Sometimes the education establishment tries to use the fact that American students don't do badly in the lower grades. That is true: Our children are not stupid. It is just that the longer they stay in our school system, the further they fall behind the rest of the world.
This is not accidental. Far too many public schools have far too many other agendas than providing children with intellectual skills. Political propaganda is just one. Using the children as guinea pigs for fashionable notions is another. And, at the top of the agenda is protecting the jobs of teachers, even those who are grossly incompetent.
Those who engineered this educational disaster have lots of glib excuses. One of the most popular is that students and parents are flawed. The great non sequitur seems to be that, if there is anything wrong with parents or students, there can't be anything wrong with the schools.
But, if the current crop of "educators" had better students, better parents, and more money, all that it would amount to would be smaller classes in nicer surroundings having their time wasted on the fads and fetishes that take the place of education in our classrooms.
We would have more expensive incompetence. And we would have more children being prepared to be led by pied pipers, like the little boy with his sign and his fist in the air.