the skirmish, sequel to waging war

Today’s skirmish wasn’t much really.  It started out so innocently.  I chose self-check, the lines were shorter, it would be faster.  Right?  I would miss making idle chit chat with the cashier but I would gain time.  Besides, maybe technology was taking a day off from being the bane of my existence.

The process started out well. I scanned my first item correctly and it rang up right. Then the trouble began.  I couldn’t pry the plastic bag hanging next to the machine open.  “Please place item in the bag,”  self-scan technology instructed me.  “I’m trying, I’m trying,”  was my frustrated reply.  Before I could get the plastic bag open, self-scan technology asked me to confirm via her screen that I did not want to bag this item.  “But I DO want to bag this item,”  I told SST(self-scan technology)  I just can’t get the bag open.  Can’t you be patient?

In the interest of getting along, I pressed the “I do not want to bag this item” choice so that I could scan my next item.  Before I scanned my second item however, I succeeded in getting the bag open and deposited my first item.  Well, this did not sit well with SST because I had already told her I did not wish to bag this item.  Let the games begin.  It was on now.

Scanning my next item and placing it in the now open bag, I noticed SST telling me urgently to “place item in the bag.”   Problem was, I already had done this.  “It IS in the bag,”  I told SST in no uncertain terms.  But she persisted with her request to put my item in the bag.  So I took it out and put it in again. This did not satisfy SST in the least.  I selected the “I do not wish to bag this item,”   option while leaving my item in the bag so that I could proceed.  Score one for me!

My next item did not ring up at the sale price shown on the shelf where the item was displayed.  “You are wrong!”, I told SST,  “this item is on sale.”  But SST did not believe me, she would not change the price.  I waited for the real person on duty to finish helping someone else who was also having trouble with SST.  I explained the problem and with a key the real person forced SST to give me the promised sale price for my item.  Take that technology!

I think this made SST mad.  I say this because of what happened next.  SST upped her game.  When she thought my item wasn’t in the bag, she began telling me to “place item on the belt.”  And she wouldn’t let me scan any more items until I complied.  “But the item is already in the bag,” I reminded SST.  “I don’t want to put it on the belt!”  SST does not care what I want.  She makes this clear to me when my ice cream and my dark chocolate bar will not scan.  I cannot get the familiar “beep” no matter how many times I pass the bar code over SST’s scanner.  She is turning a blind eye.  She is standing between me and my favorite treats.  Who does SST think she is anyway?  My mother, telling me what I can and can’t eat?  All this power is going to her head.  (does SST even have a head?  clearly she has no heart) Does she know how hard produce is to check out?  code numbers have to be known and entered and then things have to be weighed.  It’s a much more complicated process.  Come on SST, just give me the goodies!

As I scanned my last item SST again told me to “please place item in the bag.” Trouble was, this was a twenty pound bag of kitty litter and it was definitely not going in that bag or any bag.  I waited patiently for the “I do not wish to bag this item,”  option to appear but for some reason SST seemed bent on having me bag this twenty pound bag of kitty litter.  I could wait her out.  SST had to give me the other option in a timely manner,  didn’t she?

Well, I did eventually leave the store.  But only after soliciting further assistance from a real person.  You see, SST refused to give me a paper receipt after taking my card.  This was unacceptable.  SST was being totally uncooperative and holding me hostage. Thankfully the real person intervened on my behalf and SST coughed up my receipt.  Game over.  (for now)  Next time I will wait in a cashier’s line.  Real people trump technology every time.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, . . . ”  (Proverbs 17:22)

hope this gave you a chuckle,   sincerely,     Grace Day






not a sparrow falls

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”  (Matthew 10:29-31)

Sparrows are falling all around us, all the time.  We just need to open our eyes.  Or maybe our eyes are open but it’s too painful and we feel too overwhelmed, so we shut them again, tighter this time.  Still, the images of what we’ve seen remain even as we fight to bury them somewhere we don’t go often.

Who are the sparrows?  the homeless, the poor, the sick, the widow, the orphan, the abused child, the runaway, the veteran, the handicapped, the hurting, the helpless, the lonely (our neighbor, our co-worker)  They are all around us and they are falling fast, faster than we can catch them.  It feels helpless and seems hopeless.

