(Feature letter published in USA TODAY, January 29, 2001)

By putting his education agenda on the national table can President Bush ease the strangle hold of the teacher unions and the education establishment? Indeed, the problem being confronted is so long term, immense and deeply ingrained that it will take much more than a federal hammer to create quality production in the country's factories of ignorance.

President Bush and former president Clinton's "boomer generation" are largely responsible for the failure of public education in America. Spurred by a few radical professors, 60's and 70's student revolutionaries dismantled the nation's colleges and universities, took them over, gutted academics and replaced them with social experiments in the name of reform.

Those same revolutionaries have been educating the nation's teachers, and those teachers have been educating teachers about "how" to teach, not "what" to teach for two generations. And their "how to teach" agenda included social promotion and outcome based education, completely ignoring the necessary content of what students must know to make it in society: reading, writing, math and science.

So, neither vouchers nor testing are worth the paper they are written on unless the quality content of education is firmly ensconced in the minds of educators, students and parents. Indeed, the whole of society is responsible for the failure of public education by allowing the education tragedy to happen.

Clearly, the solutions to education rest with working both ends of the spectrum, from the first grade to teacher colleges. The middle ground can be picked up with the best well-compensated teachers and more competition with direct education over the Internet. Certainly, we can no longer abide the power and self-interest of the education establishment over the education of our children, our future.

Alas, we simply cannot keep pouring funds into the great lumbering mass of institutions, which have turned out to be little more than a vast network of money pits. Education must be kept on the table in every community, every state and the nation by a combination of real educators, voters, parents and taxpayers, which means all of us.

Daniel B. Jeffs, founder
The Direct Democracy Center