Based on scores and testing, it seems most public schools in America are failing. Many students pass but only with average grades, very few stand out as truly intelligent. When you compare this to private schools, it is completely different. Why is public education important if it is failing our children?
This depends on who you ask. Education in and of itself is important. It makes or breaks a child's future when they become an adult. While you don't need public education to be successful, it is better than no education at all. In fact, I believe most states within the US have laws against not educated your children.
It isn't important, education in general is important. You can opt to have your children attend public schooling, private schooling, or even charter schooling. So long as your child is being educated, that is what matters.
It is important in regards to cost. A lot of parents can't afford to pay for private schools or charter schools so having public schools be an option helps. In my area, we have a private catholic school that runs around $6,500 per year for a child to attend where as the public school is free, you just have to pay for books, food, and other supplies.
I wouldn't say it is more important but it is equally important on the grounds of general education. Public education is and will always be better than no education.
Public education is almost always free and because of that, it is important. Families who can't afford more expensive schools or schooling at all are able to get their kids educated properly and prepared for the future.