The United States dominates the world economy, science and warfare because of a well-educated populace guaranteed free and compulsory public education deeded to it by the Constitution.
California pubic education is a monolithic empire, stubborn to change and waspish to criticism. It has militant teachers' unions. State law grants a property right to teachers — a beast named tenure — that is unique among licensed practitioners. Tenure is like a marriage between teacher and school district, complete with blessings and liabilities.
Public school teachers are underpaid relative to other duly licensed practitioners because they have my kids in class for five periods over approximately 183 days during the year. Teachers have a tightly controlled environment — complete with a known set of pupils, not random clients or patients — backed up by disciplinary force of law granted to the school board and its administration.
A constellation of galactic problems exists in education because too few parents and citizens are involved and pushing for effective change — in their homes, on the local and state level — to make their kids and government mind. Apathy rules among parents, students and large percentages of teachers.