I caught a sparrow today.   I sponsored a child.  A child that wouldn’t otherwise receive an education and some other things like food and medical care. Just one child, but that’s one sparrow that won’t hit the ground.  A better way of putting it is that God caught a sparrow today, but in His infinite kindness He used me to do it.  He allowed me the supreme joy of  participating in His plan. I got to take part in His rescue mission.  If I would have refused, He would have found someone else. After all, the cattle on a thousand hills are His.  But God in His mercy, allowed me to partner with Him in His eternal purpose of rescuing sparrows one by one. What a thrill it was for me today to catch a sparrow.  Now I will get to watch her grow.

Family Legacy is in the business of rescuing sparrows one by one.  Poor orphans and vulnerable children are given hope and a future in Jesus’ name.  They are given this through education, which is the way out of poverty.  But they are given so much more than education.  They are given the gospel of Jesus Christ.  They are given His Word to hide in their hearts, His promise of abundant, eternal life to all who believe.

I thought the purpose of sponsoring a child was to change the child’s life.  And that is true.  Their life will be changed.  My sponsored child’s life will be dramatically different and have an outcome that she could not have imagined before being rescued from her current circumstances.  However, I didn’t think that the purpose of sponsorship was to change my life.  After all, my life is fine, right?  It doesn’t need changing.  Apparently God thinks otherwise.

In His infinite wisdom and mercy God knew my life needed changing as much as my now sponsored child’s did.  While He’s rescuing my sponsored child from poverty and all the hardships that accompany that circumstance in this life, God is simultaneously rescuing me from myself,  my sinful,  selfish, self-centered self.  He is working on my heart and setting me free from all that hinders my relationship with Him.  What joy!  What unexpected, unexplainable, unaccountable free flowing joy and freedom.  What a sense of purpose to discover a place where God is clearly at work and join Him there.  What a privilege that He allows my participation.  I am filled with gratitude for this opportunity to sponsor a child.

“learn to do right!  Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.  Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.”  (Isaiah 1:17)

“Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.”  (Psalm 82:3)

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’ ”   (Matthew 25:40)

I caught a sparrow today.  I sponsored a child with Family Legacy.

sincerely,       Grace Day



waging war

Yes, my daily battle with technology continues and today was no exception, except that today’s battle was a doozy.   Today our conflict was more frustrating, more intense than is usual for us.  Probably because the task was important, the stakes were high and time was of the essence, this battle today took on added significance and reminded me once again why I have this love/hate relationship with technology.   The very same technology I might add, that everyone I know seems to have such a good relationship with,  so warm, so close, so personal.  I never hear my family or friends ranting about technology or threatening to break up with her for good.  On the contrary, they love her, worship her and spend their days with her, never leaving her side.

I know I haven’t written much about these daily battles of mine.  That’s because I wouldn’t want to bore you with the mundane yet usually gory details of each encounter.  But today was more than I bargained for yet again.  I signed up for the three hour tour and ended up shipwrecked on Gilligan’s Island indefinitely, with no hope of rescue apart from making peace with technology. (you do see the irony in this predicament, don’t you.)  This time, technology was both cause and cure of what ailed me.

That’s how it always goes down with technology and me.  What should be a simple, quick task on my computer turns into a time consuming trauma that defies all logic and leads me through a labyrinth of options that I do not want to choose and places I do not want to go.  Such was my experience again today.  I needed to complete a required background check for an agency with which I volunteer.  The email to me contained the link, all I need do is click and follow directions.  Right? So I do this and things go well until it says it doesn’t like my DLN number.  Of course it tells me this in BIG RED letters so I can’t miss it.  (like I would)  and it won’t let me move on to the next screen anyway, even if I wanted to ignore the warning that all was not right on this screen and attempt to proceed by continually clicking the next/continue button at the bottom of this screen, which I did of course, but with no success.  Technology had won this round.  The clock was ticking and technology was winning.

So technology and I are in a stalemate.  I am holding my driver’s license in my hand, telling technology I have put in the correct number, but she refuses steadfastly to accept it.   So I am forced to use my secret weapon, I am forced to go to plan B.  I call the number given in the email for assistance,  I enlist the help of a live person!  They are kind and caring and ready to assist me.  Of course, this is their job, this is what they are paid to do.  I used to think they must really dread getting callers such as myself, but then I realized it’s me and callers like me that give them job security.  So we need each other, I decided.

