I am old enough to remember when essentially all school districts were local--funded, staffed, and operated by local people. No federal money. Precious little if any state money. The school board was elected from the local citizenry and worked hand in hand with un-unionized teachers who were among the most respected citizens of the community and the parents, most of whom were very hands on in the process. Together, text books were selected and the hat was passed for needs not covered by the budget.
We had school cafeterias and also a lot of the kids brought their lunches. The child who forgot his/her lunch money or sack lunch was fed, but the parent was expected to pony up the cash later. The parents were expected to feed and properly clothe their children. Those who did not received a visit from social services, and if the parent was unwilling or unable to properly take care of their children, the children were removed from the home until the parent was willing and able to do that. Very few children were removed from the home.
The teachers were respected and allowed to exercise complete authority on the school grounds. We prayed before school assemblies and sporting events. The schools were the social centers of many communities, the PTA exercised considerable influence, and the kids did not question what was expected of them. There were no social promotions. Nobody was graduated without completing the requisite number of credits. A few kids were home schooled and there were private and parochial schools too. But most of us went to public schools and if it wasn't working out for us in one, we were allowed to transfer to any other that had room.
In that system we kids received an education that allowed us to compete with anybody. And the USA had one of the best, if not THE best, education in the world.
I vote to get the federal government out of public education entirely and return the education of the children to the parents and local school boards. What we're doing now isn't working.