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Unless and until we rethink the meaning of public education and refocus on teaching and learning, public school “systems” will remain struggling behemoths. The White House and Congress don’t hand out free money; strings are always attached.

Think about shopping options.

Warehouse outlets like Costco offer better deals if you buy in bulk (traditional public schools), but other retail outlets (boutiques, organic food stores and specialty shops that adhere to the teachings of your faith) often can better meet the needs of your family.

We weigh our options and make our purchases.

Yet, we keep thinking our children are better off in one-size-fits-all public school systems.

“Systems” do not change, and the federal education bureaucracy in Washington is inherently designed to ensure they don’t.

National politicians — Republicans, Democrats and independents alike — created the policies and the laws that put us in this mess, and card-carrying union members, who are like politicians, help sustain it. Don’t expect either group to do anything that puts their jobs at risk.

Are our public school “systems” biting off more than they can chew?

You better bet they are. But what are you going to do about it?

Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.