I’m starting to think that the only reason why it seems like there is some massive problem in the US secondary education system is that a high school diploma no longer gets one a job. So people conclude that something is wrong with the schools and flog them to death. But it’s not the schools, it’s changing reality.
The students who come to college unprepared and barely literate wouldn’t have been more prepared in the past. They would have been exactly the same but we wouldn’t see them because they’d be hidden from view in their manufacturing jobs. Now that there are no more manufacturing jobs, these young people want to join the world of more comfortable, less mechanistic work. And as a result, the educated classes can no longer pretend that these young people don’t exist.
None of this is a problem of the school system per se, though.