I am not in favor of more charter schools because they have the effect of skimming off the best and brightest students from the public schools. But students and parents deserve better public schools.
One answer is to renegotiate teacher contracts to permit longer work days, school years, and merit-based pay raises. The new teacher evaluation system that is going into place is a good first step toward the last.
We need to have a school system that reflects conditions in the 21st century that recognizes that young people no longer have to have the summers off to work on the farm and teacher salaries are high enough to justify working hours similar to private sector jobs.
Another answer is a voucher-based system. When a school continues to fail to provide a good education, parents should have the right to send their children to another school, private or public, that is performing well in another district if need be. A voucher that reflects the true cost of educating a student would be a great way for a student to move to a better school.
Ironically, some of the worse performing school systems, like Springfield, spend more per pupil then the state average, $14,635 vs. $13,361 average. If parents could be given a voucher for that amount they could send their children to a private, parochial, or another public school district.
The potential loss of income would be a great incentive for the schools to do a better and more innovative job. For example, they could start up a Virtual School or try new approaches like a single-sex school.