Winerip makes no apologies for poor classroom teachers, and there are some, but he suggests that what might do more good is a No Family Left Behind act that punishes politicians in states that fail to provide economic growth for minority families:
The intent of the No Child law could not be more important — to narrow the achievement gap between white and minority children. But what angers public educators is that under the law, schools get all the blame if students fail, when they see many other variables at play, including the crippling effects of poverty on families. Studies show that the economic status of a child’s family has a major impact on a child’s performance on standardized tests. On the SAT, for example, for every $10,000 increase in family income, a child’s SAT scores rise about 10 points.
Which leads to my second proposal. We need a No Family Left Behind Law. This would measure economic growth of families and punish politicians in charge of states with poor economic growth for minority families.
Since politicians are the ones who come up with education laws (and often appear to be the ones who paid the least attention in class), something like this is never going to fly, but it's still a great idea.