I think dissection is pointless in school. I've cut up dead animals in middle school, high school, and college. Most of the time, the kids were more interested in mutilating the bodies (cutting off heads, arms, etc.) than looking at the organs.
I just finished taking a college level human anatomy course. No human cadavers were used, and I was still able to learn how the human body functions and where the organs are located in the body cavaties. We used anatomically correct plastic life size body models with plastic organs and I learned all the basics of the body with no problem. We were also shown videos of moving hearts, digestive organs, etc. and pictures of real dissected humans. I was able to learn without cutting anything up. Can't we do the same for animals to teach kids in school?
When my sister entered Vet school, they dissected cats and dogs that were euthanized at the pet shelter. Since these animals were going to be cremated otherwise, I felt their deaths at least taught these student vets how to perform the procedures they would be doing in a few years.
I will be starting dental school in July and we start gross anatomy the 2nd week. I will have to dissect a real human from the neck up. The reason I don't feel bad is because this person consented and donated their body to science.
I feel dissection should be reserved for students who will be actually having to work in a medically related profession. If others are interested, they can look up videos and pictures in the library or the Internet. Most of the kids in the classes where I had to dissect did not appreciate what they were observing, and they disrespected the bodies of the animals (snapping arms and legs, decapitation...). I just found this unnecessary.
Sorry for the ramble.