Well, things were looking up.  My live person had a solution, but I hit the backspace bar when the cursor was not where I wanted it to be and ended up on a page with a sad face picture, so I knew I was in trouble.  I ended up refilling out some pages but before I could get back to the driver’s license page I was stopped again.  This time there was no next/continue button at the bottom of the screen and there was an error message in a pink box saying I had already done this and couldn’t resubmit (well I knew I’d already done it, but it wouldn’t let me go on)  We were in a battle to the death, we were deadlocked.

My live person can no longer help me and the person that can is “out to lunch” (literally not figuratively) at this time.  She takes my number and tells me someone will call,  don’t log out.  I have time to ponder as I wait.  (I can’t go anywhere, I use an old desk top computer, I am held hostage, technology is holding me hostage and my hostility towards her increases with the passing of each hour)  Should I just give up my volunteer position?  Is that what technology wants?  I will NOT surrender, I decide. I will persevere.

The phone rings.  Let the games resume!  My new live person on the other end of the phone is also kind and caring.  I log out, I log in.  I repeat some things but finally I arrive at the dreaded driver’s license info screen.  Take two.  I get it right this time and the kind, live person talks me through to the end.  I get off the island after all and get what’s left of my day back.  I also have fulfilled the agency’s requirement so I can keep doing what I’ve been doing.  Take that, technology, I win one!

Sadly, this is not an isolated incident for me.  Earlier this week, technology and I were at a similar impasse.  I was signing up via computer to be a child sponsor, only technology wouldn’t accept my payment to seal the deal.  I kid you not,  she taunted me with “an unknown error occurred while processing your payment” in red letters of course,  time after time as I continued to resubmit.  We were once again dead locked, technology standing between me and my objective.  What to do?  I sought support, I called a live person and they accepted my payment.  I did an end run around technology!  Score one more for me!

This is exhausting as technology and I will continue to do battle because I need her and she refuses to cooperate with me.  Everything and everyone has gone paperless.  Now I’m all for saving trees and getting less mail, but there’s got to be a better way?  (eliminating junk mail would be a good start)  Even God has gone high tech.  Well, really not God, it’s church that’s colluding with technology.  I have to sign up for things at my church online and take attendance for my bible study group online weekly.  I had that skill mastered until they changed the system, now I have no clue how to access and do what I need to do,  consequently, my attendance hasn’t been submitted in almost a year.  (guess technology hasn’t ratted me out on that one yet?  maybe she feels sorry for me?)

Some how real people trump technology everytime.  And then there’s God.  I’m so thankful I don’t need technology to access my Heavenly Father!  He’s wireless and technology free, no expertise needed.  I count on that fact, I rejoice in it.  Here’s what Psalm 139 says about it, “O Lord, You have searched me and You know me.  . . . You perceive my thoughts from afar.  . . . Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, O Lord.”

“In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help.  From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came before Him, into His ears.”  (Psalm 18:6)

“I call on the Lord in my distress, and He answers me.”  (Psalm 120:1)

How wonderful is that?  I am known, I am heard by my Heavenly Father at all times.  I have instant access, twenty-four/seven to my Creator.  There are no technical difficulties to interfere with our connection or our communication.  My Heavenly Father never slumbers nor sleeps.

“. . .  God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ ”  (Hebrews 13:5)

I rest in that promise,

sincerely,      Grace Day









the God of Re

You are the God of reason.

” ‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord.  ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’ ”  (Isaiah 1:16)

You are the God of remarkable renown.

“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me.”  (Is.46:9)

“I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from Me there is no savior.”  (Is. 43:11)

You are the God who recognizes my worth as Your creation.  You are the God who reaches down to earth for me.  You are the God who rescues me from myself, from my sin and from my enemies.  You are the God who relentlessly pursues me.  You are the God who receives me just as I am.  You are the God who remembers that I am dust and who remembers my sins no more.  You are the God who removes my heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh.

You are the God who refines me with fire, the God whose glory is reflected in me. You are the God who relents from sending  calamity.  You are the God who remains faithful even when I am unfaithful.  You are the God of  repentance, not of regret.  You are the God of infinite reserves and resources;  the cattle on a thousand hills are Yours and Your supply of grace and mercy never runs out.

You are the God who renews a steadfast spirit within me, the God who restores to me the joy of Your salvation.  You are the God of rest and of renewal, leading me to green pastures and beside still waters; giving me the Sabbath as Holy.

