In the rush to implement untested innovations, we will be experimenting with our children and their futures. Clearly, things are not good, but we need to be careful not to make them worse.
Unions are not the devil. In protecting their members, they are doing exactly what they were intended to do. Just because people wish to be fairly compensated and not to be exploited and abused does not mean that they do not care about children or their jobs. Working 10-hour days (while being paid for 8) to get students caught up and buying supplies (out-of-pocket) because the school system won't pay for necessary materials is unacceptable. We can do better by both the students and the teachers.
There is, so far as I am able to tell, no public effort to assess teachers aside from evaluating student outcomes. This means that, in looking at teachers, we're actually looking at students' abilities, students' efforts, and students' environments. It is difficult to disentangle all of these variables. School funding, students' social class, students' race/ethnicity, students' location, parents' education, parents' involvement, etc. are all part of the equation, and none of these things seem to be a part of the discussion yet.
We can learn a lot from the charter school model, but charter schools themselves are not necessarily the answer.