Curtis Dahlgren
Musings on modern education ("behavioral disorders teachers," etc)?
By Curtis Dahlgren
June 26, 2017

"If you don't know history, you don't know anything." – [Letter to a local newspaper]

USUALLY I skip over the reports on school board meetings, but I didn't know we had to teach behavioral disorders. This time something caught my eye. I forget if it was the annual $34,000,000 budget or the "full-time high school reading interventionist." Far be it from me to be critical of anyone, but call me slightly bemused; if we spend 34 million dollars a year, don't you think kids should know how to read before they get to "high" school? Our one-room school teacher took care of the "behavior" problem on the first day of kindergarten, which allowed her to proceed to start teaching reading – on the first day of kindergarten! Even our intellectually challenged kindergartners knew how to read after the six weeks we got of kindergarten.

The first thing we saw upon entering the room was the alphabet at the top of the blackboard, and we also heard about American history on day one. From recitations by the eight upper classes. I've met three "graduates" of the high school I attended who didn't know what the 4th of July commemorates. They thought it had something to do with the Beatles (they must have had music appreciation classes). Behavior? Our country teacher had no fear of us, nor fear of lawsuits over discipline (WHAT "behavior disorders"?), and the annual budget was peanuts, even though she drove a brand new Kaiser-Fraser.

As for the article in the local paper, I remember what caught my eye: the headline, "Board to study childcare space." I didn't even know that childcare was part of the public school budget, but the board allocated $15,400 to an architect to draw plans for converting three existing rooms into one art room and two rooms for childcare (actual cost of doing the conversion wasn't mentioned). Far be it from me to nit-pick about dollars and cents – this is more about common sense – but this town of 10,000 or so built a high school for $50 million plus interest, and asked for another referendum or two for "expenses" (such as middle school "math interventionists"?). Where I came from, after second grade, it was "WHAT math problems?" (second grade is now advanced-childcare).

Far be it from me to sound like a grumpy old man, but my grade school didn't have a diversity program, a psychologist, an art teacher, a school nurse, or even a basketball – and we had never heard of condoms or sex-change operations (at age 8 or 9, how would we know our gender "orientation" other than that of our role models?). Nowadays, some kids claim to be gay even before they hit puberty. HUH? If nothing else, it's a good way to tweak those old fogies, eh? The inmates are now in charge of the asylum and no one is watching the cash outflow (two of the items in the local school budget include classes for "Spanish Language and Culture" and "Fashion Analysis," not to mention $320 for "middle school bicycle supplies." The retiring school superintendent said:

"I will miss many of the people but, quite honestly, I don't know that I'm going to miss these board meetings."

I wonder why?

P.S. Everybody's a critic these days, but some people may question my credentials. I am qualified to comment because I have a B.S. from HKU – the school of Hard Knocks – and a master's from OSU (the University of the Old School). I'm a PhD (post hole digger). Sometimes known as "Pile it Higher and Deeper"!

© 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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