Tribute to the Warriors

This is a tribute poem for a great warrior in the fight to save our children – Dr. James Avington Miller Jr. – and to all his radio show listeners and Facebook followers. Today is the second anniversary of his show entitled The War Report on Public Education.

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Dark, deceitful, dreadful
The war continues.

Hidden from the public
Children succumb to oblivion.

Masses are found naked
In the valley of corporate reform.

Masses of children
Stripped of their humanity.

Masses of teachers
Rendered voiceless and faceless.

Masses of parents
Left with no option but to escape the dark night
And cover their children with a blanket of compassion
That heals hearts, minds, and little bodies.

And in all the darkness
In the dreadful abandon of humane concern
In the deceit and lies that spew from media and our elected officials

There is a light

There is a voice

There is hope.

Only love can chase away the hate.
Only the light of truth can fight off the darkness.

That little voice is in each one of us
That little voice and that tiny ray of light
Can fight off the usurpers of our future hope.

So today – on the second anniversary of
The War Report on Public Education –
I encourage all of us to keep on fighting the war
To keep on telling the truth
To keep on exposing the lies that warp our understanding

Because

We will find each other one day
And we will unite together
And parents, teachers, professors, politicians, community leaders, pastors, shop owners, even the media will unite

And together we shall bring down
The evil Machiavellian Agenda
And we will win
The war against public education.

My Criteria for a Model School by Mark Naison

1. Children are loved and walk around the school with smiles on their faces.
2. Teachers are respected and stay in their jobs for a long time.
3. Parents are welcome in the school and are made to feel an integral part of the culture of the school.
4. The culture and history of the community the school is located is honored in displays and in what is taught in classes.
5. Arts, physical education, recess and sports are NEVER sacrificed for higher test scores.
6. ELL and Special Needs students are treated with respect and are given the counseling and special attention they need to thrive.
7. Students have such a positive experience at the school that they return on a regular basis after they have graduated.

If you think that these features are only found in private schools or schools in affluent middle schools, you need to visit the CASA Middle School in the Bronx where Jamaal Bowman is the principal.

This is not only something that CAN be done in all communities, it is something that MUST be done so that ALL our children can grow up with confidence in their abilities.

And Poetic Justice would add to the list the following:
8. All children will be encouraged to find and use their voices in academic subjects and particularly in creative writing and POETRY classes.

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Who Are “The Disposables”? – from Dr. Mark Naison

Here is a “must-read” blog post from my friend Dr. Mark Naison. We are losing millions of lives. They are just disappearing. They are “The Disposables”.

Who Are “The Disposables”?

My friend Jo Lieb just called for a “Revolution of the Disposables”.

Who are the Disposables?

– They are the more than 90 million Americans of working age who are not in the labor force and do not have regular jobs.
– They are the millions of teenagers who dropped out or were pushed out of school in cities like Detroit and Memphis and New Orleans and Los Angeles and Chicago and have disappeared from view because the divisions between charter schools and public schools have made it impossible to develop a coherent strategy to make sure no child is lost.
– They are all the people who graduated from college with huge debt and can’t find a job with benefits so they package together three or four jobs to make ends meet whether they are living with their parents or living with groups of friends
– They are the rural heroin addicts that no one knows how to explain and no one knows what to do with because they don’t neatly fit in anybody’s idea of what kind of country this is.
Will all these folks ever find common cause with one another and demand that some form of economic security and decent schooling be available to all?

Or will we continue to sink deeper into poverty and stagnation?

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And here is Poetic Justice’s response:

Recipe for Educational Malpractice and National Catastrophe:

BEGIN WITH:

Forcing children to read texts that are 6 grade levels and more above their instructional reading level.

THEN ADD:

Forcing children to write in a formulaic and robotic manner disallowing any personal connections or life application.

STIR IN:

Pressure to achieve high scores on invalid and unreliable assessments.

COVER WITH:

Stressed out, paranoid, and targeted teachers only thinking about their own evaluations.

This is the perfect recipe to create a nation of disposable children who will just disappear from the data by the time they are 21.

