Almost every day, I read another article, letter or oped piece about public education. People decry the state of our schools at the same time they demand that educators fix all the problems of society and do that with less money for more students who have greater needs."Choice" is one proposed solution these days, but a flawed argument for it appeared in a Jan. 4 letter by Nathan Vail. He used the logical fallacy of circular argument, saying that the problem with our schools is lack of parental guidance but that the solution is to give those parents more options.I agree that too many children come to school unprepared to learn, but for choice to work you need involved parents.Choice will pull out parents who are involved in the public schools and leave less money for the neediest. I respectfully disagree with those who espouse the choice/voucher gimmick to fix this complex problem.So what is the answer? One answer is Parents as Teachers.Most parents want to do a good job. They want to see their kids succeed. Many just don't know how to make that happen.The Fort Worth school district has Parents as Teachers, an evidenced-based home visitation program that teaches parents how to do this singularly most important job in the world. PAT also helps identify developmental problems and assists parents in accessing community services for early intervention.Fort Worth spends $1 million a year on PAT, mostly for salaries. It enrolled 857 families last year, and the annual cost per family is about $1,225, the district said.Statistics show that children who are involved in PAT do significantly better on preschool and kindergarten assessments and in later grades as well. Parents also stay involved with their children's schools.Unfortunately, even districts with the program don't have enough money to see that all families get to participate. And only 80 of the approximately 1,100 Texas school districts have Parents as Teachers. In addition to Fort Worth, the Arlington, Birdville and Northwest districts have Parents as Teachers.The state Legislature can begin to address the problems in public education by doing three things:Provide funding for all families with children up to age 4 to take part in Parents as Teachers.Provide funding so all qualifying children can be in pre-kindergarten classes. (Currently, we address half those needs.)Provide funding to continue the 22-to-1 elementary class size limit.Is this going to take more state money? Yes it is. Either we pay now or we pay later.We pay later with remedial classes for students who don't succeed. We pay later with lost economic opportunities for students who don't graduate from high school and can't get work or go on for further training. We pay later to build more prisons.In medicine, it's best to spend money on prevention rather than waiting until a person becomes sick. That same reasoning should apply to schools.My heart aches for the children we'll lose because they won't get the best beginnings possible. The best beginnings are with parents who love them and who've had training to assist them in getting a great start in life.Marsha R. West is a retired elementary school administrator and former Fort Worth school board member.