This is just my opinion. Please keep an open mind and know I am aware I don't know everything. This is just how I see it.
Teachers are great. They have a very hard job and probably are not compensated accordingly. Some are not so great, but my kids' teacher is not so great some days, too. I do not think I am better than a classroom teacher.
The educational system is flawed. Most systems are. OUR home system most definitely is.
So, this is how I see it.
Any one school is filled with dozens, sometimes hundreds, of little lives. Some of these precious people come from excellent homes that teach values, responsibility, and character. Many of them don't.
Some don't feel loved. Ever. Some are angry. Some have no respect. Some sit in front of the TV 5 hours a day. Some don't get breakfast. Some lack good role models. Some lack direction. Therefore, learning is much harder. So, are schools responsible for picking up the slack? Well, they have to if anyone is ever going to learn something. I think it is a little unreasonable to expect them to "prime" the kids to learn and then teach them as well with no parental support.
My opinion is that everyone has the right to choose what type of education (public, private, or home) is best for their family, but all families should be active in their education. Even busy parents can do this. (Aren't all parents busy?)
The best way I know to do this is just simply
1) Talk to your kids- it doesn't matter what the subject, just talk TO them.
2) Involve them in whatever it is you do. My personal favorite is cooking. You have to cook anyway.
Start them early, when they are still interested, start them doing very simple things like pouring or stirring or taking the wrapper off the stick of butter, and start them off slow (like once a week). Over time everything will become easier. If you cook with your kids, you can:
Teach them an important skill
Introduce nutrition, which may just add to their quality of life AND their length of life.
Possibly save a little work later on life when they really can "help".
Teach them all sorts of vocabulary, math, science, problem solving, following directions, and consequences to not following directions.
Of course, you will need a little patience and a little extra time at first, but the benefits could be worth it many times over. It does not matter if you are a master chef or not. Starting them off with Tuna Helper and instant oatmeal is just fine. Cooking is not the only way, but I think is one efficient and effective way to be a part of your child's learning.
There you have it. I just solved the world's problems. ;)
Bless you that are teachers, in the classroom, in the after school program, at home, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, whom ever you are. A little life is not something to take lightly.