Curtis Dahlgren
A report card on Public Education (nothing to write home about)
By Curtis Dahlgren
June 30, 2010

"What's this country coming to?" — Senator Robert Byrd

SOME KIDS BORN IN 1980 ARE ALREADY "GRAND" PARENTS. A school board in Massachusetts evidently thinks the solution is handing out free condoms to elementary school kids (normally called "children" when talking about free breakfast, lunch, and dinners). What is wrong with this whole picture?

You can call me an old geezer, even if I'm not as old as Sen. Byrd was. My grandparents were born in the late 1870s and 80s. They could have been contemporaries of Lincoln, if Abe hadn't been shot. My grandparents, all of whom chose to immigrate here legally from Sweden, were born about 30 years after the death of John Quincy Adams — who was 12 years old at the time of the Declaration of Independence!

Call me a grumpy old man, but my parents didn't finish high school, and they were a lot more literate than today's college freshmen. I've known three high school grads who didn't know what the 4th of July commemorates. And they didn't know what "commemorates" meant even. Something's wrong when the Wisconsin Education Assn. Council has to spend big bucks bragging about their "great schools."

The Milwaukee public schools now rank below the D.C. schools, but "at least they're not Detroit." And about that: It is no coincidence that the state with the nation's worst school system became the one with the highest unemployment rate. A lot of that unemployment had nothing to do with the auto industry problems. It was partly due to unionized teachers who can't be fired.

I say "was," because Michigan can now say, "At least we're not Nevada" (which has an even higher unemployment rate, thanks to the war on tourism). Most of us "right wingers" saw this recession coming four or five years ago, thanks to the rising gasoline prices — and that no thanks to the politicians running the Department of Energy!

In his first inaugural address, James Monroe said, "Had the people of the United States been educated in different principles, had they been less intelligent, less independent, or less virtuous, can it be believed that we should have maintained the same steady and consistent career or been blessed with the same success?

"While, then, the constituent body retains its present sound and healthful state everything will be safe. They will choose competent and faithful representatives for every department. It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising the sovereignty.

"Usurpation is than an easy attainment, and an usurper soon found. The people themselves become the willing instruments of their own debasement and ruin."

They called it "progressive education" in the 20th century, but it has become "something else." I attended a one-room country school in the 1940s and 50s. It wasn't progressive. We learned how to read in six weeks of kindergarten. The teacher never "read to us." We started reading the sounds of the vowels to her from "DAY ONE." And I graduated eighth grade with a grade equivalency of first-month-grade-12; many kids in Detroit and other cities are seven grades behind in reading proficiency. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

I paid tuition in order to attend a school close to home, except across the district line, and the cost was a couple hundred bucks. Today we spend about $13,000 per pupil per year (more in some cities) and the kids are illiterate. This may be a dumb question, but WHY?

Our highly paid school administrators blame the parents, but here's another dumb question: Didn't those parents attend your same public schools? Evidently those people were taught by "different principles" than James Monroe's generation, meaning they weren't 'exposed' to any civic responsibilities. Speaking of that:

The Detroit Free Press (6/19/10) had this main headline: DPS board chief regrets lewd act. To make a long story short, the school board president unzipped his pants [etc] in a one-on-one meeting with the Detroit schools superintendent. For some reason, he was told to resign, but another board member says:

"He's a young man; maybe he didn't know it was offensive to her. It's not something I would do. He's a young man. That's just the way it is."

Yes "the kids are going to do it anyway," they say, but in this case the kid is 55 years old, and his defender is a "Reverend." Kid you not. Can't make this stuff up, but do you need any further evidence that moral relativism and educational failure go "hand in hand"?

The school board was already fighting for its life — and its money — and this isn't going to help them avoid a takeover by Mayor Dave Bing. The school board president was too illiterate to write a decent letter of resignation.

Homeschooler Debra Smith wrote, "Liberals want us to be a progressive people. But they are actually taking us way back to a time in history that we had 'progressed' out of . . .

The progress of today is a trip back to before we were a civilized people. True progress happened in 1776." [ ]

BINGO! Have a hearty fourth of July.

America, you're "too young to die"!

© Curtis Dahlgren


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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)


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