@Michael – I read the article by Mr. Friedman and I didn’t get the same thing out of it that you did.
He was acknowledging that many of our schools are failing but putting it on the backs of Parents that don’t hold their own kids/students to high standards.
My wife is a teacher and by all accounts a Damn good one. She puts in the long hours and cares about her students. But even still, she has students who show up ready to nap and take up space. Those kids don’t care and they become a distraction for the kids that are there to learn.
The parents of those kids are the real villiains in this story. They are the ones that are making schools worse for the families that do want their kids to get a good education.
My kids (two of the three have been Valedictorians in their high school class and the third is only a High School Freshman) go to a small rural school that doesn’t have a lot of money for the extras. But the school does take the time to address discipline problems and keeps order which allows the serious students to apply themselves and succeed.
We live close to a city with a failing school system that worries too much about how they will be perceived if they suspend or expel a minority student that is being disruptive. They would prefer to allow that student to continue to negatively impact the learning of the serious students instead. And that is why those schools fail. They receive more money per student but less support from parents per student.
Fix the attitude towards education first. Then fix the schools.