraries, great after-school activities, and sports were viewed as successful schools. 
Today... all that matters are a school's test scores. 

Nearly $2 billion every year goes to standardized testing in America.  None of that $2 billion goes to creating great art/music programs, great libraries, or after-school programs for Black, Brown, Poor, and Special Education children.  Right now, America is providing billions and billions of much-needed COVID relief funds to Black, Brown, and Poor School Districts across the nation, over the next sixty days... "How will they spend this money?" 

If you can't see the damage high-stakes testing is doing in the name of education reform in America ~  You just can't see!
If you don't understand the damage of COVID Relief funding not lifting art, music, after-school programs, libraries, and sports ~ You just don't understand! 
If you are not asking how school districts will spend billions and billions of COVID Relief dollars ~ You really just don't care.

Dr. Jesse P. Turner 
Uniting to Save Our Schools 

If you are wondering what tune inspired my morning walk today? It is the cover of Teach Your Children by Play For Change > <

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Ain't nothing like the real thing, and low expectations


My Grandfather introduced me to real books. In school, all we had were abridged versions of the great books. Looking at my Langauge Art school book, he said they left out all the great stuff.

The man who never had more than a sixth-grade education fought in World War 1, went to the March on Washington, painted New York City Bridges, and built church chapels said: I am not having any of this. Boy, go get my hat, we are going to the library. Like the old Ad for Coke, there ain't nothing like the real thing. 

He died before I would leave for college; I doubt he ever imagined his namesake grandson would become a university professor. However, he started me on the path of being a reader, and open the door to this world’s greatest universities, our libraries. To be perfectly honest, Basel Readers, these books containing abridged versions of real, are mainly used in Black, Brown, and Poor schools; Affluent White Schools always get real books. This difference ensures lower expectations in our public schools for children of color. I attended school in a poor urban district, I would not see a real novel until grade 9. We were given Dickens "Great Expectations," a book I had read years before. Of course, I reread it again and loved talking about it in class. Real books build reading stamina and prepare you for life and your college years, where you are expected to read whole books.  My Grandfather countered the low expectations for reading of my schools with his own high expectations.  

Grandfather knew what the great educators and professors, mentors always knew; you need real books. He inspired me to read great books early on,
Got to have real books and a decent hat,
Dr. Jesse P. Turner
Professor of Literacy, Elementary, and Early Childhood Education

If you like to listen to the tune that inspired my morning walk today? It was 
Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing."

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Dear Pandemic Teachers

Dear Pandemic Teachers, 

President Abraham Lincoln was a man who knew adversity well. Knew both defeat and victory, pain and joy. When reflecting on his 1858 election night lost to Stephen A. Douglas he said:

“The path had been worn hog-back and was slippery. My foot slipped from under me, knocking the other one out of the way, but I recovered myself and lit square, and I said to myself, “It’s a slip and not a fall.”

Two years later he would defeat Douglas, winning the presidency, and become our 16th president. Like Lincoln, our nation’s teachers, have always known adversity, held on, may slip, but never do they fall. 

 While administrators, policymakers, and Governors living on Zoom demand teachers return to full face-to-face school. Often Blaming, shaming, and even bullying classroom teachers for asking for a safe return to school for their students. I refuse to play their "blame teachers” game in the middle of the deadliest pandemic in over 100-years. This is not teaching and learning in normal times, this teaching in a crisis. 

Let me tell the world who our teachers really are? 

They are the ones endlessly writing lessons, 

Preparing to teach in person, virtually, and for many a combination of both,

Working not only their paid contact hours, 

But on average working without pay for an extra 15-20 hours a week,

Making sure their google classrooms work, 

Sharing their screens,

Making sure their mute button is on,

Taking attendance of students in their physical room, and online ones,

Doing all they can to make learning as normal as possible for their students,

Uploading endless demands for more compliance data, 

Adjusting to endless changes in administrative demands, 


Writing weekly progress reports, 

Preparing parent conferences, 

Helping children to follow CDC protocols,

Doing bus duty,

Lunch duty,

Hall duty,

Attending far too many School meetings and professional development sessions, that sometimes blame teachers, 

Constantly demanding more from fatigued and stressed teachers,

Always demanding more.

Who are these pandemic teachers?

They are the ones saving public education,

They are the ones giving everything they have to make this pandemic schooling crisis feel normal. 

They are the glue holding our schools together. 

They are my heroes. 

I refuse to call them anything less.

Dear Teachers,

Please, remember to practice self-care,

Understand too much is being asked of you,

Know that the reason you collapse at the end of every school day, 

You are being abused, by a system that refuses to listen to teachers,

You are exhausted from giving your total self to the children, parents, and schools you teach in,

This abuse must end. 

Who are these Pandemic teachers?

Our tireless heroes teaching in a pandemic crisis, 

Our abused and discarded heroes. 

I wish I had more than words,

I want teachers to know something,

One day this COVID Pandemic will end,

Like President Lincoln, you were never falling, merely slipping a bit, never ever falling,

History shall call you our pandemic teaching heroes,

The ones who never fell, but time and time again rose up to the challenge of teaching in a pandemic crisis. 

Who are you, teachers?

You are our heroes rising, 

Hold on, 

Be extra kind to each other,

Be understanding to each other,

Be the shoulders to cry on for each other, 

Be good to yourselves, 

Be good to your families,

Be good to all, and

Whenever you can find 30 seconds in your school day,

Breathe in deeply, breathe out, and say this is temporary,

If the day gets away from you, 

Forgive yourself,

Like the heroes of old, you may slip, but you will not fall.

Hold on,

COVID is not forever,

Someday, it will be normal again to welcome all at your classroom door,

Minus the masks,

Minus the fear,

one day, 

You  teaching heroes, 

Our tested pandemic veterans, 

You shall welcome every child back to normal schooling.

Who are teachers?

They are our Pandemic Hero Teachers.

With the deepest of respect,

Dr. Jesse P. Turner 

CCSU Literacy Center Director

Uniting to Save Our Schools 

If you like to listen to the tune I listen to on my morning walk today? It was  Josh Groban and Helen Fischer singing I'll Stand by you"