Then what are we teaching?

So I was reading this article in eSchool News about how concerned the American public is about the state of education in our country. It would appear (according to the poll) that we are not preparing students to be competitive in the mod-ren age.
Americans are deeply concerned that the United States is not preparing students with the skills they need to compete in the new global economy, according to the poll. Eighty-eight percent of voters say they believe schools can, and should, incorporate 21st-century skills such as critical thinking and problem solving, communication and self-direction, and computer and technology skills into the curriculum.

I really cannot argue with this as I also agree that we should be prepping our children to excel at problem solving and to think critically and ask questions about the world around them, I mean, look at the problems we face that they are going to have to solve: global warming, AIDs, extreme poverty, Northern Virginia traffic. However, just because the perception at large is that we are not teaching these types of skills does not mean that we aren't. Maybe we are so busy teaching that we are not doing a good job at PR? (more teacher blogging needed?) I digress, The reality is that these complicated, ill-defined problems don't have answers that will be solved by students who are experts at regurgitating facts, right? So, why are we assessing students in such a one-dimensional manner?

One disclaimer, the poll was commissioned by a group known collectively as the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. I'm sure that their hearts are set on creating a highly qualified workforce (currently in 5th grade) but there might be a wee bit of bias here. I mean, how altruistic can a group be whose members depend on these 21st century skills to produce and consume the products that they build? Of course, they are just problem solving, right?

source: eSchool News online - Voters urge teaching of 21st-century skills; Partnership for 21st Century Skills