After the Wilson Quarterly, the Atlantic Monthly is my favorite periodical. Its Jan/Feb 2008 issue has a section written by Matt Miller about schools and some memorable quotes:
Mark Twain: In the first place, God made idiots. This was for practice. Then He made School Boards.
Miller jokes, "Things don't appear to have improved since Twain's time."
Also from Matt Miller: The usual explanation for why national [educational] standards won't fly is that the right hates "national" and the left hates "standards."
I read an interesting tidbit about why so many founders of tech companies (e.g. Bill Gates, David Packard, etc.) are focused on changing and improving education. (Many billionaires fund non-profits and various enterprises, but the Gates Foundation, for example, has worked extensively on expanding charter schools.) The theory is that Gates and others in Silicon Valley got their wealth through education rather than inheritance; therefore, they believe that more inventors and entrepreneurs will be created through a better educational system.