There are many indications suggesting that American education does a poor job of teaching values. The overall picture is one in which there are inconsistent outcomes which often tend to have a sociologically identifiable basis, namely, the education level of the parents or parent.
One example of a lack of decency on the part of an educated professional is the conduct of Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer, who organized a hunting expedition to Zimbabwe where the people he hired lured Cecil the lion from a protected national park to an unprotected area outside of the park's boundaries, where Palmer shot the lion with a bow and arrow, which wounded him as he continued to live until one of the hired men could finish the task. Palmer had previously gotten into trouble with U.S. Fish and Wildlife rangers for hunting a bear. Dentists are supposed to understand something about biology. They should also have a strong sense of ethics. A report on Frontline on PBS about dental clinics showed a mother who had taken her daughter to a chain of children's dental clinics that only accepts Medicaid. The dentist assigned to the case did not handle the treatment well as the child was in pain. The dentist couldn't finish the job. Another dentist was brought in, but if I recall, the filling that finally was put in later fell out. The women began to doubt if the dental work that the clinic recommended and tried to complete was even necessary. Years ago, one of the news magazine shows such as ABC News 20/20 or NBC Dateline did a report in which a correspondent went to different dentists and was given differing diagnoses of supposed cavities and recommendations for fillings. Before going to these dentists in private practice, the correspondent had an exam with a professor of dentistry at a dental school who gave him a complete assessment of his teeth. So he knew what his dental status was before going to see these various dentists. This was years ago so I don't remember the details, but it seems that many of not all of the dentists wanted to drill and repair teeth which the professor found to be perfectly normal. The report concluded that since the average dental patient has no way of knowing for sure what the x-rays show, a person is taking a chance of having unncessary work done by going to the dentist.
There are people who did not receive the best possible education and who can't see when money and influence in business is causing politicians to favor the interests of a small number of rich people over that of the majority of people, or when harm could occur to people who already are near the bottom when it comes to income, social status, and influence over public policies.
People don't seem to be objecting to how robotics is threatening the future of many, especially the most vulnerable of workers, but of some professionals as well.
Reckless driving where people are unduly aggressive and drive too fast to allow for a margin of safety, even though their impatience is not justified because their destination is not all that important, not worth getting into an accident over, and where too many people don't care about anyone other than themselves shows that education did not leave any great impression when it comes to common sense and respect for life and property, even one's own.
A lack of knowledge in America does not stop many people from being highly opinionated, even if only to repeat someone else's opionion, as factually mistaken or extreme as it may be, simply because it someone seems to be the trending thing. Individuals have trouble noticing things or appreciating the physical world of the senses that surround them. Our educational system comes across to me as having caused actual physiological developmental damage due to inadequate brain stimulation. This is often cited in connection with a lack of preschool and with children who are from lower-income families, but I am convinced that it also often applies to middle class children, who were deprived of certain developmental experiences at different points in their educational past.
The schools apparently put quite a lot of emphasis on social stratification and inequality as a measuring stick of human worth, because many base their attitudes toward others on social class, even when individuals are fairly far down the totem pole of social class and education. At times, the schools have seemed too strict when it comes to enforcing rules and discipline, and yet, they have passed some students along who didn't learn the basics and should have been held back. That would have been the more honest, if more inconvenient, route to have taken.
The idea that schools are exclusively future job training facilities will end in a low-quality of life for many people. People are not required to go to college and therefore are not forced into taking out thousands in student loans. Without education beyond high school, one's options are increasingly limited. But experts in artificial intelligence have said that even a certain number of white collar, professional jobs will be lost in the future to automation. Not everyone has the same level of intellectual capacity or ability. Differences in ability and in education have a genetic basis to some extent, but being of a working class background is a profound cultural difference from more professional circles, unlikely to be overcome in all instances if someone is replaced by automation. There is much about education and upward mobility that is not understood. No doubt, there are some important differences among people who from the standpoint of social class may seem to be alike.
Higher education has become increasingly an instrument of social Darwinism. Contributing to the profits of corporations instead of serving more impractical but intangible goals of knowledge for the sake of knowledge, of finding ways to help the least fortunate and less talented, of creating a sense of norms and values that everyone agrees to follow so that there is a civilization that can be recognized are areas that have concerned academia in the past. Today, the funding streams and new-found ambitions of professors have moved America away from any values other than pecuniary ones. The masses have a certain level and amount of technical knowledge and skills, although the U.S. lags behind a number of other countries in terms of science and math achievement levels. In terms of appreciating life as being unique, short-lived, and therefore precious, and worthy of appreciation for its own intrinsic values and characteristics, education has significantly failed, and on multiple levels.