Ideas to Save America – Education

Richard Salbato April 27, 2010

Anyone who watched the News everyday as I do cannot help but notice that almost everyday there is some horrid news about our schools.  Unless you spend all your time listening to music and just don’t care about anything else, you will remember mass shootings on High School and College campuses where many have been killed. You must remember how many of our children have been attacked by gangs and sent to hospitals, or committed suicide because of bullying and abuse at schools.  Every few months we get the news that some child has been sexually abused by a teacher, a janitor or a staff member.

Thanks to cell phones we have now seen disrupted kids in classes and even a female student beating up a school teacher. How can you learn in this environment?  

Almost every month we get the news that 35 to 50% of students are dropping out of schools, and a large number of students cannot read or write but are graduating.  In fact in the industrialized world America has gone from the number one educated nation to almost the last. 

The results of this system can be seen when professional players talk on TV and cannot speak English.  Not only this but I constantly hear bad English by TV Broadcasters and even congressmen.  However, TV news commentators have done a great job in pointing out the ignorance of the average American by asking the most simple grammar school questions and young adults cannot answer them.

If you pay attention you can only conclude that the American Public School System is a hazard to our children’s heath, life, mental stability, morals and even education. Not to mention the brain washing that goes on in schools and the false history and false science. In fact schools today are called jails because mostly you have to go to school by law, and you cannot choose the school, and you have no say in what is taught or who teaches. To add the ultimate insult to all the above we pay more tax dollars per student than any other nation in the world.

In fact the cost of the public school system has gone up so much that the states and counties can no longer afford them.  In the so-called 800 billion dollar stimulus bill, which was to create jobs, it only saved government jobs, mostly school teachers and that has already been eaten up in less than a year.  Now 300,000 school teachers are about to be laid off and hundreds of schools will have to be closed for lack of money.

Think about what you get for your tax money and then consider where it goes.  It goes mostly to teachers and staff, and not just to pay but mostly to extreme retirement plans. Consider that a teacher can contribute 100,000 dollars to their retirement and medical plans and then (on the average) collect 2,000,000 dollars after they retire. In some states or counties the yearly budget for schools includes more money for those already retired than all the rest of the school budget combined. 

Most of us are at a loss to understand what to do about this because we do not know the history of the problem.  In fact, because of our school system, most of us do not know any American history, let alone the history of our school system, and its relationship to our Constitution.  When you look at the true history you will have to note the relationship between public education and religious faith.  

Before getting into the history of American public education I want to say that my radical ideas to quickly fix the system, you have to know the history, expecially the time between when we were the best until now.


The first Americans settled here in 1607 and it was not until 30 years later that the first school was established to teach reading and religion.  Harvard College was started and Henry Dunster taught all the classes.  Massachusetts passed the first law on schools requiring all parents to teach the principles of religion and the laws of the government at home or in a group but offered no tax money for this.  Other private colleges were founded by private money, mostly for Religion and basic education.

By the time of the revolution, the constitution and the bill of rights in 1791 there were many town schools and colleges but all were private and none were paid for by taxes.  The constitution and the bill of rights make no mention of schools whatsoever.  However, the 10th Amendment infers that this is a State right and not Federal.

As for states, Massachusetts led the way by passing a law for towns to establish schools and later a law of mandatory attendance.  It was not until the 20th Century that all states had mandatory attendance.  In 1867 The Department of Education was established but only to give advice to the states.  In 1874 Michigan State became the first state to allow tax payer money to go to schools but this took a Supreme Court ruling before it was allowed.

For over 100 years the nation had one of the best school systems in the world and created the most successful nation in every aspect of judgment in the world.  In 1916, however, John Dewey published a book on education advancing the ideas of the "progressive education movement." An outgrowth of the progressive political movement, progressive education seeks to make schools more effective agents of socialism.  

The first Federal tax money for schools came in 1917 providing federal funding for agricultural and vocational education. It was later repealed in 1997.  In 1919 The Progressive Education Association was founded to socialize education.  These acts from 1916 to 1919 were the first Federal encroachment into schools.

It was not until 1944 and the GI bill that large amounts of Federal money went to schools.  

It was not until the late 1960s under Lyndon Johnson that the Federal Government vastly infiltrated the nations school systems with money and control with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)  providing federal funds to help low-income students, which results in the initiation of educational programs such as Title I and bilingual education. Then in The Higher Education Act (PL 89-329) increasing federal aid to higher education, scholarships, student loans, the National Teachers Corps., and massive controls with the money.  This included Project Head Start, a preschool education program for children from low-income families, the Veterans Readjustment Benefits Act of 1966, providing educational benefits, The Bilingual Education Act, repealed in 2002.  All this from 1962 to 1968. 

Right after this massive expantion of the Federal government came a backlash from people who saw that the system was no longer working for their children.  In 1968 the first Magnet School was opened, letting parents pick their choice of schools, and Ivan Illich called for an end to compulsory school attendance.   Newsweek's cover story, "Why Johnny Can't Write," heats up the debate about national literacy and the back-to-the-basics movement.

In 1980 Ronald Reagan  was elected president, ushering in the conservative era, and pledged to reduce the federal role in education by eliminating the Department of Education.  He could not get it passed through the house but he tried.

