There's unfortunately a lot of false propaganda in K-12 education.
One is the notion that a more educated populous (in science, history, general knowledge, etc.) results in a more economically prosperous workforce. While we certainly do need an upper echelon of the population to become intellectuals, become entrepreneurs, and be the 'drivers' of society, there really isn't any economic gain in hyper-emphasizing purely-academic subjects in K-12 for the masses. It's very desirable for everyone to be academically smart, of course, but we should not unilaterally focus on this at the cost of much more relevant skills for the masses. For example, why aren't there core-educational requirements in high school on personal financial management, economics (often an elective), stock market investing, job placement initiatives in senior year, explanation of pros/cons of college, and so on. Currently, we are told of this "competition" with India and China in math and science achievement, and then transform our national curriculum to focus on very academic fields with no real relevance to the students' future personal success. Which brings me to my next point...
There's this myth that we need more students interested in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Certainly, there's some truth in the importance of STEM fields - but the solution is way off the mark. The reality is that most STEM jobs go to people with graduate degrees and PhDs, and there are far, far more graduates per year than jobs openings available. If anything the solution to the "American STEM Crisis" is a discussion that should be had among college educators, and not K-12. The reality is that the average person in the US would benefit far more by emphasizing more relevant, and "real-world" topics than physics, chemistry, and biology. Here's an excellent article by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers discussing the STEM myth:http://spectrum.ieee.org/at-work/education/the-stem-crisis-is-a-myth
The reality is that Americans have never really been very 'smart' or 'educated' - yet we were the most prosperous country for most of the 20th century. Most K-12 teachers get very limited, if any, business education. If more were aware about the economic realities their students will face after graduation, their approach would be very different.