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Thursday, September 28, 2023

How does America demonstrate our love of children color in our schools?


Maya Angelou said: “If you're for the right thing, you do it without thinking.” 
(I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings)

No matter what you hear, Literacy is complicated, it includes essential skills, but so much more. 
At our Central Literacy Center, we meet children where they are, follow the data, and work hard to create a deep sense of caring. 

Every child receives one-to-one tutoring from a fully certified teacher here. Our children come from different school districts, some can have this level of support at their local public schools, but most attend schools that lack the funds to do this. Caring requires funding and resources. 
What is not complex is that Wealthy predominantly white schools have the necessary funding and renounces needed, and children attending schools in communities of color seldom have the funds or resources needed. 

We can't blame poor school districts or their teachers. We can blame America the richest nation in the world whose school funding formula supports inequality. Our children's learning conditions are their teacher's working conditions. We cannot blame children, families, or teachers who attend or work in underfunded and under-resourced schools. 

Nel Noddings: American feminist, educationalist, and philosopher best known for her work in the philosophy of education said: “My contention is, first, that we should want more from our educational efforts than adequate academic achievement and, second, that we will not achieve even that meager success unless our children believe that they themselves are cared for and learn to care for others. What is an America that spends roughly 23 billion dollars every year on predominately wealthy white schools than on poor schools in communities of color? It certainly isn’t that we care for all America's children! 

I know why caged birds sing,
Dr. Jesse P. Turner 
Central Literacy Center Director

If you like to listen to what inspired me it is TRUTH. link for a clip of me talking about inequity in our schools on Brainwaves Anthologies on YouTube I am tired of reading wars that imagine that inequality, systemic racism, and lack of funding does not matter.
> <

I am the broken record of truth in our public schools 

Sunday, September 24, 2023

I choose to not get on your Ed Reform Merry Go Round

When education reformers, policymakers, and Wall Street say choice, read between the lines. For they have already made a choice. To place profits before our children. 

The Merry-Go-Round of school reform money tree shouts:

New tests, 
Charter Schools,
Magnet Schools,
State takeovers,
Google classrooms,
Chrome books,
Drive-by-teacher alternative programs,
New Rigorous Standards, 
New Fail Proof Curriculums.

Blame everyone,
Except those making hundreds of billions of dollars running the Merry-Go-Round.

Look everywhere but at those making profits, giving campaign contributions, and sweet jobs to family and political allies,
They love the teacher blamers,
Children are falling because teachers didn’t teach them right,
Don’t worry parents for a few billion we can fix it. 

Time to Look behind that great OZ Curtain,
Where we discover rich white kids always get more,
Black, Brown, Poor, and Special children get less.
Much, much, much less,
23 Billion dollars every year.

Now these Ed Refromers want teachers to take sides in their reading wars.
I can hear that cash register of a status quo ringing,
A school-to-prison pipeline that profits from 5 until death.

How about we do something different?
Children, Teachers, and Parents shout ENOUGH,

I have an idea, and it won't cost a penny more.
We can take that 23 Billion Dollars extra spent annually on Wealthy Predominately White Schools, and spend it on our children in our poor school districts. You know the children who America has given less to for over 170 years.

It's time to close their merry-go-round down.

If you like to listen to the tune that inspired my blog today its Adrea Day's "Rise Up" > <

Friday, September 22, 2023

Teaching is my calling, and so is my activism


As an academic, my articles and chapters are seldom read. As an activist, my blog reaches thousands every month. My activist message is simple, all I ever wanted to do is teach, but injustice got in my way. 

I find myself fighting inequity and injustice in our public schools has become my main focus. This is something I never imagined when I first entered into the profession. I naively thought research mattered more than my activism. 

Thankfully, I was an activist before I became a teacher. It is this endless activist well that enables me to teach these days. Words are not enough to win this battle, but they do help.

I am an Old School Teacher,

I teach,

I march,

I stand up,       

I speak up,

I put my body on the picket line,

I turn up,

I reject apathy and silence,

I stand up for the rights of all in and out of my classroom,

I am inspired by the thousands who read,

I am Dr. Jesse P. Turner the Walking Man

Uniting to Save Our Schools

Can't be silenced Badass Teacher

If you like to listen to the song that inspires my blog this morning at 5:am its John Legend's "Preach" > <

Thursday, September 21, 2023

I know why they call it the school to prison pipeline

 I know why they call it the school-to-prison pipeline.

