"I admit that if you have schools whose goal is to get students to pass standardized tests, rather than to understand science, then you don't need a science teacher who is current in the field, or even a science teacher. All you need is a proctor who can teach students to memorize textbooks and short answers, from workbooks published by Pearson or McGraw-Hill, based on 10-year-old material."
I suggest you try that. Get back to us when it fails miserably. And 10 year old curriculum is common. You don't need current curriculum to understand science. Facts change.
"The best high school science teacher is a Nobel laureate"
What data do you have to back that up? And since we are using anecdotes, my worst science teacher told me tales of working with really good scientists. Also, I don't think Linus Pauling would have been a great science teacher...
"Of course, if you do that, you'll have another Sputnik moment, when the U.S. is overtaken by the Europeans and Asians, who (in their best schools) do have a good science education."
First, we actually want to teach ALL of our students. Second, we already produce more scientists than we employ. There is no STEM crisis (unless you mean unemployment crisis in their field of training). Third, any Sputnik moment will be caused by those opposed to science running the government (centered largely around the Republican party at the moment, but not limited to it).