Each time I read about failing schools, drop-out rates and dumbed-down curricula I am usually reading a lament about the quality of teaching. No Child Left Behind was worthy in concept attempting to address many problems including functionally illiterate high school graduates.  NCLB addresses the problem at second-stage rather than source.

A recent email circulated a circa 1930 eighth grade graduation test. The email talked about the amazing depth of the testing and the fact that “only an eighth grade education” was not synonymous with under-educated. In fact, the email challenged college graduates to take and pass the test.

Elementary teachers interact with students approximately six hours a day for 185 days each year. Middle and high school teachers have far less one-to-one contact with individual students. Principals and counselors are expected to be behavior specialists fighting the daily disruptions that are crushing the educational process. In-School-Suspension is just one of the strange concepts developed to remove kids from the classroom while accepting that parents don’t have time to step-up to the problem.

Of course, there are problems in our schools. My return to college when my children were in elementary school happened because I witnessed the problems.  My determination was to be part of the solution.

Teachers do not need a defense from me. Day after day, teachers return to the classroom, determined to make a difference, to address the problems and educate our children. And the rewards certainly don’t come in the form of high salaries. The rewards come because students are important and teaching is a way to be part of the solution.

Teachers cannot monitor nutrition, hours of sleep, quality of friendships, choice of heroes, time spent on video games, texting with friends, homework completion, hanging out at malls, forms of discipline, behavior expectations and television, music and movie choices.

Teacher definitely do not need a defense from me. What they do need is a new paradigm in which education is higher up the scale of cultural values.


A New Beginning, A New Resurrection (ccr)

In the Christian world, we mark the greatest miracle in the celebration of the Resurrection.  The  liturgy for Easter Mass is a splendid thing, lovely in every celebratory way.  Outside the churches, the buds of Spring are the standard metaphor for new life, for resurrections from the earth.

Some weeks ago this blog found “God’s Shopping List” a puzzle, one I will never solve.  Some comments found the answer in my faith labeled ‘weak’ and explained to me that God DID answer every prayer on the list, just not in the way the supplicant intended.  No point in furthering that debate, at least not if my weak faith is the linchpin.

For me, Easter Sunday is a new beginning of hope for the needs we seem to butcher or bury along the way, the needs of human existence that pull us away from one another and from the God of  different names, but the one personage we call Power.

WAR as  method and solution.  Brave women and men, through centuries of warring, live maimed in spirit and body, die too young, and become a blip on a historical list of shifting power.

PREJUDICE as  method and solution, a tool to maintain control and power, a constant fulcrum to keep ‘them’ below the ‘us’ we see as chosen.

ABUSE as method and solution.  The world requires more than keening in voice and action to end abuse of every kind.  ABUSE is WAR and PREJUDICE, inflicting pain to maintain the status of chosen.  ABUSE is in governments, churches, homes and in our schools.

RAPE as  method and solution.  Rape is violence, prejudice and abuse of power–an obscene use of a body function.

ABORTION as  method and solution.  Birth control is as available as a package of Life Savers, front and center on many retail counters.  Granted that women should have the right to control their own bodies.  No debate on the heart of that argument.  Two simple solutions to end the diversion debate of when a fetus becomes human, birth control and, when all else fails, self-control.

POVERTY as method and solution.  There are always reasons explaining why children die from malnutrition, but not a word of any of those reasons stop the cries of hunger.

DISHONEST GOVERNMENT as method and solution.  Listen to debates.  Read news reports and editorial comments.  Search for truth and balance.  Try to understand the rhetoric of well-meaning people using defamation to support argument.

Personal Integrity, Education, Health Care…the list is so long and convoluted beyond easy sorting.  This piece of writing is lame, indeed, because it offers the list of resurrection needs without methods and solutions.  If our world has grown too complicated for reasonable solutions, then the ramifications of that  growth are the greatest resurrection needs.  With all due respect, I add this to God’s Shopping List— and Man’s Working List.


by Pat Antonopoulos

An  experience evolving from one of my volunteer activities simply won’t leave me alone.   A committee planned a special event at a local college. The event centered on a ceremony being held at a nearby church  not directly connected to the small school.  As a community building effort, the church was willing to share the facility.

Part of my responsibility focused on the music, organ and vocal. Because the event reached out to the students and the community, we wanted to involve the students in all phases.  A search was begun to find a student with the skill to play the organ and additional students to sing selected pieces.

Over 55 years ago, I attempted to learn this very organ, but did not have the training or skill. The organ has been in the choir loft for well over 60 years, belonging to the people of that faith community.

A courtesy call to the current church organist left me confused and brought me to this blog about ownership.

When I gave the information to the organist, stressing the student participation and expressing the hope of finding a students to  play and sing, the response was:
“That will be a disaster!  A student would not have the skill.  I cannot sanction that plan.  I play the organ and my fee is $—.00.”

Ownership.  Interesting concept.