Late 80s-90s: "dumbing down" and "funning up"
Late 90s-today: standards and accountability
Think there's a "cause and effect" relationship there? I do.
I was in a meeting not too long ago, and one of my colleagues in that meeting said that the most important thing we teachers should do, more important than curriculum (he said that), is to look after the emotional well-being of our students. When I stated that that was the very reason we now have all these standardized testing programs that everyone complains about--because our profession took its eyes off the ball and tried to do everything except teach kids (think self-esteem, whole language, fuzzy math)--some people looked at me like I was crazy or something.
Never let the facts get in the way of your preconceived notions, I guess.