Who's to blame?
If we really (and I mean really) want to make a difference in America, we will agree that the "problems" in public schools are in truth problems of society and merely easier to see in the context of public schools.
At that point we can implement the family services and adult education and training needed to break the cycle of poverty, increase the reach of social mobility, and provide all Americans the "opportunity" we know a democratic society can provide-- if its citizens demand it.
At present, we demand 'accountability' but refuse to provide the appropriate resources to achieve our lofty goals.
Spot on, my friend. Spot on.
The point is simple: the fundamentalist free-marketeers are trying to blame anyone they can think of (parents, teachers, teachers' unions, bureaucracies, Democrats, etc.) for the "failure" of the public schools.
Want to blame someone? Sure, it's counterproductive and trite, but if you really want to blame someone, point the finger at yourself. It's our collective fault. As a society, we are failing large segments of our society. And sorry folks, no amount of testing or accountability will fix it. No buzzwords or savvy PR phrases (e.g., No Child Left Behind) will achieve the goal of success for all.
What will? Consider the comment section your personal soapbox, but let's focus on solutions -- not blame -- dear readers. I challenge you to try; it's not as easy as it sounds.