Once upon a time, school boards controlled school funding.

But over the past 20 or 30 years, the real power over school personnel costs — teacher salaries — moved from local control to the Indiana Statehouse.

And when that power shifted, the Indiana General Assembly became — in effect — the school board for the entire state.

At one point, local property taxes accounted for about 60 percent of funding for teacher salaries. That later dropped to 40 percent.

And today, nearly every penny spent on teacher salaries comes from state revenues, not local ones.

The source of money moved, and when it did the power moved as well.

That, more than anything, explains why Indiana educators took their complaints to Indianapolis this week.

Their beef isn’t with local school boards. It’s with state lawmakers.

And that beef doesn’t just have to do with pay rates, it has to do with the dizzying level of state-mandated meddling that’s come out of the Statehouse in recent years.

Not content to control the purse strings, legislators also feel it’s their prerogative to tinker in curriculum, testing and whatever else happens to suit their fancy at any given moment.

That tinkering — driven by a wide variety of political agendas — is simply driving Indiana teachers nuts.

As Jay Schools superintendent Jeremy Gulley put it this week, speaking in support of this week’s demonstrations, unless there is a pause or a moratorium in legislative micro-managing, “You’re going to break the system.”

Already there are signs of fracture.

The much-vaunted theory of “having the money follow the student” when it comes to state support for education has already proved a failure for those school corporations facing the greatest challenges: Urban systems and less-than-rich rural systems facing a decline in enrollment.

While “follow the student” sounds good on its face, it tends to reward prosperous and growing school districts while penalizing those facing the greatest challenges.

And while the state allows for voter referenda to boost school spending from property taxes, the districts where such referenda have succeeded are those that are already doing well. Those that are struggling are another story.

Somewhere along the line, Indiana’s education policy makers have made a serious wrong turn.

It’s time to acknowledge that the current system is — if not a complete failure — in serious need of revision.

It’s time for the Indiana General Assembly to stop micro-managing education.

And it’s time for the folks in Indianapolis to start listening.

That’s what this week’s demonstrations were about.