Muslims guard Egyptian churches

This hasn’t been reported nearly enough. Coptic Christmas Eve services (Jan. 7) were peaceful as thousands of Egyptian Muslims guarded Christian churches, in protest of the bombings of Coptic churches on New Year’s Eve.

Teachers’ unions as reformers

A good post from Richard Kahlenberg at The American Prospect:

“Contrary to conventional wisdom on the right — and now the left — unions have actually been at the forefront of education-reform efforts.”

More about teachers

Yesterday I posted a thought about the movie, Waiting for Superman.

I didn’t say enough. There’s an analogy that might help see where I am on teachers.

You may remember that in the 80s and 90s, criticism of American auto makers was high because of poor quality. The entire focus of quality then was on assembly line workers. The media was full of criticism of auto workers who were pictured as lazy and caring nothing about the quality of what they were building. The result was such things as Quality Circles and Employee Involvement, which attempted to fix quality by focusing on the front line people. No one asked how auto workers could build a good car if the design and engineering weren’t of high quality.

That concern with the whole system came later, when the shortcomings of focusing on the assembly line became obvious. Each of the Big 3 engaged in redesigning the product development process.

The similarity to today’s criticism of schools is compelling. Again, we’re blaming the front-line worker, in this case, teachers. We know that when you’re trying to fix a system, you have to look at the whole system. For education, the system includes teachers and administration, but also the community and family. Without addressing poverty and early childhood education, many children are is systems that leave them without the knowledge and skills they need.

Waiting for Superman

I haven’t seen the movie Waiting for Superman yet, and I’m not sure I will. I think the review from The Nation makes good sense about charter schools and teacher unions.

(Full disclosure: I am a union teacher and a strong supporter of public schools.)

More than that, there is much evidence that charter schools are no better than public schools. One of the most effective school reformers is Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

Stuffed Pizza

We tried the stuffed pizza from the King Arthur Flour site. Great! Collette and I have some differences over pizza: She prefers simple pizzas, cheese and nothing else. I like pizzas with a lot of toppings. So there was some concern over the stuffed pizza. It has cheese, of course, plus sausage and spinach.

Not to worry. We both loved it.

Stuffed Pizza

Stuffed Pizza

It’s a two crust pizza, with sausage, mozzarella and spinach in the middle. Cover the top crust with tomato sauce and grated parmesan cheese.

Stuffed pizza

Stuffed pizza

The recipe is at

Let me know how yours turns out, or better, post your comments on the King Arthur blog.

Introducing Stephen Ministry

(Article written for St. John’s Episcopal Church, Royal Oak, MI, newsletter, News & Views.)

Stephen Ministry is coming to St. John’s.

Stephen Ministry is a way to extend pastoral care to people who need someone who is willing to listen and support them. Stephen Ministers complete 50 hours of training and then serve as lay care givers in a supervised, confidential ministry. Care receivers may be struggling with illness, aging, family issues, death of a loved one, or other problems. Stephen Ministers are not counselors, but caring listeners. They do not cure, they care.

At St. John’s we are adopting Stephen Ministry as a way of extending pastoral care beyond the clergy. We have ministries that do some of this already, with Mending Hearts and the Looking for Work group, for example. Stephen Ministry cannot replace these wonderful groups, but it can provide pastoral care individually where that is needed.

Stephen Ministries have been in operation for over 30 years, in thousands of churches of every denomination.  I just returned from a week of training as a Stephen Leader. Kathy Stricker will be going to the training in April. The 150+ lay and ordained people I trained with represent over 30 church bodies. One of the impressions I carried away from the training is the focus on providing a distinctly Christian ministry to hurting people. Those of us gathered last week might agree on very little of our theology, worship, music, or many other aspects of our faith. We never discussed those things. Yet we could meet, learn, pray and share together, united in our common desire to bring Christ’s love to others and see the face of Christ in those who are in need.

I think this is a great program that will be of great benefit to St. John’s and its people. You’ll be hearing more about it in the next several months.

Healthy veggie tart

Collette’s taking a nutrition class so we’re eating better foods.

This recipe for a zucchini and swiss chard tart is really great to eat and seems healthy. What I really liked about it is the crust, which contains whole wheat flour and is really a yeast recipe. Don’t worry if you’re not used to working with yeast breads; you make it with a mixer and it’s duck-soup simple.

The result is a savory vegetable tart with a crust that is much lighter than it has any right to be.

I want to try the crust with other savory recipes, like quiches, which we sometimes avoid because of the high-fat crusts.

Family reunion

We have to miss the Wise family reunion June 13-14 in Calhoun county, IL.

I have posted a page with information and pictures about the Detroit branch of the family. You can comment here. Authorized users (Wise family or wannabees) can comment at the site for the reunion.

Welcome, friend

I have avoided starting a blog for several years, even though friends suggested I write one.

You see, most blogs have a particular focus. I read blogs about politics, technology, teaching and learning, and faith. I didn’t see that my blog would have a singular focus like those that I read. Then I saw Jan Nunley’s blog. It was what I wanted to do. She writes about a variety of topics, and in a real sense gave me permission to start my blog.

I have a lot going on in my life and I’ll write about them. I’m program chair in Instructional Technology at Wayne State University, specializing in interactive technologies for learning. I’m deacon at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Royal Oak, Michigan, having moved to the Episcopal Church after most of a lifetime as a Lutheran. I am a liberal-to-progressive Democrat, news junkie, and bread baker, gardener, and foodie.

I’ll write about those things and other things as I think I have something to say.

Read those posts that you find interesting and ignore the rest. It’s OK.

Tell me what you think. I’ll listen, read, respond and expect you to push back.