Even in the worst schools, there are enough good teachers and resources that you can get a good education if you make an effort. I don't blame those teachers for their students' stupidity. The vast majority of kids at the grade schools and high schools I went to were from very poor families who didn't speak any English. I dare anyone to try an educate 35 of those kids. Studies have shown that it is kids from poor and/or non-english speaking families who are dragging down all the standardized test scores. Kids who give a damn and try are doing fine. It's just too fashionable to blame public schools when it's the kids and their parents who are the problems. I went to horrible public schools and was able to score a 1460. My high school's average was 880 that same year (and those were the kids who wanted to go to college).
There's a great documentary called Spellbound about the 1999 National Spelling Bee. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0334405/ It follows 8 families as they go to Washington DC for the finals. There are still plenty of people pursuing the American Dream.
I think you missed my, and I would guess others, point. It was not an indictment of each and every teacher in every public school in the country. It was an indictment of a failing system. You're right that educating children ultimately comes down to parents. And that is why socializing schools is not a solution...it provides an excuse for parents to abdicate.