Before Education Reform, the US was the acknowledged leader of the world at large in Education. Since Education Reform has become Education's "Dictator", factoring in the Cost of Living (COLA) adjustment since approximately1974, costs per student have increased from (depending upon the source you reference) between 262% and 300%, and scores have stagnated (increases are less than an accepted margin of error, 3%"at every level) completely, "for all students", and our world-ranking has dropped to between (choose your reference) between 9th and 18th best in the workd, a legitimate plunge into mediocrity.
Teachers are better trained than ever before - could it be that every one of them is an incompetent buffoon? Nevermind the 10,000 Frenchmen... we are talking about of hundreds of thousands of teachers... and they all just stink?
The children are essentially the same, although Conservatives will argue that they have plunged the depths of depravity - but let's embrace the more objective idea and give the kids the benefit of the doubt, that they haven't "worsened", for the moment.
We cannot blame the children (no matter what), and common sense dictates that there simply cannot be hundreds of thousands of dedicated, highly trained imbeciles all coincidentally huddled up in a single profession - the idea itself is intellectually insulting, and defies the laws of Probability, to boot.
Maybe - just maybe - we have neglected to look at the real source of the problem. For all the good that has come from Education Reform, could there possibly exist significant problems in numerous "Reform" laws, that disallow teachers to do their job, every day? I am a teacher, and I believe so.
After all, when was the last time somebody blamed a source other than the teachers publicly? I'll be happy to be that person.