Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Walking Man Walks

If you don't know about Dr. Jesse "The Walking Man" Turner, it's about time you did.

Turner has embarked on a shoeleather sojourn, traveling from Connecticut to DC in forty-two days. He's a professor of reading and language arts, and like many of us, he's been pushed out of his comfort zone by the need to get people's attention about what is happening in the world of education. You can hear some of his story from him right here:

He's a man loaded with good questions-- "When does the Department of Education stop calling their programs reforms?"

He's a poet, a speaker and a guy who actually got out of his home, onto his feet, and out into the world. The trip would scare the crap out of me, taking him as it does right down the BosWash East Coast corridor. But he's doing it.

Do I think that Arne Duncan will wake up this week and declare, "Well, heck. Jesse Turner walked all this way, so we'd better change our policies!" No, I don't think that's how these things work. But I think an action like Turner's does a couple of things.

First of all, it answers the question, "Just how much do you care?" Lots of people bitch about lots of things. The measure that matters is how much they care. I can say I don't like you sitting up against me on the couch, but if I don't even get up and move, that tells you I don't really care. I can complain about what's on tv, but if I don't pick up the remote, my complaints are hollow words.

When it comes to the challenges to public education, there are far too many people who will bitch and moan and shrug and wish somebody somewhere would do something. The big question is, just how far out of your comfort zone would you step, how much would you inconvenience your self, how much would you risk to stand up for what you care about.

It's the premise of He's Not That Into You-- if a man says he loves you, but won't actually do anything about it, he doesn't really love you all that much.

Well, Jesse Turner loves the cause of public education that much. He cares that much. He's willing to make himself vulnerable, to literally put himself out there that much. Politicians know talk is cheap. They hear cheap talk all the time. Their question is not "What are people saying," but "How deeply and passionately do they care about it."

So walking answers that question, and it gives other people to answer the question, too. Maybe you have the chance to speak up in support. Maybe you still have a chance to walk with him. maybe you will there to meet him when he walks into DC in time for the BATs Congress. Or maybe you can give up some of your own hard-earned cash in support of him. He has a gofundme page to help raise the money needed for an adventure like this (he's already kicked in three grand of his own). So do that, and tell people you've done that, and tell them why.

Because that's the other value in an act like this. It attracts attention. It gets people talking because it gives them something to talk about. And that's a valuable part of a movement as well. Turner has put it out there for all of us, and he's on the home stretch this week. At the end of a big foot race, you'll find a big crowd cheering the runners in, helping them finish strong for that last leg of the challenge. Let's help Turner finish strong this week.

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