Actually both are true. I was involved with a top 10 ranked college of engineering in a capacity that dealt with incoming students. This was in the late 80s. The math ability of the incoming American students dropped DRASTICALLY over my 4 years. Not in the top 20%, but in the next 50% group, the ones who become your bread-and-butter engineers.
It got much worse in the subsequent years (I stayed in touch).
Combine the points we are both making and they mean the USA is losing it’s engineering base. That will doom a nation both economically and militarily. After all, for all the ripping of engineers as “nerds,” they are essential for everything from cars to roads to chairs to bridges to weapons to medical equipment to spaceflight. Without a solid engineering base, a nation cannot compete. Period.
In 1993 I was laid off my job as an EQ Coordinator in a Nuclear Plant, part of a group in plant engineering. The following three years while I searched for another job, I got to know a lot of engineers who, though highly qualified, were not offered jobs.
Instead, companies were trying to bring in foreigners on work visas, to work as contractors.
One group I became acquainted with had 250,000 members of unemployed engineers from various fields. The children of those laid off engineers no doubt looked to work in fields other than engineering.
Why bother to study for an engineering degree when companies like Microsoft and Apple prefer to hire foreign engineers? When American companies start to once again begin hiring Americans, then young people here will return to math and science.
Just for the record, my kid was home schooled and could do calculus and algebra before he was sixteen. Not a genius, but he is very imaginative, creative, and works hard. He will be going into IT.