Choose to #DoNoHarm

A Special Guest Posting from The Walking Man – Dr. Jesse Turner – “An Ode to Education”

From the Walking Man  – Dr. Jesse Turner

An Ode to Education

I Love Public Education
I cried the first time my Mother left me at your door,
I would learn to love you with every morning cookie and container of milk,
I would love you more with every song we sang within your hallowed walls,
I found your love in every teacher’s smile in your halls
I loved the reverence and respect you showed our flag every morning.
When the evil darkness of assassination
took the life of President Kennedy ~ you were there,
You calmed us, and helped us understand that although things could never be the same ~ our nation would be mended,
You kept us warm during the winters from 9:00 to 3:00 ~ when there was no heat in our old cold-water flat,
You were there when they murdered our heroes Martin and Bobby, to help us wipe away our tears,
You ensured that although they were taken from our world ~ these men would remain in our hearts forever,
You gave us hope through the riots and the protests,
You gave us color when there were no crayons in our homes,
You gave us poetry to ease our pain,
You gave us poetry to celebrate our lives,
You gave us history to give us roots,
You gave us geography, the stars and the moon landing ~ just to let us know we had no boundaries,
You taught us mathematics and science,
But most of all you gave us literature,
You gave us a love of books,
You handed us a little more of our dreams every single day,
You were there, year after year, as we spent our summer vacations under the cooling spray of fire hydrants ~ dancing in the streets,
As every summer ended we longed for another school year to begin,
You were beaming with pride at every graduation,
My loves still grows
I am confused by:
A nation’s leaders ~ who bash public schools at every opportunity,
An American media ~ that ignores 150 years of noble service to our nation’s children,
I find myself distraught ~ by the titans of industry, who blame you for every social ill, while they drink from the cup of plenty, time and time again,
I am troubled by their mantra of testing will save us,
I am saddened by their infatuation with fictional heroes like Superman, and homage to those with no real classroom experience,
I am bewildered by leaders who say teachers are the essential ingredients to success, and then in their next breath say our teachers are not good enough.
All I am I owe to you,
I can’t remember one single standardized test,
I do remember teacher after teacher telling us those tests were no measure of who we really are,
I remembered loving Mr. Bass’s reminders that poor boys and girls could be anything they dreamed,
His boys and girls were more than test scores,
We were his endless possibilities,
Yes, I love public education,
I love public education enough to fight for it,
I love public education enough to stand up for it,
I love public education enough to take it back from the
The billionaires club,
The politicians,
The policy makers,
The ones who only see test scores,
The ones who count numbers not tears,
The ones who refer to America’s children as “Data”
Yes, I love public education; enough to walk to Washington DC again in 2015.
Forever in your debt,
Jesse Turner

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You are all invited to take part in Jesse’s 400 mile walk from Central CT to Washington DC beginning this June 11th. Jesse be walking  to protest the education malpractice that is demoralizing parents, teachers, and turning our children into human capital.

He will be walking 400 miles in 40 days.

Please check out his FaceBook Event page.

Perfection – A Teacher’s Saturday Morning Rant

Sometimes perfection comes from just living in the moment and finding peace in the warmth of the fire and the beauty of freshly fallen snow…

In a perfect world ~

each child would have two loving parents
a school building would be warm and inviting
teachers would be esteemed and respected
there would be no need for unions

In a perfect world ~

all children would be able to go to college
or enter a trade
and choose a career path they love

In a perfect world ~

communities would demand the truth
politicians would denounce the lies
journalists would reject bias

In a perfect world ~

all children would love words
all teachers would love children
all parents would love parenting

In a perfect world ~

there would be no illiteracy
there would be no discrimination
there would be no harassment

In a perfect world ~

we would truly love each other
we would truly care for each other
we would truly respect each other

In a perfect world ~

we would live each day
dancing to the harmonious beat
of love, peace, and compassion

we would sleep in peace
and wake up to life
and live each day as if it were our last

we would grow in grace
and learn from our mistakes
and take one step closer to our life’s Final Goal

In a perfect world ~

you and I would understand each other
we would talk and write and text and share
all the glory and awesome events in our days

In my perfect world
this snowy Saturday morning
I wait
to hear
the heartbeat and precious breath
of the Spirit of Life ….

When that moment happens
my world becomes
….. Perfection …..

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