If you don’t know people from a wide variety of places within the U.S., you will get a distorted perception of how it is in other places. My wife that grew up in an exclusive Boston suburb where almost everyone graduated (public) high school and not going to college was a reason to be looked down on. I grew up in an impoverished region of Louisiana that was roughly half black and half white. The black dropout rate was about 50% and the white dropout rate was about 25%. That isn’t all that unusual if you start looking at a map of the U.S. and all the areas where this happens from the rust belt, to poor Latino communities, to the rural south and everywhere in between.
However, that statistic in particular is not a perfect indicator that something has gone irreversibly wrong. My SIL has no high school diploma and yet was a chemical engineer and now a tenured clinical psychology professor. My younger brother is a police officer and is about to graduate with his bachelors degree from a large, well known state school in December. He had to drop out of high school for promise of expulsion (really terrible zero tolerance story).
High school doesn’t mean all that much in this country anymore and college is where it is at for almost everything. Someone that has the smarts to make it in college or a good technical school doesn’t actually need the high school diploma to pull that off although the diploma is traditional and can make things easier. Community colleges will take almost anyone and send people without diplomas to the front of the line in that state’s college system which may be quite good.