School starts Monday and I was thinking about how different things are today compared to when we went to school. It's hard to believe but it has been almost 40 years since I sat in kindergarten with Mrs. Bensinger at the Presbyterian Church in Summit Hill and now on Monday, my daughter Kathryn begins her first day of kindergarten in Nesquehoning and has already ridden the bus for two weeks for orientation. She is so excited about learning and I hope it stays that way.

Panther Valley has always been unfairly criticized for the education provided to its students. For some reason, the school has received a bum rap for not educating its children. It's not that I want to start a turf war or anything, but education comes from within and not without.

You cannot teach children who have not been encouraged to learn. If there is a detriment in our educational system for the most part it is not the teachers. They do their best, but if they have students who have not been groomed by their parents to be receptive to learning it is hard for even the best teacher to educate them.

Contrary to popular belief and I'm not expert by far, but I do know that the education I received throughout my life was because I chose to learn. Not because any teacher forced me to learn, but because I wanted to know and to understand.

True education comes from within our hearts and minds and teachers provide us with the inspiration and material to feed that hunger for knowledge. We learn because we want to know, not because someone forces us to do so. The word educate means literally to "bring out, lead forth". Education comes from within, not without.

With that understanding, I can say firsthand that my education in high school prepared me for college and I was able to stand toe to toe with graduates from any high school in Pennsylvania when I went to Bloomsburg University.

In fact, I was in a Calculus class with graduates from other local schools not to mention Marian and Tamaqua by name and my Panther Valley education was actually more extensive than those particular students in advanced mathematics. So I never really understood why I have to spend my time defending my education to anyone and other than this column, I usually do not.

What concerns me though twenty five years after my graduation as my daughter starts school is not the teachers nor the administration although I question the wisdom of decisions made by the school board, but I respect for now that they have more information than me.

No, what concerns me most is the havoc that our government has wreaked on local schools throughout this country. The "No Child Left Behind" act and its related bully-club regulations have made a mockery of public education in this country. I spent the last weekend talking with a local teacher about her upcoming school year. She told me about how disillusioned she was with what teaching has turned out to be, simply because as she was growing up, she was inspired by her teachers. She studied through college to become part of this noble profession only to discover the government has managed to destroy almost everything she loves about teaching children.

How stupid can politicians be, and I'm referring to those of you in the Federal level and state levels? What in the world has possessed you to take the educational experience of our children and turned it into a mockery of education?

Do you wonder why people are pulling their children out of school to privately teach them? It is because there are parents who want their children to learn more than how to take your stupid tests. You are denying them a proper education by forcing teachers to deal with a test instead of education. And may I remind us this is a test derived by a bunch of moronic bureaucrats that deny the joy of learning for the stress of test taking.

You have turned a system of education into a race to get test scores in exchange for money. That's extortion and bribery and you should be ashamed of yourselves. You are driving teachers from a noble profession, you are trashing our schools and you are spending money on sports arenas, our enemies and pork instead of education. Am I the only one to see how stupid that is?

I'm sure these politicians would not allow their children to run their households and spend their money although lately I think a child could be more responsible than they are, yet they are more than willing to punish schools blaming children in the process. There is no elegant way to say how dumb that is. Where are the brains of these people? This is what happens when you let power hungry, self serving politicians create bureaucracies to make jobs for people as favors and then allow them to run roughshod over the people of this country.

My daughter and thousands of others enter school for the first time this week. She is going to start to her formal education and I'm confident her teachers want what is best for her and to educate her.

I'm sure the administrators would love to make sure she gets everything out of school that I did and they did. These are my friends and peers and I know they love what they do. But I also know the juggernaut they are fighting to educate our children.

The enemy is not children that want to learn. It's a political bureaucracy that believes that taking a test is the only measure of an education.

How much do you want to bet these same jokers when they were children blew off the same tests? I am willing to bet these geniuses probably cannot even pass the tests they inflict on the students of this country.

If you are not upset at how they are wasting our tax dollars on this mess not to mention the education these tests are costing our offspring, then maybe you should take some time to educate yourself and then pick up the phone and demand that our politicians let our teachers get back to doing what they do best and let the test taking to civil servants.

Until next time …