Well, I teach high school. Nice school, nice kids, relatively decent education, vast majority go to college, most of those who go stay and graduate. I love my job.
I will tell you that if I REALLY want a written assignment done by 100 percent of the class--with no plagiarism or cheating or group-think or BS half-done crap--I have to do all the instruction in class (no written instruction sent home), allow most of the reading time in class (if they are responding to literature), have them do the thinking and planning in class, and when it comes time to actually produce, make the written portion silent in-class work and make it due before they leave class. If I send it home with them, the vast majority simply don't have the time or motivation to follow through with any seriousness.
I teach some wonderful kids, and I don't do this for every assignment, but if I want that 100 percent participation with maximum effort from all, this is what I generally have to do.
The mostly-suburban teens I teach simply don't have the time, parental support and parental discipline, and internal motivation to follow through on an assignment. Once that final bell rings, they are at work or at practice. They are working because they need to help pay for their insurance because they have to have a car so that they can drive themselves to sports practice and work, and since they have a car they also get to drive little brother or sister to sports and activities. They are practicing all year round because there is no such thing as a single season anymore--if they are excellent at one sport, they generally play that sport year-round intensively at the club level, because otherwise they just can't cut it when the season comes around, OR they play complementary sports for the same reason--or to keep themselves visible to the rest of the community and the coaches, so their name is still at the top of everyone's thoughts when their season does roll around.
There are actually punitive (I mean, "conditioning") measures for the few students in one sport. Players end up having to participate in extended pre-seasons before their sport rolls around--if they play club, they are exempt.
I'm not against sports, either. I'm just telling it like I see it. And if it's not sports, it's something else that is "their thing" that's not schoolwork. I teach a remarkable number of kids who dance 20 hours a week--I'm surprised Columbus, Ohio isn't known as the hotbed of American ballet talent!
My point is, school and study are not a priority--activities are. And once they're in an activity, they are IN--I can hear the parents in my head, "He's so talented... he takes 5 lessons a week... She's so dedicated... she's at it until 2 in the morning..." The pressure to do and achieve is astounding. And kids certainly feel pressure to achieve at school--but I'm not sure they understand the importance of actually learning. Learning is such a low priority that most kids don't even know what cheating is--they just do it, because they think the point of an assignment is to get it done and graded--not to learn something. By and large, the parents feel the same way.
I genuinely feel for kids sometimes--it's go-go-go on a multi-tasking agenda that they often have no control over or that has gotten out of all reasonable balance. IMO these kids should be excited by new and interesting things out there to learn--instead, they're mostly just exhausted.
I'm not sure this is an issue that can be solved by reforming "education."
But if I think back hard enough, I was overscheduled and exhausted as a teen, and so was every single one of my friends, and a lot of kids cheated, and the teachers complained that education wasn't a priority... so who knows.