Editor’s note: Wausau Pilot & Review gladly publishes commentary from readers, residents and candidates for local offices. The views of readers and columnists are independent of this newspaper and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wausau Pilot & Review. To submit, email editor@wausaupilotandreview.com or mail to 500 N. Third St., Suite 208-8, Wausau, Wis. 54403.

Dear editor,

To answer Matt Straub on his recent letter to the editor supporting Wausau School District restructuring plans: I suppose don’t count at all. I am an 84-year-old graduate of Wausau public schools and live far away across the country. But I also am grandma to six kids whose parents wanted to spend “quality time“ with them wherever they lived. They couldn’t, because so much time was taken up by transportation. Furthermore, I pay taxes in a city that has struggled with this question for forty years.

My own kids walked to grade school, just a few blocks from our home, in the 1960s and 1970s. They walked home as well, sometimes with friends.  It was relaxed and instructive. They survived to tell the tales.

All that changed when people started to forget why we pay taxes. The Me Decade grabbed a hold on their sensibilities.

Nobody asked: 

  • Why should kids, just to save us a few dollars,  have to spend hours on buses or in cars when they could be out playing or doing their homework?
  • Why should parents (or grandparents) be sitting for even two half-hours  a day in slow moving school traffic?

Please read “Bowling Alone,” by Robert D. Putnam, and try to understand all we have lost— all YOU have lost — by making schools “more efficient.” We have lost time for family life. We have lost our kids to their digital distractions. We have lost fellowship with their teachers.

If you want to pare down the cost of education, try out a 10-hour, four day school week with one day a man all-school sports field day when teachers can do their planning. Then Saturdays can be left free for family projects (or league sports, if you insist), and Sundays for rest and relaxation.

We forget: Education happens outside the classroom, too, and  24/7. You have an advantage in Wausau of being in a lovely outdoor environment. Kids can learn a lot from it. From inside cars and buses, not so much.

Karen Helberg Dahood
Class of 1955