“My impression when I retired in 2015 from high school teaching was that many students did not understand why they were in school, other than the law said they had to be there.”
I expect that’s because the parents didn’t tell their children why. That wouldn’t happen if all education were privately funded and voluntary, as it should be. Parents who pay for schooling their own children would certainly be able to explain in detail and specifically in ways the children would understand why they are doing so.
And we’d all be better off. It is not difficult or expensive to teach a child to read, write and do basic math. That’s all most of us will ever need or use. It doesn’t require a K-12 education to become self-sufficiently proficient in these skills. It especially doesn’t require an elaborately-funded social institution that systematically fails to serve at least 20% of its beneficiaries.
We should rethink our approach to education in radical ways. Until we do, “Because the law says so” will continue to be the only good reason public school parents can give for sending their children away from home each day.