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It's swell that, as Tom Danehy outlines in this week's feature, the boosters at Sierra Vista's Buena High School raise so much money for athletics. It would be even more swell if parents elsewhere in Southern Arizona followed their example, but fed the money into the schools' reason for being: educating children.

Parents always squawk when enlightened administrators threaten to cut sacred athletics programs, but comparatively few voices are raised as class sizes increase, books deteriorate and the curriculum declines to the basic facts needed to pass standardized tests.

And yet, do we really want parents to get more directly involved in the schools? Meddling comes most naturally to the least qualified people. Sure, some good parents volunteer in the classroom and in the PTA. But why do they seem so outnumbered by the intolerant book burners?

The basic problem with American education is that it's run by amateurs--us. Any idiot can be elected to a school board or the Legislature, any hack can take over the state education department and any political toady can obtain a seat on the Board of Regents. When good people obtain those positions, it's almost by accident.

So if the state of education is alarming, we can do either of two things. We can all directly put more of our own sweat and smarts into improving the schools, or we can back away entirely and set up a meritocratic system in which education is directed by professionals.

That's the sort of boost our schools really need.

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