| Well, you can argue that they "ruined" math education, but they weren't "idiots." The New Math was developed in the 1960s mostly by college professors and advanced math people in reaction to the "Space Race." The idea was to introduce mathematical abstractions (set theory, formalizations of analysis, etc.) at lower levels in education, which might be beneficial to students who were heading toward engineering and science degrees.
The Soviets had a better idea. Teach standard mathematics faster to the brightest students, and kick their ass.
Personal experience: Newly entering graduate students in physics who were from Russia said that they had covered the material in the mathematical methods for physics course in secondary school before college. That means, for example, single variable calculus at age 13, multi-variable at age 14, and by the end of high school, ordinary & partial differential equations, complex and real analysis, linear algebra, Fourier/Laplace transforms, and a bit of group theory.