WASHINGTON — With the public education system in crisis,President Obama called Monday for purging underperforming teachers and lengthening the school year so that the U.S. keeps pace with other advanced countries.

He said more spending is needed to update textbooks, facilities and equipment, but added that money without reform would not solve the problems of education.

"You can't defend a status quo in which a third of our kids are dropping out," Obama said in an interview on NBC's "Today" show. "You can't defend the status quo when you've got 2,000 schools across the county that are dropout factories — and they really are — where more than half of the kids