You are the God who reveals Yourself to me in every sunrise and in every sunset and in every syllable of Your Holy Word.  You are the God who redeems my life with Your own blood.  You are the God who reconciles me to Yourself.  You are the God who repairs my brokenness.  You are the God who rejoices over me with singing.  You are the God who wants a relationship with me, You created me for that purpose.

Yes, You, oh Lord are the God of re;  the God of relationship, of repentance, of redemption, of reconciliation, of rejoicing, of renewal, of restoration and of all revelation.  “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.”  (Is. 46:10)

You, oh God, will return for me; to repay, to rescue and to reign forever.  You remain from everlasting to everlasting the same.  You are a remarkable God, there is none like You.

sincerely,      Grace Day

the jury is out and I am on it

Yes, it’s true, dear readers.  The jury was out and I was on it.  Jury duty.  An experience every American should participate in to fully appreciate our justice system and our country.  Rather than leaving me discouraged with our current state of affairs, this was a reminder to me of what we take for granted here in this country.  We take for granted something that many people do not have access to in other places on this planet, which is the presumption of innocence until proven guilty and the right to be judged by a jury of our peers.   Yes, truth, justice and the American Way are still alive and well.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal . . . ” (Declaration of Independence)  In our country this is a given, but what does this mean?  Because clearly all people are not created equal.  Some are born with physical handicaps or deformities or genetic diseases.  Some are born into poverty, some into wealth.  Some possess great musical or athletic or intellectual abilities. It doesn’t appear that we are all equal in any sense of the word.  But there is one way, there is one place in which we are all equal in this country.  We are all equal under the law, we are all equal in a courtroom.  Lady Justice wears a blindfold signifying the law’s impartiality to all.  Justice is and should be blind; blind to wealth, power, race, fame, religion- to everything.  We all look the same to Lady Justice.  We are all equal under the law.

Lady Justice holds scales in her hand.  What is she trying to balance?  I think she is balancing justice for the victim with justice for the accused. Both deserve justice under the law.  Can both receive justice simultaneously?  Or is justice for one injustice for the other?  As the twelve of us (jurors) deliberated the case before us, I pondered these issues.  (deliberated is such a perfect word to describe the actions a jury must take, we must be deliberate, that is to say we must be thoughtful, careful, take our time because someone’s “liberty” is at stake.  That is the reason we deliberate)

But there is a weak link in the chain.  Or better said, the foundation on which everything rests is in jeopardy. That foundation is truth.  You see, without truth there can be no justice.  And without justice there can be no mercy.  But it all starts with the truth.  Deciding a defendant’s guilt or innocence is a daunting task. However, decisions based on the truth are always going to be better decisions than those decisions we make based on lies, deception, misrepresentation or omission of relevant, important information.  In other words, if we as jurors are not given the truth, the whole truth; how can we be expected to arrive at a just conclusion?

I debated within myself as I listened to my fellow jurors struggle aloud along with me during the twelve plus hours of our deliberation following the trial.  Were the witnesses we had heard over the past three days credible?  In other words, were they telling the truth?  Could we believe what they had said?  What to do with conflicting testimony?  We are forced to choose who to believe and who to doubt. Decisions determining guilt or innocence are always better decisions if they are based on the truth than if they are based on false information.  But the truth is hard to come by.

This was a murder trial.  There was so much at stake.  I did not take this responsibility lightly, nor did my fellow jurors.  We all felt the weight of the decision before us.  What would be the greater miscarriage of justice?  to imprison an innocent person or to set a guilty person free?  Both weighed on my conscience and warred in my heart.  I couldn’t bear the thought of either outcome.  If only everyone spoke only what was true, decisions would be the right ones, given the facts.

I feel we struggle not because we do not know what is just,  we struggle because we do not know what is true.  Truth must precede justice, truth must be present for justice to occur.  Without truth it is almost impossible for justice to emerge.  But if we can possess the truth we can find our way to justice.  We all want justice for ourselves, for our family members, for our friends. But are we willing to tell the truth so that others as well as ourselves may receive justice when others are the ones to whom justice is due?  Justice denied to one endangers us all.  Ironically, there is truth in the statement that knowing the truth will set you free.  Truth can exonerate the accused, truth can set the prisoner free.

