After being a public school teacher and having to fight to do what I needed to do to help children until I finally gave and recent stories about children becoming activists to get an education, two from Detroit, I'm convinced that public education's purpose is not to educate children but to "house" and train them to follow instructions, group think, and stand in line. The only time I required my second graders to stand in line as a first year teacher was during fire drills and when there was an assembly and the halls were full. Otherwise, they went down the hall however they liked. They were kids, not soldiers.
However, I think my job as a teacher was to prepare them to be soldiers in the eyes of some administrators and even some parents. I got flack for not having my students say the Pledge of Allegiance when I started teaching third grade. My approach was to teach my students what the Pledge meant, line by line, as a lesson in reading comprehension and have them tell me what they thought they were pledging "allegiance" to as a lesson in critical. The principal thought I was a communist or some other kind of dissident. I just wanted to teach my students to think.
Now, it's lack of the kinds of thinking skills i was trying to teach that have our average students lagging behind students in many European and Asian countries. Yet, even now, it's hard to teach those skills consumed by teaching students to pass tests so they won't lose government funding and/or students to charter schools. Students graduate from high school without the prerequisite skills for college and have to take remedial classes to learn basic things like reading comprehension, critical thinking, and basic writing and rudimentary math skills, the very things I taught as a teacher.
I'm a doctoral student in a grant program that's focused on improving the teaching of science in primary grades. Why? Because this country's economic future depends on our producing more Thomas Edisons, Henry Fords, George Washington Carvers, and Lonnie Johnsons (inventor of the Super Soaker) to put us back on top in innovation (now, Singapore holds that distinction!) and regain our previous economic standing in the global economy.
That any legislator would sabotage efforts to close the global achievement between our average students and students in other countries by not supporting funding education is not only idiotic and obscene, it's an act of treason.