The art of catching up is an attempt at an artful few words and speaks to both the challenge and the promise of public education. My rural school housed K-12 in one building. The "big kids" were upstairs and the "squirts" were downstairs. I began there at age five and left at age 18.
The state gave two high school graduation certificates. One Regents (college-bound) and Vocational/Agriculture. Kids graduating could enter the world world nearly immediately after high school, or college, or the military.
The community had three factories that ranged from children's sleepers to knives and oil tanks. Dairy farms aplenty and the farm kids graduating had a place to go usually. This tiny community was first a farm community with general store and blacksmith. The schools were one room and located near the farms. K-6 (8th) and was open much like school calendars today. Reason, farm kids needed to be home for spring planting and summer harvest. There was little or no education for the farm kids beyond the 6th, possibly 8th. Ditto for the factory needs. The school played catch up.
The school systems in the nation cannot educate beyond the basis of the known vs. the imagined. There have been lots of words of anger or worse towards the school system here in Chattanooga. Kids are not prepared for after high school. Why? They cannot read well enough. Serious issue? You bet, but again are the schools catching up. Is the goal of every child reading on grade level or close reasonable? Oh boy, those with magic education lamps know better? So do I. The goal of every child reading at unattainable goal is just that. It is unattainable. But we are and will continue to be "behind" the next Apple phone or computer.
But to close, not a single institution can do what the public schools do. If you know one, please share.