Anyone not worried about the current state of public education in California hasn't been paying attention.

Not to put too fine a point on it, public education in the Golden State is a mess. In their own ways, teachers, unions, taxpayers, parent advocates, business groups, administrators and, yes, newspaper editorialists have all acknowledged it.

Each likely has a self-righteous finger to point as to why we are where we are and a corollary finger to wag at the obstacles to improvement.

But the truth is that each of those groups has had a hand in creating our current circumstance. To detail how would take more space than is available. The fact remains, we are where we are. When the boat is sinking, you don't bother with who caused the hole. Everyone starts bailing. So grab a bucket.

A more-distressing truth is that there is no magic elixir to make everything better, especially in the polarized atmosphere that engulfs education. Anyone who starts a sentence about fixing California's education system with the phrase, "All you've got to do is ..." should be ignored because they simply don't understand the complexities.

For far too long, political muscle has trumped reason and sound management principles. The interest groups in this battle collect money that they pay consultants to create cute slogans and TV commercials advancing their agenda or stopping the opponents' agenda, neither of which serves the state's schoolchildren.

That must change.

Which is why we are encouraged by the innovative actions by eight school districts -- two here in the Bay Area -- who have come together to form a consortium that plans to seek federal funds to be targeted toward students.

For its own reasons, the state has chosen not to pursue Race To The Top funding from the Obama administration.

But in May, the administration announced that it would make available $383 million in funding grants at district levels and that it would give particular priority to forming partnerships with public and private organizations that focus on personalized learning environments for students.

Eight of California's more than 1,000 school districts have taken that challenge and decided to form what has been called a coalition of the reasonable that organizers hope will attract Washington's attention and serve as a model for other districts. We share that hope and, after reviewing it, we believe it should.

The impressive part of the plan is that the districts divided areas of concentration. Here's what we mean: the Los Angeles Unified School District will specialize in linked learning focusing on high schools using career partnership academies; districts in Fresno and Long Beach will focus on improving literacy achievements from prekindergarten through the third grade; meanwhile, Oakland, San Francisco, Sacramento City, Clovis and Sanger districts will hone in on improving learning of mathematics for fourth grade through eighth grade.

We believe this presents the last, best hope for dramatic positive results in our public schools. We hope this effort can serve as a crucible for establishing innovative best practices that will benefit our children for years to come.