Margo Dallos

Dear Margo,

Thank you for your letter and your kind words regarding my competent use of words. I recently read your letter in the Budgeteer and my thoughts will pertain not only to the letter you wrote to me but to that letter as well.

Research cuts both ways. It often supports both sides of an issue and that may be the case in the area of grade configuration. The research I hang my hat on tells me that the most critical factor in education is good programming. I’ll give you an analogy. I don’t know which is best - theater, television, or movies. All I know that when any one of them is done well I’m pleased. So it is with grade configurations. That Edison has chosen this configuration means not a fig to me. What they have seems to work and that is all I care about.

You say that parents have waited for five years for a change in the grade configuration. Tosh! Five years ago I was a parent of a fourth grader about to be among the first guinea pigs sent to Woodland as a middle school fifth grader. I too wrote a letter to the editor talking about my child’s sacrifice. Foolish me. It was the best year my son ever had in school.

When Ms. Dewey made a similar comment recently you excoriated her. You decried the plight of poor children unsuited to a 5-8 program and used them as pawns to argue for a return of all fifth graders to elementary school. In my brief experience I’ve concluded that middle and upper middle class parents are ferocious about getting what they want for their children. Good. If we can’t be passionate about our children what can we feel passion for? But I am offended by the use of poor children to win something for middle and upper middle class children.

When I said to Mr. Peterson, "public education is a bit of a lumbering giant with a tremendous amount of inertia," I was thinking about our poor children. Duluth has a 20 percent drop out rate. These children are figuratively dropped on the ash heap. Doing something for them drives most of my decision making. I will concede that you may be right that keeping them in an elementary school would be better for them. Even so we are hardly in a position to rush a change that turns the whole school system upside down.

You seem to think that our schools are a Gordian knot and that we must take a sword and cleave it in two. I believe our Gordian knot is twined with ropes of children. I’d rather use a scalpel and take a little more time in surgery.


Harry Welty


Duluth School Board

PS. Doesn’t it bother you to be so inconsistent. On the one hand you say that K-5 education is the end all and be all of education, but when it comes to Lakewood School your inclination is to say "Never mind!"