As far as your political points go, I'm not sure I follow.
But being a layman myself, I hardly feel right contributing my naive outsider opinions to a discussion among so many teachers and experts like yourself with years of experience and advanced degrees in education.
Your metaphor of the VW and Porsche isn't bad, but I don't think anybody is under the illusions that we can make a VW perform like a Porsche. Perhaps it would at least make sense to help get that VW running well enough so it can get from A to B without breaking down and causing a traffic jam that makes everyone pretty miserable. Indeed there is nothing wrong with a modest car like a VW as many proud Beetle drivers would surely attest, religiously keeping them polished shiny and well-running - just like many Porsche drivers do. Another thing, I suspect keeping a temperamental high-performance machine running at peak potential to be more demanding than just keeping that Chrysler minivan running well enough to get to work, school and home.
I suppose this is the point where we get to your advocacy of enhancing the status professional and vocational training - indeed opportunity, achievement and dignity for everybody.
Sure some are blessed with real gifts, but not all of these are really motivated to take advantage of the resources made available. I imagine it not only being a greater personal satisfaction, but also a more sensible investment of resources to help a less gifted individual fulfill his potential if he's possessed with the hunger and the motivation to learn even if it's a struggle compared to another who might relatively have more substantial natural brilliance but doesn't mind wasting it because he has no interest to learn.
In short, what is the bigger problem, differences in natural intelligence or motivation? From my not so recent school experience, the big problem it wasn't that they were wasting resources so much the less intelligent but rather on the unmotivated and disruptive.
Even if I'm splendidly ignorant of the actual execution, I really respect the spirit behind "No Child Left Behind." I don't know why kids aren't learning and what in particular is broken, the schools and teachers, the community, media and society at-large or closer to home the pupils and the families. Nevertheless from where I stand it seems like a sick society that idolizes entertainment and sports stars while we only give lip service to the value of education - for those who can't make it big in such a big way.
"Hey kids, eat your tuna and broccoli and then go read and do your homework. I’ll be in front of the tv with my Twinkies and corn chips drinking a beer if you need me. "
For too long citizens have pretended to care about education and we've been satisfied "just trying our best." The coach is right. Trying is for losers. Results are what matters. So instead of giving up and conceding defeat in education like we've conceded so many other places of our societies where civilization has retreated to leave violence and gangsters to run amok.
So when they said we're not going to surrender the schools, it earned my respect and gave hope… at least until the generals of the divisions of teachers unions occupying and the citizens there showed they were hardly interested in joining the fight.
I have neither school age children, nor am I in the United States, but when I hear from peers and colleagues in the US about how high property taxes are and how miserable the schools are and how it's essential to pay ridiculous amounts for private school fees, I'm saddened to think how the war has probably already been lost and how you dear Yanks have already surrendered to resignation.
Source : http://martynemko.blogspot.com/2011/11/direct-evidence-that-intelligence-is.html