Tom pointed out that it's always easier to criticize than to do anything, and challenged me to provide a better alternative.
So for education, here it is, with one exception. I haven't decided on precisely the details about how I would handle Federal scholarships, grants, loan programs, and institutional support for higher education; thus this proposal deals strictly with K-12 Public Education.
First, the philosophical premise:
Control of public education should be vested, to the greatest extent possible, in the States and localities rather the Federal government.
The role of the Federal Department of Education should therefore be supportive rather than directive, and should be confined to three primary areas:
1) Keeping detailed, descriptive statistics for the purposes of:
(A) Insuring transparency and accountability in the financial operation of public schools by the States and localities operating them.
(B) Assembling the necessary qualitative and quantitative data to document academic success in the public schools on a school -by-school, district-by-district basis.
2) Becoming the repository and clearinghouse for research on best practices, professional development, and educational policy; this material would be accessible at no charge for public schools (as well as for private/parochial schools that voluntarily provide the data necessary for item 1 above; otherwise they would pay fees for service).
3) Assuming a direct supplementary funding responsibility for disabled or special needs students, with Federal supplemental support kicking in once a threshold of three times the average per-pupil expense (State or district; whichever is higher) has been reached in the provision of services.
That's it--the true role of the Federal government in public education.
Tell me what I've missed that would not or could not be provided by the States and localities under this plan, especially considering the billions of dollars of bureaucracy that would be swept away and could be (assuming politicians were capable of such behavior) used to reduce the Federal tax burden and allow the States and localities to have first call on the resources of their constituents, rather than seeing education dollars passed to Washington DC and reduced by administrative costs.