News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Back to the future in education

The other morning I heard an education contributor on CNN ranting that we, the public, supply money not to maintain buildings to keep a bunch of entrenched adults comfortable, but for the children so that they can get the best education possible.  He was speaking about vouchers which he contended could wrest education from the control of entrenched unions.

The constant characterization of teachers as a privileged group who lives luxuriantly comfortable lives, as if they were CEOs of our corporations, is a prejudicial falsehood about a class of people.  It fits into the category of the mythology of malevolence that insists that people of  color smell bad, steal whenever possible, cheat at everything, and are too inferior to do anything else.  The speaker on CNN, Dr. Steve Perry presents himself as a leader of educational reform, but one must wonder just what schools he is acquainted with to justify those characterizations.  He seems just another of those voices that disdains the teacher corps because they are part of the working middle class which is so detested as the cause of all ills in the minds of American conservatives.

This kind of general denigration of teachers and unions requires one to ask just what role those critics see for teachers and just who they expect to fill it.   It is as if supporting and developing a teacher corps that is anything but a bonded servant corps is an outrageous luxury that the miscreants who try to educate kids do not deserve.

There is historical precedent for this concept.  It is laid out in the following two examples of rules for teachers that were common in the late 1800s:

1. Teachers each day will fill lamps and clean chimneys.

2. Each teacher will bring a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal for the day’s session.

3. Make your pens carefully. You may whittle nibs to the individual taste of the pupils.

4. Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly

5. After ten hours in school, the teachers may spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books.

6. Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed.

7. Every teacher should lay aside from each pay a goodly sum of his earnings for his benefit during his declining years so that he will not become a burden on society

8. Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barbershop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intention, integrity and honesty

9. The teacher who performs his labor faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of twenty-five cents per week in his pay, providing the Board of Education approves.




(Before or After School Session)

Wash windows & clean classroom with soap  and water once a week.

Check outhouses daily. (Plenty of old cata­logues are available at School Board office.)


(Forbidden Wear in Public at All Times)


(1)A bathing costume

(2) Bloomers for cycling

(3) Skirts slit to expose ankles

(4) Bustle extension over 10 inches


(1) Detachable collar & neck tie removed from shirt

(2) Shirt sleeves unlinked & rolled

(3) Hair closely cropped (unless bald or have disease of the scalp)


(Cause for Immediate Dismissal)

* Smoking of cigarettes, use of spirits, frequenting of pool or public dance halls.

* Marriage or other unseemly behaviour by women teachers.

* Joining .of any Feminist Movement, such as the Suffragettes.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States