I wish I had the answers...I don't think that teachers are totally the problem, but I do believe that the tenure system for primary and secondary teachers is a joke---the right to a job shouldn't be based on seniority. In post secondary academia, there is an extensive vetting process before a faculty member is granted tenure. Why should the requirement be less rigorous for primary and secondary school?
I also think that parents have a responsibility---and its not just to scream at school administrators! Its to ensure that their child is studying in the evening and on weekends, engaging in reading, turning in homework, have limited access to television and video games, etc. I think this holds true irrespective of whether a child attends a public or private school. I also believe strongly in longer school days (why not? work harder and longer) and a longer school year (the rationale for summer school break was based upon the country's agrarian society...we haven't been an agrarian based society in a very long time!). From what I understand of the most successful charter schools-these are some of the elements that work.