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The slogan “Children First” has become a mockery. It’s time to think like a sprinter, not a marathoner.

Consider, for a moment, what would happen if taxpayers who have no school-age children could retrieve their portion of public school dollars and hand over that money to parents whose children are stuck in a “crappy” public school system for use at whatever school, public or private, the parents choose.

Radical, surely. But so was Jefferson, the foresightful forefather of public education who, nearly 225 years ago, laid the foundation for public education and the establishment of public schools.

“I think by far the most important bill in our whole code, is that for the diffusion of knowledge among the people. No other sure foundation can be devised for the preservation of freedom and happiness.”

-Deborah Simmons can be reached at