There must be a greater emphasis on real-world life skills such as household finance, balancing a checkbook, debt management, living within a budget, interpersonal and communication skills.
At present, education particularly K-12 tries to avoid the matter of values. This must change. Citizens must take on the task of determining a menu of generally-accepted values, and then require the education system to teach these. There must be an emphasis on the presentation of and comparison of existing values structures, the benefits and problems of each, and how these might be improved. This matter is inherently political and controversial, but it must be addressed. If not, the default values of greed and excessive self-absorption infect the society, or the value systems promoted by committed sub-groups. There is plenty of room for optimism here, because there is considerable room for agreement between groups, apparently quite opposed, to a core of basic values such as telling the truth, decency, commitment, moderation, self-management.
All students must by default assumption be considered creative and capable of achievement. Expectations must be high but not impossible. Certain groups, such as students from highly dysfunctional or poor environments, must not be written off. There must be more individual tailoring of educational environment and programs to individual students. For example, those who can handle autonomy must be given a chance to exercise it, and those who need structure and consistency must be provided it.