Just a Few Regrets · 6 February 2016

Photo courtesy Margie Miyoshi

I wish that I had called more
   Just to say, “Hello”
I wish that I had visited more
   Though there were miles to go
I wish that I had been more
   Of a devoted son
I wish that I had prayed more
   That God’s will would be done

I wish that I could tell you
   That no regrets have I
But if I said it, we both know
   That it would be a lie
So instead I’ll do my best
   To live my life like you
But I am sure I’ll still have regrets
   Before my life is through

But you have been my witness
   From the Good Lord up above
You have done all that you could
   To show others of God’s love
You have been Christ’s hands and feet
   Doing what you were supposed to do
His open arms were there to greet you
   Now that your life is through

So now it is my turn to do
   The best job that I can
To be the hands and feet of Christ
   For every woman, every man
To show God’s love with word and deed
   To children great and small
I want to be just like you
   Giving love to all

So even though I didn’t call enough
   Just to say, “Hello”
And even though I did not visit more
   Because there were miles to go
I will be a more devoted son
   To Mom and God above
I pray that I will live more like you
   Living a life that shows God’s love

© 2016 Michael T. Miyoshi

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Death Is Not Natural · 30 January 2016

After thinking about my own earthly father’s mortality, I have come to the conclusion that death is not natural.

We have been convinced through countless generations of living and dying that dying is just a natural part of life. I would contend that it is a lie. Death was never part of the plan. God told the original people to be fruitful and multiply. In the beginning, He never said anything about going back to being the dust of the earth. He just said to be fruitful.

Oh. And he told them not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Therein lies the rub. When it comes right down to it, when people chose to disobey God, they chose death. They knew the consequences and yet they did it anyway. The original sinners (they were both together at the first bite) chose to be apart from God, which is death.

I suppose that lesson of natural consequences falls on deaf ears even today. We know the hazards of certain actions, and yet we do them anyway. We know if we spit in the wind, we will get spit on ourselves. We know if we eat too much, we get indigestion. We know if we watch too much TV, our brains rot. Yet we do them all anyway. And we take the consequences.

Which is what we have been doing since the beginning. We look for love in all the wrong places instead of looking for God to fill the God-sized hole in each of us. We choose death instead of life.

Which is what I started talking about in the beginning.

Death is not natural. We have just known it for so long that we believe it is. We know that with the exception of two people (Enoch and Elijah), everybody dies. All but those two have ended up turning back to dust. And so we think that death is natural.

Somebody could probably point out the theological flaws in my thinking, but I would argue that the text backs me up. That the first man and woman chose to disobey and thus chose death. It is all right there. (Read Genesis.)

Even if people do not agree with my theological premise, they can feel it in their hearts. We all know deep inside that death is not natural. Even if it is normal. We know because we feel it when we lose loved ones. It is that pain that comes from grief. From the loss of relationships when people die. We know we cannot be with our loved ones again. We know only their memories remain. No matter how much we wish it was not so.

I am certain that I cannot be the next one to please God enough not to see death. For all have sinned. And even though the blood of Christ has washed away my sin, I am flawed. Too flawed to come into the Father’s presence on my own merit. And yet, all I ask, all I live for is that when I stand to be judged, the Lord says to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

As I think of my earthly father and his mortality, I think of him in front of our heavenly Father. I look at his children and grandchildren, his friends and his family, and I hope that God sees what I see. I hope that God says to Dad when he leaves his frail earthly body, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” For that is the man I see even as I watch what could be his final days on earth.

I know that my relationship with my earthly father will continue even after he is gone. I know that I will see him again when we both stand before our heavenly Father. For we have both chosen to serve the living God. We have both chosen to follow God’s original intent and have a relationship with Him. A relationship that will last through eternity.

I do not know how long I have with my dad, but I know we will meet again when he leaves. And regardless of what everybody says, I know that while death may be normal, it is not natural. For God never intended it to be.

© 2016 Michael T. Miyoshi

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Tests, Tests, and More Tests · 23 January 2016

Dear Legislators and Policy Makers:

So called “New Matura” (original size 600 × 369 pixels)
by Marcin Otorowski licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Thank you for the wonderful job you are doing reforming education, especially the way you have placed high-stakes testing in its rightful place on our list of priorities.

I have been an educator for twenty years and in all that time, I have not come across anything that makes more sense than giving students more high-stakes tests. I am sure all the stakeholders – parents, teachers, students, administrators, employers, taxpayers, and of course, textbook and test publishers – would agree that making test passing the number one priority in education will solve all the problems that schools have. Here are just a few ways people benefit from this priority.

I am sure school administrators love the fact that they are now confined to their offices trying to schedule everything around tests and teacher evaluations. The new teacher evaluations tied to the testing regime make it practically impossible for administrators to leave their offices for any reason and ties them to their beloved computers. Administrators love to push digital paper around filling out forms on their one or two required observations of each staff member. They love to sit in front of their computers pressing buttons and filling in screens about what went on in the short times they visited a classroom. And they love to schedule everything around the all important tests. Gone are the days when administrators roamed the halls talking to students and dropping in on teachers.

Teachers benefit from the high-stakes tests as well. Those evaluations and scheduling problems keep administrators out of our classrooms where they might see some learning happening. And the tests are a marvelous boon. Gone are the days of teaching students how to think on their own and how to become learners. It is so much easier to be a teacher now when all we need to worry about is how to get through the endless paperwork and teach kids how to press the correct buttons on all those important tests. Teaching students to think is out of the question and that makes our job so much easier than it used to be before the tests.

Students and parents love the tests too. They especially like the fact that they do not have as many class days devoted to thinking and learning. Students often get to miss classes or arrive to school late because there are so many testing days. (A good portion of twenty or more days are dedicated to testing in our high school.) Students like the fact that once they learn the methods of taking these tests well, they can check out mentally. They can leave the learning behind and cruise through their education because they know how to perform on tests. An added bonus is that they and their parents can be proud their schools are doing so well on the reports generated from those tests.

Employers and taxpayers love those test reports too. They can see where their hard-earned tax dollars are going. Test scores rise as teachers teach to the tests. They are happy that future employees and taxpayers can take tests so well. They are happy that so many data points are available to show how well these students will perform outside the classroom. I am sure they do not believe the critics who say that there are already tests out there to determine how well students will perform inside or outside education. SAT, ACT, ASVAB are merely acronyms to them. The tests they represent certainly cannot predict as much about a student’s success as the current high-stakes tests. Nor can student attendance records or transcripts give any clue as to how good an employee a student might become. I am sure those employers and taxpayers stand behind the tests along with all those directly involved in education.

Which is why I am sure that none of the stakeholders begrudge the test and textbook publishers any of the money they are making with the proliferation of high-stakes tests. After all, nobody complains when the money is being well spent or going to a good cause. And nobody questions that high-stakes testing is a good cause. After all, everybody keeps telling us that education needs to be fixed, and how can we measure any fix except through testing? Besides, everybody believes that these publishers have the students’ and indeed all the stakeholders’ best interests at heart. What does it matter that they are lining their pockets with gold.

Thank you again legislators and policy makers on behalf of all the stakeholders of education and high-stakes testing. We appreciate all you have done to ensure that the citizenry of these United States are able to take tests well and thus engage in a productive society. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.


Michael T. Miyoshi
a.k.a. MediocreMan

P.S. If you did not understand that this letter was dripping with sarcasm and irony, you can thank your teachers for teaching you how to take tests and not teaching you anything about Mark Twain or Jonathan Swift.

© 2016 Michael T. Miyoshi

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