The fact is, it would be a lie to say that schools teach "reading, writing, and 'rithmetic" these days. Sounding out words, memorizing 6 x 4 - we're obviously going to lose these kids if we demand that they master these basic skills. This is the kind of thinking that pervades education, and as a new educator, I want to do terrible things to the snake oil salesmen who have peddled this ideology.
But don't lay the fault squarely on the teachers. Many publications often pit parents (who depise EM) against teachers (who unqualifiedly embrace it). But practically every teacher I know (that's a lot) depises the fuzzy math programs to which our schools have subscribed.
I am a new teacher, 23, but I learned mathematics from a traditionalist perspective. I came to my school, as a newly minted educator, and I was horrified by the Impact Math textbook that I was expected to use. It is worse than Everyday Mathematics. It is constructivism on steroids, and I wish more people would talk about this program, because it gets short shrift compared to Everyday Math.
At no point does the textbook spell out any procedure necessary to solve a problem. It is riddled with convoluted "discovery" exercises that theoretically will help students induce the right answer, and the right way (or ways) to get there. There is a dearth of practice problems (i.e. the kind of problems that students will be expected to answer on a standardized test).
So how did I adjust? I simply never used the textbook. It could never work with CTT students who, across the board, were years behind in mathematics. I taught the way I was taught the material. It's a challenge because every night I have to hunt for activities and problems. But I do believe that the students have responded very well. It's a shame, because they don't have a standard reference (textbook) to help them do their homework at night, but even if we used the Impact Textbook, they would not have a reference.
Practically every teacher I know who has had the misfortune of inheriting Impact Mathematics does some variation of what I do. Even my principal is baffled by the textbook, but it was sold as the most widely used textbook out there. The higher-ups (chancellor and his ilk) are gung-ho about constructivist learning, and as a result, teachers, and sometimes even administrators, are slaves to a system they despise.
But hey, it's a change from the old way, and any change is good, right?