We seem to have reached a point in this country where we as a society believe that every child should have some basic skills (no child left behind). But the reality is given the backgrounds and home life of some students this can not always be achieved - even with the best teachers. But we spend all our resources trying to achieve this goal and there is nothing left for "real" education. So it seems only when schools are allowed to pick relatively socioeconomic homogeneous students (private schools) they can provide a better education.
Wozniak has the correct conclusion: American public schools mostly stink. I'm not sure his solution, however, is workable. It is hard to imagine a more hag-ridden establishment of moronic liberal-twaddle rules, procedures, punishment of the innocent and protection of the guilty in public schools: and I'm talking about the teachers there, not just the administrators. Well, ok. Let's assume for the moment that I think that American public schools are not doing, um, the best job they could. More money for schools? Nah, they get too much as it is. Better teachers? From where? Many are pretty good, but how do you work in a totally broken system, where parents assume that the teachers are persecuting their budding genii? Here's my solution: drop all the hogwash programs, incentive schools, National Appreciation of Universal Oneness malarky. Instead, teach three things: reading, writing, and arithmetic. Teach reading by making students read: toss in some history and geography reading while you're at it. Teach writing by making them write: about the books they read, history and fiction. And teach arithmetic by making them do wrote arithmetic problems over and over and over again. They don't like school? That's your metric: no kid would sit in a classroom and write an essay if they could be home playing some brain-dead video game. For an advanced curricula, we could also teach rhetoric, but I don't know if many present teachers even know what I mean by that in the classical sense.
According to Roger Schank, "We need to stop producing a nation of stressed out students who learn how to please the teacher instead of pleasing themselves. We need to produce adults who love learning, not adults who avoid all learning because it reminds them of the horrors of school. We need to stop thinking that all children need to learn the same stuff." http://blogbrut.wordpress.com/2009/11/21/is-school-bad-for-kids