California's public K-12 schools: billion dollar babysitting boondoggles?
Sounds like a harsh question until you realize we currently have no objective way of measuring teacher performance. Consider this paragraph--about another topic but also relevant here--from David Walker's book, Comeback America (hardcover, page 164):
Without any standards of measurement, all definitions of "success" and "failure" devolve to the political arena. If your party enacted the new housing stimulus program, then you can make a dozen claims to support its success. But your opponents, at the same time, can point out as many claims of its failure. We ordinary taxpayers who footed the bill can only hope something good came out of the exercise--but we can't tell either. This is simply unacceptable and must change.
Our schools have no real standards to measure the effectiveness of teachers. Unions resist testing and making teacher evaluations public. Meanwhile, kids move along within the system, and it's hard to tell whether they succeed based primarily on the school they attend or their parents' involvement.