However, in 1981 John Holt's book, Teach Your Own: A Hopeful Path for Education, started the homeschooling movement.  The Milwaukee Parental Choice program was initiated allowing students to attend at no charge, private sectarian and nonsectarian schools located in the city of Milwaukee. Then Minnesota passes the first "charter school" law.

In the year 2000 Diane Ravitch's wrote  Left Back: A Century of Failed School Reforms , criticizing progressive educational policies and argues for a more traditional, academically-oriented education.

In 2002 the Supreme Court ruled that certain school voucher programs are constitutional.


As you can see from the history the American School System was the best in the world until the Federal Government got heavily involved in the late 1960s. The next biggest problem is the Teachers Unions. The solution to this problem cannot be simple but must be radical.  I will use the best system in the world (Hong Kong) as my guide.

1. Close the Federal Department of Education and all other Federal Education Departments. If that cannot be done because of Obama, then shut off all funding to these departments, which have to be voted on each and every year.

2. Eliminate Mandatory School Attendance. We say we have mandatory school attendance but we allow 35 to 50% of our children to drop out of school without reproductions.  Why then should we keep a child in school who does not want to be there?  Why do we look the other way as one child disrupts the entire class and abuse the other children?

I don’t care if the child is in the first grade, if he does not obey the rules, send him home until the parents teach him to behave himself.  School is not a right, it is a privilege.  We have the right to equal opportunity, not equality at any cost.  If my family can teach a one year old hipper child to not talk in church, you can teach your child to not talk in class.

3. Pass the Voucher System so that parents can send their children to the school of THEIR CHOICE. All we want is the best education in the world and we don’t care if that is in public schools or private schools.  We don’t care if it is home schooling, which right now is the best.  But we don’t want to be forced to do it your way, we are the ones who love our children and we want to do it our way.

4. Remove Grammar Schools and High Schools from any State Government money or controls and leave them to the towns or cities.  Give State Governments only Public College money and control.  This has to be done first so that we give control back to the parents who can deal with city governments but not state governments.  Most GS and HS money comes from local property tax already so this can be done easily. 

5. Remove all mandatory laws regarding school sports and even gym classes. Everyone knows that kids need physical activity but they can get this anywhere.  If the parents want a school with football, basket ball, etc., they can choose this but if they want a school with only basic education they should be allowed to do that.  Maybe they will choose a school that is heavy in music but has no sports. Parents should have that choice.  Coming from a guy that played everything in HS and College this may seem strange but think about this.

The best school systems in the world have no sports on school grounds – Germany, Japan, China, Hong Kong, PI, Singapore, etc.   They do have government sports programs but not on the same property of education schools. Most private schools have sports programs but not on school property.  How many days a year is a huge football stadium used?

6. Give parents the right to choose the books and curriculum taught to their children. A group of parents can always do a better job of deciding the curriculum that governments or even teachers.  Of course parents will want the input of a good teacher but they want the control of their kids and not others. 

7. Eliminate Geographical Schools where parents have to send their children to one school because it is in an area arbitrarily layed out by the government.  This takes away the greatest cure to schools which it free choice – free choice for the school, the teacher, the environment.

8. Expand the school year and class hours. If you figure out the total days a year that our children go to school it is less than half a year, 183 days. So teachers get a years wage for half a year’s work.

8. Place Internet Cameras in all school classrooms so that any parent can monitor live what the teacher and students are doing and record it.

9. Eliminate mandatory Teaching Degrees.  Almost any college degree in almost anything can qualify you to be a teacher in our system.  An Engineer Degree or a Home Economics Degree can also be called a teaching degree. The best teacher I ever had was in college, where I took classes in Computer AutoCAD design and he never went to college. Let parents pick teachers without regard for degrees.   

10. Some schools might be run by Cisco Conference Systems.  Let us assume a group of 40 families wants to have a school within walking distance of their homes but they cannot get a teacher to come into their area.  They then could go to the internet and hire a teacher from anywhere in the world to hold live classes on the interactive conference systems.  In this system they can talk back and forth and the teacher sees the students and the students see the teacher all live.  In this case some parent has to be in the back of the room for discipline but the cost would be very low.

11. School Clinics will evolve when parents have control.  We have football clinics, tennis clinics and baseball clinics but no education clinics.  Like the sports clinics, let us visualize a clinic where you can send your child for an intense one or two week course in English from one of the best teachers in the nation. These can be two types, one for children who have problems and one for children who are why ahead of their age group. 

12. If we did most of the above – free choice, parental control, and discipline by removing those who do not want to learn, I have a Vision of Future, where children can learn in the area of their ability and interests so that they can best have a good financial and happy life when they are finished.  Some in the farm communities might want an education that prepares for farming or ranching, and others for manufacturing or computers.

Other Good Idea Sources

There are many people working on this problem and if you would like I suggest some good organizations;

The Yankee Institute published a list of ten questions you should ask your local school board. Stopping School Corruption: A Manual for Taxpayers.

Alliance for School Choice,

Excellent Education for Everyone,

National Alliance for Public Charter Schools,

Center for Education Reform,

Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.

Black Alliance for Educational Options

Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options

Buy and see the video “The Cartel”  

For more Ideas to Save American go to