H.L. Mencken, who wrote in The American Mercury (April 1924) that “the aim of public education is not to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. . . . Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim . . . is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States . . . and that is its aim everywhere else.”No dissent. No originality. Little actual teaching.
No history. No geography. Stupid experiments like the open concept school or whole language - which any moron could guess wouldn't work, but that were adopted with fervor by the educational establishment. Because the educational establishment isn't interested in education. (Ask the teachers' unions what they think of paying better teachers more money, or of even getting rid of bad teachers.)
Watch the old PBS documentary "The Civil War" by Ken Burns. The letters written by poor, dirt farmers on the eve of battle are incredible. Writing home to their mothers, wives, or sweetheart, they wrote moving letters. Why could we educate people 150 years ago and we can't do it today?