Government programs exist because Government exist to provide for common needs that cannot effectively be provided by individuals alone. To me, education does fit that. Defense, law enforcement, fire fighting and education are some of those needs. This is not socialism, nor is this using government programs to provide something that people are too stupid to earn on their own. They apply to all citizens and are why governments are formed in the first place. I do recognize that education may be a little on the fringe, but I support it and don't call it socialism.
Being of a more "Federalist" or "Centrist" mindset in some things, I do see the system as grossly inefficient and in need of some serious trimming down. I don't know how Idaho does it, but here in Texas we have "independent" school districts which the state provides money to but has no direct control over. During the economic downturn and following reduced budgets, the education budget of course fell under the chopping block because it is controlled by the state. The state also noted that in the majority of districts, over 50% of funding was being used for "Administrators" and not facilities, teachers, text books, etc. The state however cannot order independent districts to eliminate administration positions. Since it is the administrators that control how the budget is spent, when cuts are made, teachers and other things take the brunt of it, with little or no cuts to administration. This kind of activity is a major source of cost issues and relates, at least some, to the quality issues also.
Quality of education has primarily suffered due to the adoption of anti-discipline ideals, improper focus and many other issues which would require a rather large amount of time to actually type out here, but most of which relate to pushing a pro-liberal education agenda.