On Schools (but NOT on Education)
I have a confession: I am wholly "uneducated" in that I don't have a degree, or any form of post-secondary academic credentials. To paraphrase a quote about Churchill, "I didn't go 'through' high school, I went under it", and instead of moving on to college as most of my friends did, I chickened out and enlisted in the Marine Corps. Yet, despite my lack of a 'formal' post-secondary education (outside of the military), I often encounter folks with advanced degrees (e.g., a Masters, or a PhD, sometimes multiple degrees) who 'rest on their laurels' and boast about their academic credentials with all of the bravado of an entitled third grader, yet also seem to have the actual intelligence of a carrot. So far, the best quote I've seen about this specific topic is "they don't give out PhDs to the smartest people, they give them to the most stubborn."
Let me be clear: I value education very highly, but I just don't place as much value on "school". I think that the cultural value attributed to a formal education is solely based on how relatively easy it is to describe, and very little to do with any actual merit. Perhaps Carl Sagan said it best:
"My experience is, you go talk to kindergarteners or first-graders, and you find a classroom full of science enthusiasts. And they ask deep questions: 'what is a dream?', 'why do we have toes?', 'why is the moon round?', 'what is the birthday of the world?', 'why is the grass green?' These are profound, important questions, and they just bubble right out of them. You go talk to twelfth-grade students and there's none of that. They've become leaden and incurious. Something terrible has happened between kindergarten and twelfth grade, and it's not puberty." - 30-Jan-1995 [YouTube Video Clip]
"The entire question of government spending is perhaps best perceived when one realizes that the government is not a source of wealth. The people themselves are the only true source of wealth. Hence, the government can only give to the people what it has already taken from the people." - Frederic Bastiat
More than just reading, writing and simple mathematics, we need subjects that improve students' lives as well as their minds and (in my opinion) better prepares them for the world in which they are about to enter, and in which they will be asked to participate.