To be honest, I don't see why Romeo and Juliet is taught in schools so often. Shakespeare wrote 36 plays (we think), and there's really only time to study a few in high school. So shouldn't we study the best ones?
There are definitely some things about Romeo and Juliet that are essential "pop culture" knowledge, like knowing the famous quotes and understanding that "wherefore" doesn't mean "where". I think everyone should read Romeo and Juliet. But I don't think it should necessarily be one of the plays classes spend a few months on.
Romeo and Juliet isn't a bad
play either. It's just... well, mediocre. It's one of his earlier and more immature plays. I enjoyed reading Lear and Macbeth and Julius Caesar way more than Romeo and Juliet, partly because they were simply more mature works. Furthermore, we never got to study any of Shakespeare's comedies or histories in school, which is an absolute tragedy (har har), because Shakespeare was a pretty funny guy.
Perhaps Grade 9 could be devoted to getting through Julius Caesar and Romeo and Juliet, Grade 10 to a few comedies (maybe Midsummer or The Merchant of Venice), Grade 11 to the histories (one of the Henrys and Richard III) and Grade 12 to the big tragedies (pick two of Hamlet, King Lear and Macbeth. The other could be assigned as independent reading). Just think how well students would understand Shakespeare as a playwright if they'd read more than just the tragedies? It's like only ever watching Robin Williams in his serious movies and ignoring the fact that he's actually a pretty successful comedian.
Anyway, yeah. Two stars might sound harsh, but I think it's justified on the scale of Shakespeare plays (if not on the scale of all literature).