The American public school machine has been tasked with churning out students ready to compete on the world stage, but-- unlike our competitors in Europe and Asia-- we we are not allowed to filter the raw materials which we place in the machine. EVERY kid, regardless of ability is somehow to be transformed into a college grad. We are further hampered in our ability to oil and tune the machinery by unions and politically motivated groups. The former forces us to keep defective parts; the latter insists on deferring resources for "feel good" programs like "Black History Month", "Red Ribbon Week", "Hispanic Heritage Week", etc... All noble efforts in their own right, but neither time, nor money is bountiful... So something's gotta give! Moreover, NCLB has (rightfully so) insisted on benchmarks, and testing has been initiated to check them... Several days are dedicated to this... But no extra time has been alloted to the school day. So the machine clunks on, making what it's supposed to, on the few days it's alloted, with the handful of parts that haven't broken down yet. And pundits bemoan the failure of the once great machine. Democrats (who push the programs AND the "feel good" events") blame the Republicans (who will neither fund it more adequately, nor extend the school year). Being asked to do more, and given less and less time, AND chastising the machine when it inevitably fails is the very essence of bureaucratic stupidity. Were this a real machine, and those who owned it wished to continue making the product it was designed for, an honest evaluation on whether a drastic overhaul, or upgrading to a newer model would be made... No one (sane) would continue to let it clunk along hoping that it won't break down. Why do we?