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Of all the hundreds of questions provoked by the K-12 morass, here is the fundamental one: are the top people incompetent or are they subversive?
Anybody who studies K-12 will come to this impasse: is the Education Establishment clueless or conspiratorial?
Charlotte Iserbyt wrote a famous book which you can find free on the Internet: "The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America." The key word is deliberate.
The 20th century was particularly violent because ideologies ran rampant. Leaders had visions of better worlds, and the only way to achieve them was to kill millions of people. Remember Pol Pot?
Education in America was, I believe, a sideshow of that much larger show. Still, ideology has played a bigger part in education than most people think about.
Here is a short article on this difficult subject: "K-12… Warped by Ideology."