As a teacher, I certainly don't see public schools as a lesser choice.
Ideally, I'd like for every parent to be able to choose a school based on what best suits their child's personality/interests. That could mean a university-entrance focused school (often private...although I went to one which was public), a school with specialist programs, a school with teachers/a culture which supports the particular student in some way....etc. Having worked in a variety of schools, I'd say that most schools are perfect for some students.
That said, of course those with less money have less choice about schooling - hence why I'm passionate about high quality public schooling. Personally, I'd be happy sending my child to any of the public schools where I've worked - and I've worked in some particularly "bad" schools - unless/until any problems developed specific to my child.