The Opinionated Homeschooler has a good set of thoughts springing off of an Atlantic Monthly piece entitled, "First, Kill All the School Boards". The Atlantic piece advocates setting national standards for academics and then putting all authority on how to meet those standards at the school level rather than the school board level. It's a solid piece, though my interest is limited by my determination never to have any of my offspring in the public schools at all.
Of more general interest is the Opinionated Homeschooler's advocacy for all students receiving an academic or classical high school level education, rather than shunting the non-college-bound off into career prep kind of classes. This, I think, is a very good point. One should be able to formulate a solidly academic high school level education which all students would benefit from far more than most of what goes on in modern public high schools.
One of the reasons, I think, that our "popular culture" (or lack thereof) holds such total sway is that we have failed utterly to make our real culture of the last 2000 years interesting enough to be anything other than a "subject" which is reluctantly studied at best, ignored at worst.