I don't think that's it's as much a "problem" as a particular implementation of a shared social object (an education system/philosophy). As such, it has its ups-and-downs. The American system favors to promote well-rounded creative challenging thinkers as opposed to highly skilled scientists or mathematicians - that stuff is relegated to advanced and post-graduate study. From first grade through high school and college, even when you finally elect a speciality, you're still expected to study other things.
The down-side to this system is that it can discourage and neglect individual student's strengths. I'd be a better programmer today if I'd been on a tech track from an early age - I'll never know what I might have achieved if I hadn't spent so many hours of my formative years studying things that have little practical value for me now, some years into my career.
The up-side is that the system often produces what it alludes to in concept. Certainly America and Americans have plenty of problems education and otherwise, but American is still a place that places a huge value on creative thinking, of being a masterful engineer and just a little bit more - and it presents opportunities to those who can innovate in spaces where others are simply engineering.
With all due respect, that's a pretty subjective opinion. After we acknowledge that their isn't an equivalent product on the market today that sells for less (please spare me the "But you could just build your own linux tablet/netbook!" slashpartyline), we can admit that while, yes, Apple does make margins on iPads, so do educational text book publishers - and have you seen what those cost? The profit margin on a secondary school hard-bound biology book is probably orders of magnitudes higher than Apple's take on an iPad.
Tablets offer us new and rich mediums for teaching. Of course there will be downsides to a digital shift, but anyone who takes a stand firmly against the proliferation of tablets in schools does so in the face of overwhelming and obvious evidence that they can serve an unprecedented function - sitting around and saying "a laptop is better and cheaper!" totally misses the point - tablets and laptops can and should work in harmony in the future, they're not mutually exclusive in task or function, but each certainly can have it's place - and different schools are free to choose (here's wishing they all had the means to make whatever choice they wanted) different devices from different manufactures for different platforms. That's how schools have made decisions about technology for years, and despite lack of funding, it seems to have worked just fine.
How many reporters do you know? I happen to know one or two writers for the NYT that make a pittance of a salary. Yes, they get reasonable expense accounts. Most journalists in this country would be lucky to have *that*.
And why do they get expense accounts? Why does anyone in any industry get an expense account? For one thing, it enables (in principle) the worker to perform their job better than they otherwise might. For a journalist, it's the opportunity to meet people over drinks and lunch, make connections, learn about things. You may consider this superfluous, but there are plenty of people who are willing to pay for journalism that realize it isn't.
Second, the accounts are a perk, yes. And why shouldn't they be? News and journalism works in free-markets like everything else. In every sector, you have people who do mediocre work, bad work, good work, and amazing work. Companies and markets strive to compensate them accordingly. So if you're a top tier journalist, who's to say a company shouldn't offer you an expense account to do your job? You can argue again that it's a waste, but you'd better toe the same line when it comes to every other business sector under the sun.
Journalists, editors, publishers, all are individuals who do potentially rough work (not in every case, but in some) that serves broader society in a way that is both practically relevant and creatively compelling. They deserve to be compensated, compensated well in some some cases, and not just by someone looking to make a buck off an ad placement on a blog.
Premature optimization is the root of all evil. -- D.E. Knuth