I have two questions for you. What year did you start school? What year did you graduate? Jot down your answers.
For most people reading here those two dates are about 13 years apart. Most likely you were 5 years old when you started school and about 18 for graduation. This has been normal in the US public school system for a little better than 50 years.
Depending on where you lived prior to October 17, 1979, your school district may have had significantly different attendance and graduation standards. It was possible and common in some locations to start school around 7 years old and graduate around 16. What happened in 1979 was the formation of the department of education. One of the goals of the department was to standardize the education system in the United States.
Most institutions and systems in a society change slowly. This is due in part to the traditionally slow innovation of principles and ideas that are held in common by a society. This is also due in part to the nature of human life cycle.
In the last century public school teachers often started a career as early as 18 to 20 years old. Sometimes as young as 16 years old and sometimes as old as 23 or 24. Prior to about mid 1980's a man was able to start work as a teacher and support a family reasonably well in most school districts. This does not seem to be the case since the 1980's, although some districts may be paying new teachers fairly well.
Another factor in the pay scale is the pension. In years past districts that paid pensions normally only required 20 years of service to draw the pension. Granted a few required 30 years of service and in some cases teachers would work the full 30 (or more) years out of a desire to keep teaching. For my purposes I'm going to ball park a teachers career as 20 to 30 years.
Prior to 1947, the start of the baby boom in America, very little had changed in public school format or ideology from one generation to the next. Public schools were still teaching out of McGuffey Readers. Creationism was taught. Basic Judeo/Christian ethics and sometimes doctrine were taught alongside of and as part of the course work. The teacher could spank a disruptive child. Mom was at home and Mom and Dad could be counted on to show up for parent teacher conferences.
By the 1953/54 school year, it was apparent that school enrollments were growing at a fast rate. Population estimates were showing a steady trend of increasing enrollment and demand was growing for new teachers.
A young women entering the teaching profession in the fall of 1953, with a four year bachelors degree would have been between 20 and 22 years old. She would have been brought up with a school experience that would be considered strict and morally rigorous by todays standards. Her idea of "normal" in a sociological sense would have been based on the norms of the 1940's, which were basically unchanged from her grandparents time.
As the demand for teachers grew over the next 20 years each new year saw a new batch of educators join the system. With all the new kids entering school more and more people saw an opportunity to participate in the system. On the local level this meant more PTA's etc. On a national level it took the form of court cases that radically changed the face of America's value system. By the late 1960's various court cases had completely reengineered the value system and social norms taught in the public schools.
Let's assume something about our crop of new teachers circa 1953. Lets assume they all were radical right wing ultra conservative religious zealots that were committed to how things were when they were growing up. Lets assume that they won all the hearts and minds they taught, they fought the system, and with the blessing of the school board, they got away with it. By 1974 everyone who took their pension after 20 years was out of the school. By 1984 everyone who took it at 30 years were out. Even if the entire crop of teachers started at 20 years old, by 1998 they reached 65 and most likely retired.
During the time period from 1974 forward each year a new crop of teachers would come on board while the old guard retired. If you started school from 1970 to 1980 there was a great chance that you would encounter at least one teacher who was brought up under the "old system". If you started school after 1980 you still had a decent chance of encountering teachers who believed in the old social norms or at least were brought up with them. After 1990 it is extremely unlikely to have a teacher with "old school ways" as the default norm they grew up under.
If you are over 35 years old, and didn't grow up in an urban school with major problems, you probably regard your education experience as "pretty good". It probably was. The school boards that ran the school administration assumed that the idea of "normal" was pretty much what they were brought up with. Even with the various legal cases that changed things in format and curriculum, the teachers still believed in a standard of behavior that was basically traditional. Those people are either dead or retired now.
Time marches on. Since 1990 the odds of getting a teacher who was brought up in a traditional American education belief system have dropped from slim to none. It's not that we can't reform American education, its the fact that the generation now running the show don't see why there is any need to. What they have is "normal" to them.