One of the hardest realities as Director of our Central Literacy Center is seeing the vast inequality of specialized services children receive. Children from affluent predominately white school districts have an abundance of specialized Tier 3, (one-to-one) support services. These children are easy to help, and often just need an extra push. In our center, every struggling receives the same level of support, one-on-one with a certified teacher twice a week. Equity is real here. Children come from surrounding communities, some from poor ones, and others from wealthy ones. No one pays anything, actually, our teachers pay 6000 dollars to complete their final 6 credits for their advance degree to become a Literacy Specialist. They provide services equivalent to 6000 dollars free to two children for 15 weeks. That equity is not the reality for Connecticut Public Schools.

Now, our children from poor predominately communities of color wait years for specialized services, and seldom if ever get those desperately needing one-to-one services. This places them far behind their peers. This is heartbreaking, unfair, and a direct result of inequality and not fully funding our public schools.

This is not acceptable, spending 23 billion dollars more On wealthy predominately white schools every year is immoral.

Enough is enough education reform mumble jumbo from policymakers and legislators, it is these vast inequities that are holding our children in communities of color back. This fault cannot be placed upon our teachers or our poor school districts.

Let me call out whose feet this blame can be placed on, a state that refuses to take responsibility for a school funding formula that fails any equity smell test. I call this out as blatant RACISM. Vast inequality in the richest state in the union is morally UNACCEPTABLE. Trust me this is not just Connecticut, this is all 50 states. How many years must past before Black, Brown, Poor and Special Education Children are given an equal chance? The answer is blowing in the wind.

I reject silence and indifference,
Dr. Jesse P. Turner
Central Literacy Center Director If you like to listen to the tune that inspired today's blog...its the cover of "Blowing in the Wind' by Peter, Paul and Mary. > <

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Hispanic Heritage is for everyone


Hispanic Heritage is for everyone
Mrs. Sanchez my Spanish teacher is high school brought the life of Cesar Chavez to us. She taught Spanish, but the world was her textbook. While we were learning our Spanish, we were also learning about great contributions to art, literature, science, Human Rights, and music. she connected the dots of human rights across all the continents. She wanted us to see the beauty of language and of the people who speak it. Some of the cool kids thought she was corny, me I knew better, she was amazing. I was blessed with incredible teachers across all subject areas. 

I knew "Sí se puede", before President Obama ran for office, and so did he. Cesar, taught President Obama and Dr. Turner, that peaceful action can breakdown walls of injustice; Yes, it can be done.

Our teachers taught us about Cesar Chavez. I learned that in 1966 he walked with strikers on a 340-mile march from Delano to Sacramento to bring awareness to the cause of farmworkers. They taught about every Civil Rights activist that ever lived, the made sure we saw the connections between standing up for right and education. It was never about a job; it was always much bigger.

So, decades later in 2010, influenced by Cesar Chavez's walk, I decided to walk 400 miles from Connecticut to Washington DC to bring awareness to abusive high-stakes testing in our public schools. In 2015, I would walk it again protesting high-stakes testing and inequality in our public schools. 

Our teachers taught us about Civil Rights Activists like Cesar Chavez hoping those stories would inspire our own stories. They taught us there is no American History without, Hispanic Heritage, Black History, Women's History, Immigrations and Labor. America's story is all our stories. American History is all our stories, and everyday all our stories are relevant. 

Guess what teachers teaching students about Civil Right? 
Works,                                                                                                                                                            Dr. Jesse P. Turner
Central Literacy Center Director

Just in case you like to listen to the song that moved me today...its Barry Lane's Jesse Turner is a walking man trip down memory lane 2015 400 miles to DC

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Teachers know where the gold is!


It is important to follow the data. However, there is the data that matters, and there is the data that really matters. The data that policymakers, administrators, and the media consider important is important. However, the data that really matters comes from teachers who spend 5 days a week in the presence of the children they teach. There are only so many hours in a school day. So much is demanded of teachers that does not fit within the school day. This is one of the reasons we are losing young teachers. Too much to do with not enough time to do it. 

