I get your point, Tom, I think. The parents......yes, I also believe it starts at home and kids could get a great education even in a really bad school, if they were raised in a family that fosters education and learning . It seems that to many parents school is little more than a babysitting institution and that is a major problem that makes teaching incredibly difficult.
For me high school has become a difficult place to even get an idea of what goes on..., much different than in the lower grades. It's difficult to get a hold of teachers, and most of them have not made an effort to inform me of anything. One notable exeption was a math teacher ( not a US citizen, but that is irrelevent for the most part) that called me at work the very first time my daughter turned in an incomplete assignment. We were to meet the following morning at 7:30, the three of us. She never again missed an assignment. The kids in his class knew never to be late, or they would be kicked out. He also loved what he teaches. He was very strict, somewhat rude, very aware of all the kids in the class. I think he should be paid much more than some others I have come across.
However this fits in the greater discussion.