I attended public schools, but I got my education by reading everything I could get my hands on. We spend more than other countries, but our kids do worse in school. Part of it is the infastructure of the schools, and part of it is the culture. Most Americans, young people especially, are inclined to rebel against the Man, or in this case the Adult. When the Adult stick a lession plan in front of you, you do whatever you can to get around it.The fact is that kids had to read and learn because we make them read and learn. Mom got me to like reading by prohibiting from me from doing so. You think I'm kidding don't you? You never met Mother then.
Mother's strategy (if it in fact was a strategy) would of course not work with the obidient kids, though it would be funny if we tried it. ("We confiscated a copy of the complete works of Shakespeare from your son's locker.") Rather, we should provide them the opprotunity to learn rather than making them do so.
The key is to give them the skills to learn rather than cramming dry facts down their throat untill they are 18. If they don't want to learn, they won't learn. They'll cheat on tests or simply not do the assignment at the worst, at best they will parrot back everything they are taught, then delete it from the hard drive inside their head when June rolls around.
I'm not even worried about graduation rates. A high school degree doesn't mean anything if everyone has one. Some people are naturally inclined to be lazy and stupid. They should be left alone so that this country can compete with China when it comes to cheap labor.