I think public education ensures that all children, regardless of the economic status of their family, have the OPPORTUNITY for an education.
Note the OPPORTUNITY part. As I stated in my other post today, I don't think teachers are the primary reason when America's schoolchildren are lagging behind. I agree with a comment I heard on the radio the other day: "This is MY education . . not the teacher's . . not my parents' . . mine. It is my responsibly to do those things to pursue MY education . . my parents and teachers are available to help me." Right on! For too long, we have seen EVERYONE BUT the children held accountable for children's education. Yes, I think parental involvement, support and discipline are indispensible to a child's education -- education (or lack thereof) starts in the home. Parents can do a lot to instill values, including the value of an education . . and set standards, limits and consequences. Teachers can be indifferent or they can be helpful. STILL, it is the child's responsibility -- they must be told this -- that it is THEIR education . . it is THEIR future life at stake . . and it is THEIR choice as to how all of that will go.
I don't think many of us would blame parents or doctors for the negative outcome for any person who knows what healthful habits are and yet chooses to pursue other habits. We wouldn't see an obese person gorge on junk foods and say, "Their parents failed thom" or "They have an incompetent doctor." Likewise, we wouldn't see people wrecking their health with booze or illicit drugs and then blame the doctor or family. So, why is it that we hold teachers and schools accountable for the poor academic performance of children who won't do their homework or study? Now, if the parents went to the school to complain, "You're giving too much homework! My little Johnnie can't get to the highest level playing Halo II if he has to do all this reading!" . . then I'd blame the parents also. But we aren't helping anyone or our country by shifting blame and not requiring personal responsibility from each and every person.