I think there are other things publis schools need to address, first. One is electives and requirements. I know this varies greatly from school to school, but I would first of all make foreign languages completely elective OR start teaching it to the kids right away in grade school. The 2 or 3 year requirement for high school kids is worthless unless it is an elective. Think about it like this: who is more important, an author who writes a book, or the translators that spreads it across the world? I would also stop pushing business classes - elective - fine, requirement - no! They're teaching kids HOW TO GET A JOB, NOT HOW TO THINK! At least in my school the Talented and Gifted program was prominent, nobody seemed to think it was bumming the lesser students out. They should be teaching less foreign language and business and more American Law, Civics, etc. You should have to attend town meetings and write reports on them in high school. You should be taught how your town's town meetings work, how you can propose things, introduce laws, etc. Same w/ state government - just the logistical stuff!! The kids in my college classes didn't even know how to get a hold of their representatives or the first place to look.
Back to elementary education, I have an idea: I would have the kids build sandcastles, first plan it out on paper, then build it, then take a polaroid picture of it, then....SMASH IT! Later in the week you could do a creative writing exercise - ask the kids: what happens in your castle? who lives there?, etc. The basic idea is you teach different subjects, but the center "project" is always the same. This would be so more profound for kids than the 7 subjects for 1 hour each, every day. I would divide the day into morning and afternoon and have two different projects going all week. So in the afternoon for one week, or maybe even two weeks, we would keep coming back to the sandcastle for the entire afternoon. I really think the smashing part would be invaluable.
I also think English in high school is the most important subject, because it actually teaches kids HOW TO LIVE WELL! You can't teach religion or morality directly, but when you read Mark Twain in Junior English you learn the difference between a good man and a scoundrel! The Odyssey teaches high school kids about sacrifice, leadership, and heroism. English is really the only place where you could learn "life lessons." Calculus, physics, history, foreign language? Important, but it doesn't teach you how to be a decent person or, even better, (god forbid) HEROIC!