As we continued to debate, I thought of those I had seen in the courtroom.  They had come desiring, demanding justice.  Were they equally desirous of the truth? Would they as vigorously demand the truth?  Because justice will follow the truth, but cannot precede it nor exist without it.  Had they given us the truth or had they withheld it and given us lies in its’ place, all the while expecting us to return with justice?  It just isn’t possible.  (pun intended)

This was not a high profile case.  That is to say the victim, a fifteen year old boy, was not rich or famous.  Shootings of this type sadly, are considered commonplace in this day and age.  Every case should be a high profile case because every life lost is important, every life is of value, actually of infinite value to God.  Having that perspective, I continued to struggle along with my fellow jurors as we did the best we could with what we were given.  We were looking for, truly desiring truth and justice.  Of the two, truth is the more elusive.  Truth seemed to come and go as the hours wore on, evading our grasp by inviting doubt to spend this time with us as well.  Justice, we know in our hearts and we recognize her when we meet her, just as we also recognize her absence.  She is universally known.

Our verdict was rendered, the case was closed.  The loss of this young man’s life will never be closed for his family and friends.  My appreciation for our justice system however was renewed and strengthened.  Such care was taken to do everything correctly, beginning with the selection process by which we all became jurors.  There was dignity and there was due process.  Everything possible was done, it seems to me, to ensure impartiality and fairness every step of the way. Our justice system is alive and well.   The problem I saw is with us, the citizens, when we are called to testify to the truth in any matter we might find ourselves having information about.  If we know something and don’t come forward with the truth, we can’t expect to see justice take place.

If the law doesn’t protect one person, then it doesn’t protect any of us.  We are all injured when justice doesn’t prevail.  When the innocent are incarcerated and the guilty go free, we all suffer, we all pay a price.  That being said, we have the best judicial system in the world.  We should be grateful for it and the protections it affords us.  The system is in place, but for it to work as it should, we have to do our part.  I said earlier that “truth” is the weak link in this system and we are the bearers of the truth.  We are the truth tellers.  That is our right, that is our responsibility.  If we refuse to play the part that is ours to play, then we deserve the less than desirable outcomes that are the result of our not doing what we can when given the opportunity.

“The Lord reigns.  The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; He will judge the peoples with equity.  . . .   they will sing before the Lord, for He comes, He comes to judge the earth.  He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in His truth.”  (Psalm 96:10,13)

Now that’s the judge I’m waiting for!  He knows the truth, He judges rightly and He grants mercy.  Mercy, the most marvelous of the three (truth, justice, mercy) but without justice we have nothing to apply mercy to.  Actually, apart from knowing what justice looks like, we can’t even recognize mercy when we receive it.  The measure and the meaning of the miracle that is mercy, well that is definitely another post.

sincerely,      Grace Day









Farewell my four legged friend

Goodbyes are never easy and this is true with pets as well as with people.  Our pets have their own special places in our hearts and in our lives and when they are gone there is an empty space that wasn’t there before.  In their absence we become acutely aware of the part they played in our life, as the presence of the empty space they left behind confronts us at every turn as we go about our day. Such is my experience today.

I have said goodbye to my furry, four-legged friend of sixteen years, my cat Cinamon.  It was a quiet, peaceful, unceremonious parting.  She had a place all her own in my home and in my heart and I am feeling her absence today.  Pets truly are one of God’s good gifts to us.  They become part of our families.  They bring us joy, companionship, and comfort as they give us the gift of their unconditional love.  Indeed, God gave Adam the job of naming the animals and the responsibility to care for them.

Today it seems we are discovering as if for the first time all the ways animals are beneficial to us.  Seeing eye dogs have been around for a long time and are widely accepted.  Police dogs and other service dogs are increasing as well.  Pet therapies are now being recognized for all the benefits that can result.  Whether with young children or the elderly, in hospitals or other settings, bringing animals in for people to interact with has positive outcomes.   These therapy animals can provide comfort, calmness, evoke a response from less or non-responsive patients, bring a smile, bring hope, establish a connection with hard to reach people. Animals sometimes seem to break down barriers that people can’t cross.

Animals are being trained today as service pets for people with many kinds of disabilities, not just blindness.  These animals become not only care takers but the constant companions of those they are trained to serve.  Pets become family members and teach children valuable lessons in responsibility and caring for those who cannot care for nor speak for themselves.  Pets teach us compassion and bring us comfort. Pets provide a sense of purpose for the elderly by giving them someone who needs their care, someone who depends on them.

