Have schools let the students down? In some ways, no and in some regards, yes. If you want to pursue an academic program, classes are offered to help you succeed. But those who want to learn a vocation are often out of luck. In the old days, shop and practical classes were required such as typing, metal and wood working, auto mechanics, and cooking and sewing. Wow, have things ever changed! Now you are lucky to learn how to use a laptop in school. Shop used to be a viable elective, but it is rarely on the curriculum due to lowered school budgets.
But I, for one, believe that you should teach kids to work with their hands whether it is to fix cars or build something with jigsaws (see https://www.woodworknation.com/best-jigsaw-reviews/) and other woodworking tools that they might not have access to at home. This might lead to a good life-long career, if not a usable skill at home. Jobs in manufacturing and the automotive industry are not being filled with former students any more. People must apprentice or learn on the job, making them start at the bottom rung of the ladder. Someone has to lobby for more school resources for these ignored students. There is a huge gap in the current education system.
I vote for requiring at least one shop class for normal students and more for those seeking vocational training. Former shop teachers are now teaching other subjects. They have been compelled to change routes due to budget cuts. Otherwise, they lose their jobs. I say, let them go back to their specialties alongside history or science. People with multiple teaching skills should be treasured. Many years ago, when shop was popular, students used to thank me for such a valuable program. They mention that they would never have learned a trade any other way. In fact, they might have had to drop out of school at the legal age to go into an apprenticeship. No child should be denied a full-term education in order to secure future work as an adult. I know they have separate tracts in Europe, so why not in the U.S.?
We allocate funds for athletics in most schools and perhaps a tiny bit of this large budget could go to shop classes. Both are equally important, but shop gets short shrift. I remember when students in woodworking shop would make the most beautiful things. A jigsaw was always present. They could make home repairs and at the same time learn how to furnish the place with hand-made furniture and cabinets. I can’t think of anything more practical for those students with innate skill. But sadly, shop has gone the way of art classes, music, and dance in the schools. Personal expression is as devalued as manual dexterity. How wrong we are!
All you can do is stand up for your principles and get the word out. I harp at the school administrators and try to get the parents on board. If the community will follow suit, we can make some real progress.