This blog is really good. I found an amazing post on the tracking system. When I was a child, you were not tracked until sixth grade, except for resource(the special ed). My parents were able due to their class to be a strong advocate for me. (Once I was filling out a survey about stuff like whether you think your race or class helped or hindered you in school, and I thought my class helped me out a lot). Like poorer parents usually don't have the time to chase down school people, or may feel like they know what is best for their child. My mother was able to get a flexible job(and only ONE flexible job) and teach me to read early, which really helped me look good in the eyes of my teachers.
So by the time, sixth grade rolled around, I was tracked to higher classes for everything but math. (when I was in school, no one much cared if I was only able to do math to an average level. Although now I am 'stupid' because I could only do basic calculus) When I was a kid, I was unable to understand why my classes were now segregated. But now I think that this is unfair. I was able to get into AP classes, when my cousin's mostly black school wasn't able to have any. In normal English in my school, you were lucky if you were reading Harry Potter and doing worksheets. I'm not saying AP is a guarantee- AP English wasn't rigorous enough, but at least we read literature like Ellison's Invisible Man. So if people are stuck at levels where the work is boring, and mostly busywork, why are we wondering why people are being turned off of school?
The normal classes I went to were dull as paste. You mostly wrote notes, which wasn't geared to most people's learning styles, and they were taught by unqualified coaches. Many people couldn't get through algebra 2(due to my parent's strong advocating, I was skipped from pre algebra to algebra, so took an extra math class). There are so many other factors besides whether the students themselves are 'good' or 'smart' that anyone who tries to boil our school problems down to them or teacher's unions or whatever, is a bit naive.