It's a cultural problem. And it's a structural problem.
The cultural problem also involves the parents. The ideal circumstance is a two-parent family with one wage-earner. That used to be the default arrangement. Now, it's a single-parent family or, if its a two-parent family, the kid is still consigned to daycare or latchkey status. In either event, less than ideal.
While they can still be overcome, a high proportion of kids today are handicapped by their circumstances.
And it's structural because the Colleges of Education are spewing out ill-trained (but highly indoctrinated) teachers who can't teach. They have been trained as "facilitators" (Lord, I hate that word), but are ignorant when it comes to knowledge of the subjects they must teach. That circumstance is, doubtless, because their teachers are ignorant.
And it's structural because the never-ending quest for centralization (and race mixing in the name of "diversity") has created gigantic, unmanageable temples of chaos. These replaced (and destroyed) the comfortable neighborhood school, which so involved children, parents, teachers and an administrator in one social fabric woven of trust and familiarity.
In that respect, there's nothing wrong with public education that a few truckloads of dynamite wouldn't fix.
And, if schools returned to the neighborhoods, I wonder what impact that would have on the culture...???
Bussing was one of the Great American Mistakes in history. It changed the direction and focus, the very goal, of public education. For the worse. And, perhaps, forever. Noting that it was the unintended (and inevitable) consequence of a liberal "good deed" doesn't make it any more palatable...
That's a huge part of the issue. But I came from a two-parent home, had a comfortable middle-class existence, went to a school without busing - but there still was a pronounced peer culture that belittled kids who tried to achieve. And that, IMO, is just as huge an impediment, especially in the black community, as all the higher-level social pathologies. And it is the hardest to solve, given that patholotical youth peer cultures, by nature, react negatively against efforts by authority figures to change them.