I thank God for His good gift of animals of all kinds.  Such diversity and creativity in animals as in all other aspects of creation, for us to enjoy and to watch over. Pets are a particularly rewarding and wonderful part of His gift to us to enjoy.  So today, as I feel the absence of my furry, four-legged friend of these many years, I will reflect on God’s goodness and be grateful that I had such a friend for such a time as I did.

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.'”  (Genesis 1:26)

“You made him ruler over the works of Your hands; You put everything under his feet:  all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.   O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!”   (Psalm 8:6-9)

sincerely,      Grace Day



the missing piece

the missing piece of what?  you ask.  The missing piece of the puzzle that is public education, I would answer.  The programs, the partnerships, the personnel are all in place, so what’s the missing link?  Finger pointing surfaces at this point in the conversation, finger pointing that has been going on so long as to eliminate any hope of identifying its’ origin.  Who’s participating in this pointless (pun intended) activity of perpetual finger pointing?  Parents, teachers and school administrators are the participants.

Parents often blame the teacher and/or the school administration for their child’s lack of progress or success in the classroom.    At the same time teachers are desiring more support from parents and more back up from their administrators. All the while both parents and administrators are holding the teacher directly responsible for each student’s success or failure in the classroom.  Who is conspicuously absent from these aforementioned groups of people concerned with the education of students today?  The students!  That’s whose missing from the very public discourse on public education today.

While all the adults concerned are busy blaming each other for the less than positive things taking place in our schools currently,  no one is holding the students’ feet to the fire, no one is holding them accountable for pursuing, participating in and obtaining their own education.  They are flying beneath the radar, watching the battle over public education rage all around them,  content with their non-responsible, victim status where no one is looking at them with any sort of expectation.  After all, the students are the victims of the system. (one of the aforementioned myths)  They are not expected to bring anything to the table of their own education.

Allow me to illustrate.  On a typical day in a typical high school where I work, the bell rings and the students go to their class.  They come to class well prepared, but prepared for what would be the question.  They enter the classroom full to be sure.  Their hands are full of chips, candy or whatever food they have at the moment plus pop or perhaps a sports drink.  Their ears are full of their music as they have earbuds in or beets on as they enter.  They also have their phone, (which they are usually on at the time) their ipod, a charger,  sometimes a hand-held electronic game and sometimes a notebook, not the paper kind, the electronic kind.  This is what they bring each day to the table of their own education.

There is work on the overhead for them to do upon entering and usually papers for them to pick up for today’s lesson as they enter in at the door.  But their hands are already full and they are busy texting, talking and listening to their music. They are too busy for the business of learning, their own learning I might add. The teacher already knows the material and has a college degree.  The need is the students’ need to acquire the skill and the knowledge in each subject area necessary for them to accomplish their goals.  Nevertheless, it is the teacher who is held responsible for the students’ decisions and actions.  The students know this, so there is no reason to change any of their behavior.  If the consequences of the students’ behavior are someone else’s consequences, there is no incentive to change.

So the cycle continues.  Students come to class with nothing to write on and nothing to write with.  (these, the teacher must provide in the classroom) Homework is a forgotten concept and in-class work appears to be following in those footsteps.  Teachers continue to be held accountable for students’ poor academic performances.  This results in more teacher training in methods and management, more requirements and more paper work for teachers showing their planning and accountability, all the while ignoring any notion of student responsibility for their own choices and behavior.

Example, the teacher is held responsible if the student sleeps during class.  But the teacher has no control over nor responsibility for how the student has chosen to spend their time previously, ie.  up late watching TV, playing video games or on the computer.  Schools don’t want to be “failing schools” based on test scores, so even more pressure is put on the administrators of these schools, who pass that on to the teachers.  Standards are lowered in an effort to pass more students.  This ultimately serves no one well, particularly the students, although they appear to benefit from the decision at the time.

Teachers and administrators are under tremendous pressure to produce a “product”, the successful student.  But education is not a “for profit” business and should not be run like one nor evaluated like one.  Schools have gone test crazy in an effort to “prove” that results are being achieved.  Results that are not “real” for many reasons. (referring to test results)  The proliferation of all kinds of standardized testing ( a huge money making business in and of itself) has been forced upon public education as a means of justifying its’ existence, to the detriment of the actual learning experience that used to define true education in the classroom.  Being forced to spend time “teaching to the test” is one of the many negative results of this trend toward over testing, testing that takes up valuable time that could be better spent in actual interactive teaching/learning time.

