Well, eliminating the Department of Education and having the states and local municipalities decide what to do is a "would do" answer.
As for advice for the states and local municipalities... beats me. But that's their responsibility.
Actually, public education is left to the states and municipalities as it has been since the founding of the country. The DOE provides resources, suggests curricula but prior to NCLB and now Race To The Top, there was no top down DOE strategy.
The reality is that having thousands of local school boards, each of hotbed of political activity both right and left, is not serving the interests of our country at all. I work in education reform and part of why public education is seen as a money pit is that there are virtually no universal standards. Even what is considered proficient is usually locally decided, opening up lots of manipulation of data, and dumbing down of test scores. Meanwhile, our kids don't learn history or civics anymore. Our percentage of kids fluent in a second language is abominable and most kids graduate high school with little understanding of the basics of global relations, economics, sex ed, etc.
I think our first step as a country would have to be to increase both school year and school day and develop a standard as to what we expect American kids to be proficient in before they graduate high school.
This, Christian, is why I highly respect you as a poster. Speaking from a personal level, I've met people from all over the country; mostly Texas though (for some reason, I swear I'm one of the few people from my hometown who don't have roots down there) and my high school classmates have told me that the schools down there suck
. That's why they wind up in Minnesota- because the school system as a whole up in Minnesota is better than down in Texas. Even locally it still depends from district to district. I grew up in a house that's on the border between two districts- one is rather large and is also hit-and-miss, whereas the other basically has had its ass kissed many times over by magazines like Newsweek. Technically the school whose ass has been kissed is closer. Where was I districted? The shitty school with school spirit.
I looked them both up and talked to people from both schools, and I believe that being sent to the shitty school that's farther away left me behind a little more compared to the better school that's closer. (Also I would have saved so much
on gas) The point being that if my old high school was like the other high school, or if the Texans had high schools that were as good as said high school, then I believe I probably would have been at a better advantage. So investing in similar education standards- whether you're in Minnesota or Mississippi- can work and I think it'll put students at an advantage- especially for military families that move around a lot.