1. Trust the teachers and allow them to teach. Lately, the government is treating teachers as if they are idiots and incapable of teaching. Such a shame. Sure, there are incompetent teachers, but I think most are good people, good teachers, and anxious to teach. If we give them the freedom to look at their class and teach what the class needs to know, using the tools and methods the teacher feels will best help the kids, we will be doing so much better. I'm in favor of using subject-matter experts in schools, but all people have passions, and if we let the teachers bring their passions into the classrooms, the classes will be so much better off. This means no more federally-mandated tests, and a huge increase in local control.
2. Trust the parents and give them a voice (and not just in designing and running the school carnival). Schools are so dismissive of parents, so inclined to shut them up and get them out of the way except when they need slave labor or money. They love telling parents, "We're the experts here." They need to realize they are not any more expert than the parents are, and in some ways much less expert (like on individual children's needs). They need to remember that the parents are the ones who, ultimately, hired them. The teachers work for the families, not the other way around. Parents are the best resources teachers have, and should be their best partners. Not all schools are doing this wrong, but it seems like more are messing it up than doing it right.
3. Support and strengthen families any way we can. The best teacher can't do anything for students who are falling apart because their families are falling apart. Strong families will do more than anything else to mitigate the problems we're facing.
Unfortunately, the government is doing everything it can to thwart number 1. The schools are doing everything they can to thwart number 2. And our society seems to be doing everything it can to stop number 3.
So we're toast?