As others posters here have noted, changing the local systems is all but impossible. The apathy the majority of parents of school-age children have and the lack of support from them aside, the system, which got the way it is, thanks in part to the simple minded ideals Allison Benedikt is all for, have locked-out any chance of changing the simply awful public education system from within.
The lives destroyed by public education are innumerable, and mostly ignored by most of the people who were victims of that system. The few that recognize it and refuse to subject their children to it are now supposedly "evil" - the kind of language you'd expect from the religious extremists, I might point out.
I can count the good teachers I had in public school on one hand. I can count the effective ones that worked within that system in a single finger, and she was not a teacher, she was a LIBRARIAN.
If you are financially trapped into sending your kids to public school and upset about it - you SHOULD be ! And you should recognize the lack of commitment and apathy and participation of the other parents that feel the same way as THE SINGLE most contributing problem in reforming it.
Sending your children to an awful public school IS child abuse, and your kids may never forgive you for it; even if they turn out too damaged by the experience and stupid to even be able to articulate WHY !