Give parents school choice
Public schools should be accountable to parents rather than to the government.
If politicians are concerned with raising achievement among children currently enrolled in government schools, one important thing they can do is to give parents the option to enroll their children in a private school of their choice. This can be done, for example, by giving parents tax credits to be spent on their children's education. The tax credits could be equivalent to what the government spends per student in its schools.
With tax credits in hand, parents would be able to shop around for the best private schools. They would be able to get their kids out of failing government schools and into schools they believe would give their children a much better education.
If parents later find that their choice of school was mistaken, they would still be able to try other schools. This freedom of choice would not guarantee a good education for their children (even private schools can do a poor job) but at least it would give parents control and put pressure on government schools to improve the quality of the education they provide.
Government schools that failed to improve would likely lose their students and justly so.
If any politician really wants to improve the education of students currently attending government schools, he can start by doing a simple thing: Set their parents free.
David Holcberg is a media specialist at the Ayn Rand Institute.