Your call to transform schools to fight poverty (“Our View: Public education must lead fight against poverty,” Jan. 25) reflects a shocking ignorance of education and economics. Turning our teachers into surrogate parents will destroy public education.

Public education, dating to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, was created to enable participation in governance. The scope has expanded to accommodate our technological development, and provide some degree of poverty relief with meals and clinics. But the primary function of school has not changed since the time of John Winthrop.

Now you demand schools cure poverty. Our teachers must guarantee the American Dream.

This is nonsense. Our shameful poverty results from over 30 years of policies that have enabled a few to become obscenely rich by gutting our economic base and destroying the middle class. Subsidies for “too big to fail” banks, a lack of corporate taxation and misguided fiscal austerity have destroyed investment and gutted our infrastructure. The present recession is a result of these policies. The poverty seen in our schools results from these failed policies.

Demanding that the schools cure poverty is absurd. Economic policy – not the schools – is the first and only line of defense against the grinding poverty we have today.

Schools and teachers cannot cure poverty.

Teaching is hard enough. And the likely use of contractors to provide the services you demand will only lead to corruption and waste and do nothing to help our families.

We need sound economic policies that create jobs for parents, not opportunistic buck-passing. Let our teachers teach.