We need to realize that the structure and design of the current school model is arbitrary, based on the goals and needs of one particular point in time. The goals and needs of this point in time are different; we must give ourselves the permission to redesign our schools.
How many of the things we used to sell are now holding us back, keeping us from moving into the realm where school matters again?
Schooling played a very important role when the country needed factory workers who could drive the industrial revolution. We designed our schools on our factory system, inside and out, and produced the most productive work force the world has ever seen.
Back then, there were basically two tracks: the factory prep and college prep. We certainly didn't call the majority of our public school systems "factory prep," but that's what they were for many. That was then, this is now. We no longer have a need for that many factory workers - at least not here in the US - so we no longer have a need for factory prep. I think we see a good amount of current school reform and improvement driven by this fact. But what about the other side: do we still need college prep?
Just rambling here, but going to college used to be a special event; now it's expected. With the growing crowd of intriguing, non-school learning opportunities out there today and the crushing force of college debt on many people's shoulders and minds, is there becoming a good enough reason not to go to college? When/if that happens, will schools stop selling college prep?
It seems to me that the reasons to keep doing school the way we have in the past are falling away, one by one. When will we free our schools from increasingly-irrelevant expectations? What can school look like once we do?