A good education lays the foundation for a person's life in this post industrial age. The ability to read, write, and reason are just modern counterparts to the plow, ax, and horse. A good educational foundation gives individuals choices. The more options a individual has, the less likely an individual will be to become a social burden though crime or inactivity.
As long as the education system works, I do not care how it is done. If a totally centralized education with no parent\student choice works....And works well. I am all for it. Of course, I do not believe that organization structure would work as well as others, but that is my personal opinion.
Fixing the education system is a long process because we are coming into the middle of the problem and we have to start at the beginning. That is one thing I like about NCLB. It starts young and adds requirements as the children progress, you cannot get much fairer than that. While fixing the current system is important, it is also worthy to note that we have a educational backlog that must be filled. Fortunately most of the people in most need of education help are in one place (jail). Unfortunately, they are also shunned by society.
I think lowest level offenders or ones who have proven their selves to be good inmates could be offered a form of work credit with private companies. Those companies could get free labor, while the prisoners got free training. The companies could be required to give the criminal a job after he gets out, and the criminal could be required to work there a certain length of time after his debt is paid. This problem would face many issues, such as unions and possibly upsetting the legal job market.
Another idea, that would work similar to the idea above, but would have a different set of issues to overcome, is allowing inmates to serve in the military. An idea that I have never thought of until I read a liberal's blog, odd.