If you haven't had a chance to read the interview with Kevin Kumashiro, author of a book about why teachers are being scapegoated, in the current issue of NEA Today, I recommend that you take the time.
" . . . schools do not operate in a vacuum. An enormous challenge is the massive number of children living in poverty who come to school hungry and without access to health care, and who often live in neighborhoods plagued with violence. You can’t focus when your stomach is growling or you have a toothache or you’re afraid to walk to and from school, and you certainly can’t perform well on tests."
NEA Today: Stop Blaming Teachers