There has frequently, throughout my lifetime at least, been a cry for free (or significantly cheaper) college education. While I'm not sold on that being a good idea, here is a thought that popped into my head one day, that may seem ludicrous to you. It may, in fact, be ludicrous. It's certainly just the beginning of an idea. But here goes.
What if we were to take the money which the federal government spends on education at all levels (pre-K, elementary, high school, college), and funnel that all toward funding universities.
Then take the state money currently heading to education at all levels, and redirect it toward funding and expanding community colleges, perhaps engulfing the final two years of high school (or all of high school?) into that system.
Finally, make k-8th or 10th grade the responsibility solely of parents, local counties, municipalities, churches, etc.
I realize that most people who see this will wonder what I smoked as I typed. But I believe if education in this country is going to catch up with the rest of the world, it will take some pretty outside-the-box ideas, perhaps crazier than this.