One side effect of formal education's enslavement of the young for so many years, is that people often have little real world common sense until much later in life than they otherwise would. I experienced this myself. Part time jobs, and outside interests often provide more real world education than schools.
Since most Government programs are ineffective, or even result in the opposite of what they intend, it makes sense that public education is not very effective (unless by effective we mean mass socialization to some accepted norm). But increasingly, even private education seems to be lacking. In part, I suspect that this is because most private and public schools follow pretty much the same implicit model. This model holds that everyone must be taught pretty much the same subjects for many, many years of their lives. This model holds that committees, not individual teachers, choose curriculums (imagine the creative wonderfulness that some teachers would employ if permitted). It holds that college Education degrees somehow correlate with teaching skill. It holds that individuals are more alike than they are different.
I'm trying to provide food for thought here. Perhaps whatever becomes universal decreases in value. It is wrong to EVER place motivated and unmotivated students together. Perhaps a return to the apprenticeship system is called for, it is underrated. Perhaps corporate sponsored or internet access private education will eventually supersede much of the current system.
Perhaps government subsidy of the welfare class (I do not mean to say this is wrong, but everything has side effects at this level of reality), as well as foolish attempts to keep birth-control away from children (attempts often initiated by the religious) has probably created millions more disadvantaged children than would otherwise exist, and that this burden on educational systems was thus inevitable.
Of course, the most important education is self-education. In my life, I've noticed little correlation between true intelligence, and quantity of formal education. We've all met some well-educated people who are complete idiots, and met wise people who left school early.
P.S. There's an interesting lesson about some educators' motivations in the below true, personal story:
When I was in college, I'd occasionally go to Department Heads to ask permission to register for a course for which I lacked the prerequisites. The Mathematics people ALWAYS allowed me to sign up. The Psychology people NEVER allowed this! The irony of this is that Math is a subject where you'd better have the groundwork prepared for a given course or you'll flounder. In Psychology, you'd probably do just as well (and more importantly, learn just as much) in many graduate courses if you'd taken few or none of the prerequisites. These Psych department pseudo-educators were trying to defend their social science model of Psychology (a model inappropriately copied from the physical sciences), by being strict with prerequisites that meant little.