Yes, this discussion will last forever. It have for the past 30 or so years. We have tried progressive schools, democratic schools, standardized tests, non-standardization, alternative assessment, traditional assessment, more money, less money, no discipline, more discipline... (and I can go on for hours). We have to face it: so far, we honestly DO NOT KNOW what helps children learn.
We know that the most effective variable is the teacher. A good teacher makes all the difference (and this has been statistically proven). But we still haven't find a way to identify good teachers beforehand.
We know that different ethnic groups perform differently in school. We still don't know why. The most popular theory at the moment refers to home environment and support. We don't know how to change entire cultures, or how to change entire school systems and make them fit certain cultures.
This discussion will not end, not because we hold controversial opinions and enjoy debating them, but because we all hope that someone will write down the one thing we hope to read - THE ANSWER. Well then.