If the goal of our current K-12 system is to create well-rounded citizens with a solid base of knowledge, why isn't that goal being tested properly? I keep hearing about accountability and standards and learning outcomes, but are any of these things artifacts of authentic, lasting learning? If the system is working, then five years after graduating from high school, most students should still remember a good chunk of the most important things they were taught and be able to show how they might be applied in the real world.
How well would you do on a Grade 11 algebra exam right now? How's your current knowledge of your country's political history? Photosynthesis? Even those of us who remember some of this stuff would have a hard time explaining how the "knowledge" had helped us in any meaningful way. Educational reformers would tend to agree that the system is not achieving its goals (maybe has never achieved them), but the solution isn't to do more of the same thing...it's time to question the goals themselves.