The light went on for me today. It's subtle but oh so clear.
Today's Page-A-Day calendar (daily excerpts from the book, Eats, Shoots & Leaves) has this quote:
The trouble with grammar books is that they are read principally by keen foreigners; meanwhile, native English-speakers who require their help are the last people who will make the effort to buy and read them.
I showed it to my next-desk office buddy, and she mentioned that they're not used by schools either. That's what flipped the light switch on.
The education establishment is dominated by people on the Left. People on the Left value "fairness" above all, with fairness meaning (to them), equal outcomes for everyone. Then-Candidate Obama said as much with his "spread the wealth around" comment to Joe the Plumber.
So what does that say about education?
It says that if America is on the top worldwide, that's not fair. After all, traditionally we have the biggest, best military (well, maybe China has more people in their military, but we're still the best); we have the biggest, most robust economy; we have the best advances in medicines and health care techniques. The Left just can't handle having all that best-itude in one place. They have to "spread the wealth around."
And they've decided to start with education. They don't teach our kids spelling and grammar and punctuation, but instead let them figure it out for themselves eventually. Which doesn't translate well onto the achievement tests.
A while back, my Page-A-Day calendar said that in the UK, by the age of 8 schoolchildren have been taught the three major uses of the comma (in lists, before dialogue, to set off a clause). So I asked my office buddy if her 9 year old has learned any of that. He hasn't. And the teacher is letting him spell things any way he wants to. There's some sort of psychobabble term for letting them keep their self-esteem over their spelling.
It's all part of the agenda. Make American kids do poorly so some other country's kids get a chance to shine. It's only fair.