Occupy Wall Street is a junkyard magnet for every loose wing-nut, burned out eco-light bulb and bent silver spoon in America's junk drawer. It attracts students and dropouts, over-the-hill hippies and Woodstock re-enactors, drifters and grifters, con artists and spray-paint Picassos, drummers and dumbers, Michael Moore-ons and other intellectual frauds, felons and faculty members.

And they might have a real gripe.

I'm thinking of Joe the Puppeteer.

The Bizarro Planet version of Joe the Plumber is Joe Therrien, a New York City teacher who quit to go back to school for an MFA in Puppetry. No kidding. According to a story in The Nation, he joined the OWS protests because his advanced degree only got him a crappier job and $35,000 in debt. Who knew there were no jobs in the booming sock-puppet industry?

Occupy Sesame Street?

I wonder: Why didn't he occupy Sesame Street? Why quit a good job to study puppets? Why not something useful, like Lego Engineering, Early Childhood Arrested Development or Deconstructing Model Airplanes with BB Guns and Firecrackers?

What's the students' responsibility in ringing up massive loans with no logical job on the horizon?

But I also wonder: Isn't an MFA in Puppetry a textbook case of educational malpractice? Isn't a student loan for puppetry just as felony stupid as those sub-prime Fanny Mae/Freddie Mac mortgages?

No wonder OWS protesters are angry and incoherent.

They've been cheated of a good education, but they couldn't explain it with a PhD in Communication Arts.

Their Peace Studies degree isn't worth the $125,000 student loan, but they didn't take enough economics to know why. Annual public tuition averages $21,000, or $42,000 at private colleges "” for Mickey Mouse courses in a binge-drinking Disneyland.

The higher education racket slurps up taxes and family savings even faster than health care. The kids have been swindled. They don't know what they don't know.

In how many cases, for six of their four years in college, has Professor Progressive lectured them about evil capitalism and the rotten rich "one percent" who make more money than 99 percent of college professors who selflessly teach nearly one class a semester. Oh, the social injustice.

I can almost sympathize. When my generation was taking it to the streets, "it" was stop the war, stop pollution, stop haircuts, stop pot busts, stop bogarting that joint.

But it was 99 percent stop the draft. As soon as the selective service became a lottery, the marches went up in smoke like hash at a Moody Blues concert. Had I not been too stone lazy to make one, my poster would have said, "Draft Beer, Not Me."

Got jobs, grew up

Eventually, we realized the Weathermen, Black Panthers and SLA "revolution" was just revolting. We got jobs, cut our hair and grew up. But a few hard-core radicals stayed behind, clinging to campus like fleas trapped in tree sap.

They became political sleeper cells, pretending to teach while they indoctrinate students.

Vladimir Lenin said, "Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted." But even Lenin didn't ask parents to pay tuition at a theme park for pot and protests.

So yeah, the kids have a point but you can't excuse their responsibility.

Radical professors have failed entire generations of kids, while the parents and other adults in higher education have been oblivious. When our kids told us about the professor who wasted class time ranting about George Bush; when they were afraid to disagree before they got a final grade; when their faith and beliefs were ridiculed; when extravagant tuition paid for faculty frauds who treat classrooms like their own Phil Donahue show "” we looked the other way.

Yes, most faculty members are professionals. But even they know the bad ones are not rare enough.

For every Ward Churchill, Cornel West, Tom Hayden, Bill Ayers or Bernardine Dohrn in headlines, hundreds more nest behind ivy-covered tenure and academic freedom, working to radicalize and re-educate the children of misguided middle-class families.

In 2005, then-Sen. Larry Mumper of Marion, Ohio, proposed SB-24, to give students a bill of rights. Such as, "Faculty and instructors shall not use their courses or their positions for the purpose of political, ideological, religious or antireligious indoctrination." It required fairness and balance on controversial topics.

"Dangerous" limits?

But university leaders squelched the bill with a toothless compromise. "Everybody involved wanted to sweep this whole thing under the rug," Mumper says.

"Sometimes I wonder why I got involved," he says, now retired. "I took a lot of abuse."

Democrats called the bill "dangerous." Apoplectic professors cried "McCarthyism," and the media sang backup chorus.

But Mumper heard from families.

"They would tell me they had raised their children with certain values, and the children went away to college and graduated with totally different views.

"There was one, a big farm family. They sent their son to college and he came home and told his father they needed to sell the farm, give away all the money and do good works for the world. The dad used to joke that he paid for four years of that and it took eight years to get it out of him.

"It's amazing how widespread it is."

True. As a tuition-paying parent, I have reliable testimony.

But I can't say more on the grounds that it may incinerate me. Bad professors answer to nobody and hold all the power.

So why don't those OWS protesters file a class-action lawsuit for educational malpractice?

Courts usually say it's hard to define the duty to educate, or that students themselves may be at fault (Beer Pong 101), and academic freedom is bulletproof. But maybe that's changing.

The Chronicle of Higher Education warns of growing "public demand for greater accountability from colleges for the fulfillment of their core missions and a cry for demonstrable value, results and efficiency."

In the past year, a dozen law schools were sued for overselling the job prospects and benefits of law degrees. Double-digit tuition hikes, government subsidies and student loans for puppetry are signs of a higher education bubble that is begging to be popped.

We're not yet ready to excuse the responsibility of students to seek and receive an education that makes a difference in their future and marketability.

Maybe banks might even file lawsuits to recover unpaid student loans. Imagine that all-American irony: OWS protesters could find themselves in a sleeping bag with hated bankers, suing universities for a bailout of their student debts.

Or they can just bang on their drum all day like wind-up puppets. â–