It’s that time of year again, the time when millions of American moms and dads send their tots off to school with a huge sigh of relief. Many of these parents have the touchingly naïve belief that their offspring are actually receiving a sound education. After all, this is America. We’re the best. Nuff said.

Which is why it must come as a shock when little Johnny eventually grows up and graduates from high school, unable to read his own diploma. Sadly this is happening all over the country, from inner-city Detroit to (I can attest) rural Idaho. Students turn 18 but have less education than eighth-grade students of the 1880s.

The growing inferior quality of public schools is recognized as a serious issue across the political spectrum, from the bluest of the progressives to the reddest of the conservatives. No one argues or disputes that our public school system, with a few shining exceptions, is in shambles.

The disagreement is all in how to fix the problem.

Progressives simply want to throw more money at it. They point out the discrepancies in test results between rich and poor school districts, and want taxpayer money redistributed so that rich suburbs in New Jersey are supporting poor districts in Detroit.

But “more per-pupil spending does not guarantee better academic results,” notes the Buffalo News. Instead, throwing more money at schools merely results in stupid things like hiring diversity coaches, counselors and other nonessential administrators who happily shackle our children into even tighter chains. In the 1970s, the ratio of teachers to non-teacher administrators in a Texas school district was 4 to 1. Today it is 1 to 1.

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In New York state, “the ranks of education administrators have swollen a breathtaking 34 percent over the last 15 years – and they’re overseeing fewer students. … As a result, overall public-school expenditures more than doubled, from $26 billion to $58 billion statewide.” Oh, and producing students who can’t read their own diplomas. Whoo-hoo, what an accomplishment.

Libertarian critics want to get rid of public education entirely. These arguments have merit. Our Founding Fathers quite deliberately did NOT include public education as a responsibility of the federal government because they considered the education of children to be solely the responsibility of the parents … or at best, applicable at the state level via the 10th Amendment.

While I entirely agree with the libertarian argument, I recognize this isn’t likely to happen any time soon. Thanks to 50 years of progressive control of schools, we have a bunch of texting monkeys unable to write a coherent sentence, solve a basic math problem, and who have never heard of John Winthrop (though most of them know precisely who Harvey Milk was). Deprived of a sound education but brainwashed into thinking they turned out just fine, thank you, these voters are not likely to disassemble the cancerous Department of Education that has invaded and dumbed down public schools.

And make no mistake, this dumbing down is deliberate. How else to explain punishing teachers for teaching the curriculum? Clearly determined to make sure children grow up as ignorant as possible, a teacher in Chicago is being charged with “weapons violations” for showing tools to a class of second-graders for a curriculum that required a discussion of tools. For having the temerity to actually (gasp) bring tools into the classroom (wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers, etc.), the teacher faces “disciplinary action and possible termination.”

Yes, God forbid that a required discussion on tools should actually involve real live tools. Better to have kids grow up dumb and unable to use the simplest instruments. If they actually handled a screwdriver or a hammer, they might get the crazy idea they can build their own houses, fix their own plumbing, or otherwise fend for themselves rather than outsourcing everything to China.

Examples of this kind of stupidity are rampant. Over and over again, our children are subjected to the most ridiculous constraints and punishments from school boards, school unions and education departments who will metaphorically assassinate anyone who dares to threaten their power.

Is it any wonder homeschooling has exploded in the last 20 years?

But let’s face it: Homeschooling won’t work for everyone. Many people who are the products of public education are rampantly unqualified to teach their own children. And skyrocketing taxes (otherwise known as “spreading the wealth”) may require both parents to work, thus perpetuating yet another generation of state-educated drones because working parents are forced to send their children to public schools. It’s a circular argument.

So let’s look at a couple of alternatives for fixing a broken educational system.

The most obvious – and frankly the easiest – is to entirely scrap the notion of directly funding school districts and instead attach funding to the child. That way schools are forced to compete for their students. Shocking, I know, yet I can think of no finer and more rapid method of fixing the problem. When schools must compete for students, they will offer higher academic standards to attract parents … and then be forced to actually keep their promises or parents can remove their children and send them elsewhere. Presto, problem fixed.

A second technique at the grass-roots level is to utilize the energy of the tea party but apply it to our school districts instead of our politicians. When a teacher is accused of “weapons violations” for actually teaching what the curriculum requires, tea-party parents should revolt. Pack the school board meetings. Pack the courthouse. Demonstrate. Hold rallies. Tell these public officials (who are our employees) that we won’t put up with their bull.

These are only two ideas. There are many more good ones out there. Do some research. Care about your children’s future. Take personal responsibility.

Because let’s face it: If we do nothing but throw money at the problem, it will simply become a more expensive problem, and billions more dollars will be poured down the rat hole to produce more rats.

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