Pastoral Letter #20

Dear Members and Friends,


I’ve been thinking about public education and whether public schools should attempt online education or close for the remainder of this academic year. Even this question may not be insightful because it reduces a complex matter into a binary either/or.


Many teachers are also parents with children at home. If someone is teaching from home, how can attention be given to their own child(ren)? If a child at home will need an adult to facilitate their online learning, how is a parent to allocate between helping their child and teaching as their job? How is time on the computer to be divided between teaching parent and one, two or more children? If another adult is also working at home, will a family have access to computers and/or bandwidth for the new demands of home teaching, online learning, and working from home? How will students at home handle online learning if online learning is based on the  the assumptions that (1) all parents are available to facilitate online learning, and (2) that all children have the computer skills to successfully learn at home? Can we expect teachers to spend additional work time learning how to do online teaching?


I admit I don’t know all the dimensions of these issues, but I wonder if an alternative is to set a community goal for education during these out-of-the-school-building days. Can we read and discuss books together? Can we provide social support for family conversation about these books through radio, newspaper, online options, and spontaneous online book discussions? This doesn’t provide learning across the curriculum, but it might set up common goals within the community and within families in which the responsibility for education belongs to everyone. We could have something life affirming in common to do together.


I own that I am ignorant about the challenges of public education. But, having thought a little bit about them, I’ve reached this conclusion. If the Board of Education is responsible for making a decision about online education or ending the academic year now, their decision probably isn’t going to be popular. I’m going to trust the women and men we’ve elected to this public office to do the best they can in an impossible situation. I’m going to be careful not to take out my frustration about being confined to living quarters on those who have made a commitment to serve.

I’m going to say thank you to them for their service and support their decision.



The 10 a.m. Bible study this week takes up the relatively unknown, but very interesting book of Ecclesiastes. This is the vanities of vanities book. I read it as a book of freedom. I’ll send you a Zoom invitation if you’d like.


With gratitude,