Yes, there certainly is a problem with schools in America. Lark is painting with a pretty broad brush when he says they produce nothing but dumb people however. You can still get a good education, even at a bad school, provided you have drive and self reliance.
If Hank is going to blame the troubles on 'Big Corporations' then I'm going to blame the lefties who put kids in diversity training and hug therapy classes instead of math and science. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for diversity. Hugs are great. But let's be serious for a minute people. The public schools in America had better start to act their age. Seriously, if someone has a hang nail they cancel class and call in the grief counselors. If I had to do it over again I would have gone into grief counseling. Talk about a growth industry, good grief. The students today are slowly learning that how they feel is far more important than what they know.
To fix the problem they created the schools adopt bare minimum, poorly crafted standards like Goals 2000, School To Work, and the Profile of Learning. Trust me, this is serious Mickey Mouse shit. The students get coached through it and passed on to graduation all the while being told that they need to go on to college. In lump sum, they move on to the nearest university to have their tuition coddled away from them. It's pretty disgusting because a lot of these kids believe they are being educated, only to have the rug yanked out from under them when they attempt to join a work force they are totally unprepared for.
Myself?...after 12 years at public schools I put myself through four years of private college and started my dream job a month after graduating. Does that make me smart in the eyes of some European wonk? I could give a flying fuck. At the end of the day...I know I'm smart.
(To lark's credit, some of the best work being done in my field is coming out of the Royal Academy of Art in London. To my credit, my yankee work is still better than theirs.)