I am a public school teacher and quite passionate about the job we do. I can't compare my system to any others because I have little firsthand knowledge about what other countries are doing.
In the US it is almost required that we gripe about the educational system and say how bad it is. But here in California, we educate the most diverse and exceptional students of any system. In our district alone we have almost 20 different home languages listed. We do a fair job of taking every kid from every background and giving them the opportunity to become doctors and lawyers. We have a broad curriculum that in general seeks to prepare every student for college (and a majority go), and for the workplace. All students are tested and all teachers must be certified in their field and now have to rank as "highly qualified" according to Bush's No Child Left Behind act.
I will give more specifics later.