So the “missing piece” in the education puzzle, the student, continues to be missing from the dialogue and the decisions about how to solve the problems of public education.  In the name of compassion standards are lowered in various subject areas so more students can pass on to the next level/grade.  There is nothing compassionate about this response.  It says we have no expectation that these students are capable of performing at the required level, so we will “rescue” them by changing the standard.  In the name of compassion students are allowed to remain in school despite behavior, such as fighting, property damage, cutting class, verbal assaults etc.  Again, there is nothing compassionate about allowing their behavior to continue without consequences to them.  The consequence to the school if students are expelled is the loss of more funding,  funding which is based on enrollment numbers.  But living “consequence free” at school doesn’t prepare students for the real world.  They come to feel “entitled” to things such as grades without the expectation that something is actually required of them to earn those grades.

Change will come when we start holding individual students responsible for their own behavior; not their parents, not their teachers, not society at large.  I just returned from a country where children are grateful for the opportunity to attend school.  At home they sleep on the floor and go without food and may be mistreated.  At school they behave well and work hard.  They are not victims, they are an inspiration.  These children are no different than the students I see here in that their circumstances are often difficult, they have much to overcome.  But here I see entitled victims,  in those classrooms I saw empowered participants. And that all the difference makes.

Allowing our students’ wrong behaviors to continue consequence free in the name of compassion because they have a hard life and live in dangerous places is not working for them or for the schools or for society in general for that matter.  It’s time to shift our focus to the “missing pieces”  and to hold them accountable to participate in their own education.  Now that just might be true compassion.

sincerely,       Grace Day
















Myths, misconceptions, misgivings,

mystery, mismanagement, misappropriation, misperception;  I could go on,  there has been so much missed and there is so much currently amiss when it comes to public education in this country and in this state, that I hardly know where to start.  I guess I’ll start with my own urban public school system closing schools as a result of what?  well, of so many things.  They site lack of enrollment and underutilized buildings.  But closing schools is the symptom,  the end result of what has preceeded and what has perpetuated this eventual outcome in the first place.  It began with a myth and ends with a mystery.  The myth is that public education cannot compete with and is substandard to private education, followed by the mystery of what will take its (public education’s) place and what will become of all its students when all these  schools are closed?

This outcome has been in process for some time, moving slowly so as not to attract too loud an outcry or too large an opposition, keeping outrage to a minimum. Until one day I see on the evening news my school is closing along with some others, also my schools as well.  I am sad, I am shocked, I am powerless, I am silent.  Who decides these things anyway?  Oh, they go through the motions of holding the meetings to “gather community input”.  But in the end the dollar speaks louder than the voices of the people impacted by the closings.  Voices that represent those that live and work in the community and send their children to school there.

The neighborhood school, this is what is being lost with all these school closings throughout the district.  Having a school right in your neighborhood greatly increases the odds that student attendance will be good, hugely increases the opportunities for parent participation and involvement with their children’s school, lends itself to receiving community support, decreases transportation costs significantly for the district, decreases students’ time on buses (if any is needed) and increases the time students have to participate in after school activities. (which is so much easier for them to do if the school is in their neighborhood.) There is a sense of ownership and pride in one’s school which cannot develop when families do not have the opportunity to be involved due to distance and lack of transportation. (transportation which isn’t necessary if the school is within walking distance)

How did this happen?  this decreasing enrollment?  Where are the students going? To private, church or charter schools seems to be the answer.  Now church and private schools have long been with us, co-existing alongside public education for years, providing an alternative option for those so inclined.  Usually smaller, these private schools didn’t necessarily offer options such as football or band or a performing theater department which require a larger number of students simply to offer the program.  Choices usually involve a trade-off.  Giving up some things in order to gain what might be a better fit for a particular student, such as a smaller educational environment is the prerogative of any parent for their child.

