Start by appointing a really smart, non-partisan, experienced and plain speaking classroom teacher to lead the charge and settle things down(I know many). They'd work with the systems already in place to fix what needs fixing and build on what is working well. This position could be at the national or more appropriately the local level.
We should seek to promote a mentality that fosters pride in our schools and respect for learning. Since international comparisons are all the rage, follow Finland’s lead- http://www.publicpolicyblogger.com/2010/10/linda-darling-hammond-what-we-can-learn.html - Let's make proposals where leaders develop a set of ideals and a framework for success rather than passing strict and inflexible laws and rules that are unproven and stifle and demoralize. Move a little slower in case we are heading in the wrong direction. Immediately stop bashing our schools systems. Build them up instead of blaming them for all the ills of society. Stop ceding control of our community schools to corporations and businesses who are mainly engaged for their own bottom line. Stop allowing economic and political forces to use our schools for personal gain.
Here is my 5 point plan
-Hire better people
-Reduce Bureaucracy-make EVERYONE work directly with kids and in a school building
-Allow teachers to become leaders(give them power to make decisions without leaving the classroom)
-Establish high expectations for students and teachers
-Find Transformational Leaders
-Throw some money at schools with no strings(apparently like we did with Wall Street)