I think the biggest problem with America's schools is not the funding or lack of it. It's not the teachers. It's not the lack of parental involvement. It's not even the students.
It's the system of learning. It's a very segregated way of learning. And while that has it's place, 12 years of it is too much. None of that learning is tied into what to do with that knowledge. That results in a lack of real involvement on the part of the student.
Learning begins with the desire to learn. And why should one care to read about George Washington, the Magna Carte, and chemistry while in high school?
That's not to say I think we should get rid of trigonometry and other difficult math and history courses that seemingly have no effect on paying the rent.
What I am saying is that it's easier to learn something when we have a reason to do so.
The best way to learn Spanish isn't from a book while doing recitals 5x a week. It's to be stuck in Mexico and have our survival depend on it. Learning Spanish then becomes a means to survive and thrive. Either you learn it, or you go jobless, foodless, and friendless.
What schools need are goal oriented learning programs. Learn writing and appreciation for good literature by having the goal of writing a good novel. You'll be forced to analyze structure, grammar, history, current events, essay writing, themes, allegory, and all that other "boring" stuff while knowing why and how to use it.
For the math and science guys, have them build a robot or a missile for the US military to use.
Of course, they can't do such projects in the 1st or 2nd grade.
But when they get to middle school or after they've learned the basics of algebra and sentence structure, maybe in Middle School sometime, they choose a major or education path where they take on a project and go in depth in learning the higher aspects of various disciplines all while accomplishing something worthwhile.
The idea is to give them a single goal where they are forced to teach themselves various disciplines and tie them together. The lessons best learned are the ones we teach ourselves.
And as adults out of school, we've learned more about history, science, and math because of our fascination with those subjects, our desire to learn more about them. Yet we insist on robbing kids of the way we learned the most by using systems of teaching that have very little effect on maintaining their interest...and our own.
Looking back on our lives, would we ever choose to sit through any of our high school classes? I know I wouldn't.