The most important step to building a sound education system (k-12) is to face the cold hard truth ... the public school cannot educate every child. "No Child Left Behind" is an idealistic facade that doesn't have a prayer. Our schools are infested with pseudo-pedagogy that has given us the "new math" (now on the way out), whole language, unrealistic teacher evaluations, top heavy administrators who are part of the problem and not the solution, and state legislators who want to fund "charter schools" with local tax funds.
The vast majority of four teachers are competent, dedicated and devoted to their work. They love working with our children, and they take pride in their students. Yet they are increasingly asked to do more of what should be the responsibility of the "weak link" in education ... the parents. That's the third rail of education. Everybody knows it but is afraid to say it. There, I just said it. Teachers are expected to teach good behavior, morals, manners, politeness, cooperation, respect, patriotism, sharing, not to mention a firm grasp of the subject matter.
The solution is right there before us. If a child who reaches the third or fourth grade cannot behave, disrupts his class to the detriment of classroom instruction, is repeatedly belligerent to the teacher or administrator, then that child, after a due process hearing, should be sent home ... permanently for the rest of the year.
Such a program would substantially increase teacher retention and would surely improve the "third rail" of education.