Thie country's biggest problem is probably the public schools. Many of us had a pretty good idea that competition and choice are the obvious fix. Diane Ravitch (interviewed by Russ Roberts here) has taken a hard look and is not so sure.
The most depressing thing about the interview is that there is so little good news. The Catholic schools (which Ravitch admires) are in decline. The charter schools (which she also has good things to say about) offer a mixed record. No Child Left Behind testing has (in her words) institutionalized fraud as all teaching and prep are geared to one test. And even the scores on reading and math (the only focus of NCLB) have gone nowhere.
What to do? This is not my field and I have no idea. The only question that remained after I listened to the interview is that competition if given enough time and scope could bring forth models that no one has yet considered. The tests to date have been few and for just a few years. Otherwise, Ravitch's findings (which she articulates compellingly) are very depressing.