The American educational system is an abysmal failure, though it is true, that there is a subset of students that do amazingly well on academic tests and scores. However, it is also true that the scores for American students in aggregate is absolutely pathetic, especially in comparison to other countries, so that, American students barely beat the OECD average in science and reading, and are below the OECD average in mathematics. That might even be fine, if instead on concentrating on tests, test scores, homework, and grades, American students spent time actually taking the most important class, that apparently is never taught: which is life skills.
While there is a lot to be said about doing well academically and absorbing information in a way that students can test well and to learn their subjects well so as to be able to appear competent for a given job; it is a monumental mistake not to take into account that students need to learn other valuable life skills -- such as being highly competent in their communications skills as well as knowing how to cooperate well with others, as well as being competent with numbers/mathematics and their application in the real world, while also understanding the value and importance of establishing good credit, along with establishing a sound moral code, in addition to understanding the basics of home economics, as well as a good understanding of the pro and con of social media accounts, and finally a real good understanding of how justice, law, and policing works in the real world.
While some may say that experience is the best teacher in life, one of the main points of going to school in the first place is recognizing theoretically that electricity can kill you, without having to experience it in reality. This means, that students need to be prepared for the real world, In a manner, in which they are thoroughly prepared, especially because in the richest nation that the world has ever known, there are all sorts of hustles being done each and every day, and those that do not understand the game, are often going to lose in that sort of game, because they are at a severe disadvantage.
Additionally, while there may well be value in being book smart, there is much more value in someone that is both book smart as well as life skills smart, and to concentrate exclusively on the former, is not good enough, for life skills are absolutely necessary to successfully navigate the strong and dangerous currents of a life in which being a smart sheep, isn't going to get someone all that far, especially when facing a pack of wolves.
The sooner that any student recognizes that ultimately they are sovereign and that they are responsible for the decisions that they make, the sooner that they will recognize that thinking, perception, communication, and responsibility most definitely have a very valued place in their life. These are the very attributes that should be developed and encouraged within our student body, so that, it must be noted, that good adults, that are a credit to their family, to their community, and to their country, more readily come about from those that have developed good life skills and have been prepared for such by sound public school education that emphasizes such.