Short of full privatization subsidized with vouchers for the poor, we have to think of ways to improve public education — which pretty much stinks.
So here’s a thought: Why not introduce an element of competition? No, I’m not talking about free-market fundamentalism for schools, I’m talking about competition among schools. Why not pit schools against one another for academics just as we do athletics? Why don’t we add some incentives in there?
For example: the XYZ Elementary School Bears goes up against the ABS Elementary School Eagles. Whoever has the best aggregate improvement in test scores/writing scores or whatever gets to go to the waterpark! Kids love friendly competition. It takes not only our inherently competitive and groupish drives to win, but adds in some fun. I bet you’d get positive secondary effects like smarter kids being more likely to help struggling kids ("We want to win, so I’ll help!").
Just a thought.