We just can’t agree on what that something is.
A place to learn the big important facts of the world- the best of what has been thought and done by humans, and the natural laws of the universe?
A place to learn to be social, and kind?
A place to learn character-perseverance, collaboration, cooperation.
A place that gives our children the basics in reading, writing, and “‘arithmetic”, thus satisfying the basic social contract, and leaving the rest up to parents.
A laboratory for creating the next generation of citizens in a healthy democracy.
A place which must innovate, or perish, and be replaced.
All of these things, and more. It depends on who you talk to.