Many critics of American (and probably every other kind as well) education seem to suffer from the illusion that all students are created equal, and that their success or failure depends only on what teachers pour into them. Experienced teachers (and parents?) know that kids come with very different sets of skills and abilities, and it is part of the educational challenge to play on the strengths and shore up the weaknesses. One of the single greatest problems for the average teacher is how to meet this variety of needs in a single class.
For example, a teacher friend of mine sent identical email to her three absent students. In this email she inquired after their health and reminded them of the work she would expect when they returned. She got these three replies (some details have been changed to protect the guilty, but the style and gist are original):
"Oh, okay thank you so much! I will get right to the homework. For the yellow history triangle, I remember you saying to fill that out as we go, even if we were in history or not, but it only goes through Dec. 16th. I was assuming we would receive another sheet or just finish that current one but I was not sure?"
"hi i will back on monday i do not have the spelling test or the vocab test. do i have to turn in the the writing prep 2 i did it but its not on computer grades?"
"it's already better so it' fine and i've just been hanging out but i might go up to the pass this weekend so ya thanks bye"
You begin to see the problem?