Now here’s where myths and misconceptions enter in.  Private does not mean better (than public) when it comes to education.  A private school is simply an option, which might better meet the needs of some individual students while at the same time not be equipped or able to meet the needs of other students as well as a public school can.  Students with special needs are a case in point.  Public schools are equipped with trained professionals to provide for the needs of students with every kind of learning disability from dyslexia to autism.  Public schools provide speech, language and hearing services as well as services to the physically impaired.  They are required by law to provide an education that is accessible to every student and they have the staff to meet those needs.  Another example is their provision of ESL teachers and classes for all students whose primary language is not English.

Just two weeks ago, I was in a country where school is not available for every child, as it is here in the United States.  Education is not a right there but a privilege for the privileged who have the money to pay the school fees.  Here, even those we consider disadvantaged have access to a free public education.  They are not prevented from going to school and at school they have access to all kinds of services.   For example, the teachers in the schools I work in often stay after school to provide extra help for their students.  This after school tutoring would be costly but these teachers are giving this “after hours” service to their students free of charge on their own time.  In the real world they could charge $40.00 plus an hour for this tutoring and be well within the going rate.

Why has enrollment declined in our public schools?  The idea that private is always better combined with the voucher or school choice program has been the vehicle for much of what has taken place.  The thing is these “vouchers” are paid for with public funds, taxpayer monies which are earmarked for the local, neighborhood public schools.  Those that choose to attend a private or religious school should do so at their own expense.  We are guaranteed an education, but not an expensive, private one.  When I was ready to go to college what was available to me financially was limited to the four state universities in my state. My grades were more than sufficient for me to go anywhere, but financial realities dictated the limits of what was available for me to choose from.  However, I was not denied a more than excellent college experience because of this.  Just because the “perception” that an out of state, private college education would have been superior to what I received does not make it a reality.  The same is true for the students caught up in the public vs. private debate.  Private does not equal better, just different.

As students exit the public schools, so does the funding that follows them where they go.  Charter schools receive the funds due the public schools, but do not provide education for all, but only for those whom they choose to accept.  The public schools are stripped of their resources, resources needed to provide for all their students.  As a taxpayer, I support neighborhood, public schools.  They are good for the community and it is in the best interest of our society to educate ALL children, to insure a prepared workforce and citizens ready to participate fully in a free society.  But I am NOT obligated to send any of them to private schools with my tax dollars.  (my children all graduated from a public high school)

The news that they want to close Broadripple High School is particularly devastating. This high school is the magnate for the performing arts and offers many unique opportunities to its students that just can’t be found anywhere else. These students have the opportunity to participate in band, orchestra, choir, theater, dance and state of the art telecommunications courses as part of their free public education.  The really wonderful thing for the students is that these courses are taught by professionals in their fields, they are getting professional dance instruction as part of their school day, dance lessons that would be cost prohibitive outside of school in the real world.   Students are given private lessons on their chosen instrument or voice or piano lessons during the school day from professional musicians.  These same lessons would be hugely expensive in the real world.  I saw Broadripple H. S.’s production of “Sister Act” this past March and it was great.  What an opportunity for so many students;  from theater, choir, set design (art) lighting, costumes, marketing etc to put their learning into action and benefit the community as well by providing entertainment that was affordable and family friendly.

It’s unthinkable that this community landmark and resource should cease to exist. So much is at stake.  I haven’t even mentioned yet the academic and sports programs which were also thriving.  Nothing brings a community together like basketball does in Indiana!  Broadripple H. S. has a history.  A history that includes David Letterman as an alumnus of the school.  Where are you now Mr. Letterman? We need you.  Time to ride in on your white horse and save the day, well actually the school’s what needs saving, not the day.  This could truly be a “David vs. Goliath” moment, if you know what I mean.  Why must the dollar always dictate our decisions? (the high school sits on a prime piece of real estate in Broadripple. Selling it to developers will push property values, rents, and property taxes still higher in the area and the community will lose the asset of the historical, neighborhood school)  There are more important things than money.  Namely, the things that money can’t buy;  like community spirit,   like a future for our children based on giving them these educational experiences now.

There is so much more to say, dear readers about some of the other public high schools on the chopping block currently.  Public education wasn’t broken,  it’s being systematically defunded while we’re being told that it doesn’t work anymore.  When the funds aren’t there, personnel and programs are let go and it’s the students who lose out.  That’s what’s happening right before our eyes. Hopefully enough of us will wake up and speak out before it is too late.  “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”  includes the right to an education, hopefully at a neighborhood school near you!

“The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out.”    ( Proverbs 18:15)

sincerely,            Grace Day