Policymakers and education reformers have our teachers using expensive and time-consuming online data collecting tools. Our teachers are chasing data, they already know. When people ask me who knows a child best. I always say the people closest to them, their parents, and teachers. 

Rather than have our teachers following their authentic real time observational data and intuitive understandings of the children they teach. We force them to engage in time consuming repetitious data, that has them second guessing what they already know. 

From my work with classroom teachers, this online data consumes 10 to 15 hours a week. 10 to 15 hours that use to be spent on finding ways to motivate learners. and with the demands of teaching today. We are losing experienced and new teachers because they are not given the time to act on the data that really matters. 

Teachers not only see the numbers, but they also see the child, they have essential knowledge about what motivates the children they teach. What teachers know often takes a back seat to the data policymakers value. I say the data that matters most is the real time observational data teachers have. The data the system often causing them to doubt. Or, feeling as if their voice does not matter. This feeling of doubt and being voiceless is in my opinion the number one reason we are losing experienced teachers today.

Those 10-15 hours of online data chasing prevents teachers from acting in real time on that rich Kid Watching Data that Dr. Yetta Goodman told me 30 years is a learning goldmine.

Teachers know where the gold is,                                                                                                               Dr. Jesse P. Turner                                                                                                                                      CCSU Literacy Center Director

If you like to see what inspired my blog today...its Barry Lane's What's Happening in our schools >

In case you want more Chuck Barry's "School Days" reminds me of > <

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Feel Spanish Language in your heart and feet

I teach future and current teachers in Connecticut. During our first Disciplinary Literacy Class last week; I asked students to share their best and worst teachers. I shared Mr. Bass, when I was broken and homeless, he fed me lunch, and made sure I had a winter coat and gloves. He brought me back to the world of the living via his humanity. Teachers do these things every day.

This course is taken just before our Pre-Service teachers do the Student-Teaching. This semester I have Spanish, History, Teach Education, and English teachers. The sharing is about sharing the character traits of good teaching. For some strange reason, many students came down on their former Spanish teachers this day. On Wednesday, my plan is to share two teachers, one is Father Fitzgerald, (Parish Priest) and Mrs. Sanchez my favorite Spanish Teacher. Father Fitzgerald story is about some of our best teachers don’t teach in a classroom, but outside the schoolhouse. Mrs. Sanchez is about a language teacher who knew before you learn a language you have to feel it in your heart. 

Mrs. Sanchez, open her class with Las niñas y los niños sienten español en sus corazones: [girls and boys, we feel Spanish in our heart not our head]. My oral Spanish speaking skills were lacking. I did well on homework assignments, quizzes, and tests, but my Spanish speaking skills were as broken as it gets. Mrs. Sanchez, said don’t worry about how you say it Jesse, your work shows me you can read and write Spanish. She had a way of helping us accept our limitations, and helping us see our strengths. I aced her classes, and learn to dance and feel Spanish in my heart. Mrs. Sanchez would end class with “Todos levántense, sientan español en el corazón y en los pies, es hora de bailar” [Everybody up, and feel Spanish in your heart and feet. It is time to dance]. She, place a record her record player, either some Falmenco, Mambo, Conga, or Salsa, and we flet Spanish in our feet and heart. 

Mrs. Sánchez, put Spanish in my heart and feet. She taught with her love of Spanish, and her students. Like, Mr. Bass, Father Fitz, and Mrs. Sánchez they did more to prepare me to be a teacher; then many of the research studies at the university. Time to remind these soon to be teachers, it is less about what we teach, and more about how we teach. Can't wait to see my Spanish teachers smile tomorrow. Humanity is every teacher's super power. Great teachers lead with humanity every day. 

This one is for you Mrs. Sánchez, and all you wonderful feel it in your heart Spanish Teachers.

Gracias,                                                   Dr. Jesse P. Turner                   
Literacy Profesora, 

If you like to dance to the tune that inspire my blog today...its Fania All Stars ft Oscar D'Leon, Milly Quezada, El Canario and others yo Soy La Salsa  > <