Although not a teacher I can remember when I was a student. I placed upon myself the responsibility to learn from any teacher, whether that teacher was good, or bad (and there is no uniformity in that respect). My perception is that good students now, generally, have the attitude that it isnot their responsibility to learn. I wonder if the broad exposure kids have had to mass media over the last couple of decades have caused kids to expect to sit there passively and be spoon fed education in the same way that television entertains them.
Obviously, other things are at work as well. More single parent households and, even where you have traditional mom and dad type configuration, more moms in the work place with more latch key kids as a result.
I have another question. Would the elimination of the department of education help, or hurt, education at the local level. If so, why (or why not?)