Hugh, I kind of got lost in the hyper-jump from page 2 to 3 but Home Economics is alive and kicking in the USA.
Maybe you googled Home Ec and we weren't there. We underwent a refocus and name change about 15 or so years ago (probably after you left high school). Instead of focusing on preparing girls to be homemakers, the focus is on the family and the skills needed in the family. The new (to you) name is Family & Consumer Sciences (FACS in some places, FCS in others). We are certainly not using forty year old curriculum. We use contemporary national standards and the names and focus of courses have changed. Cooking is now Nutrition & Wellness. As for balancing a checkbook, passing a Personal Finance course is required for graduation in many states, including mine. FCS also focuses on preparation for the workplace (and dealing with the balance of career and family) with many school-to-career courses formerly known as Vocational Ed. Now it is Career and Technical Education.
Each of these CTE areas of study have co-curricular student leadership organizations, involving students beyond their own schools, out in the community and literally the world. I'm sure you would immediately recognize FBLA and FFA as our sister organizations. Future Homemakers of America is now FCCLA or Family, Career and Community Leaders of America,www.fcclainc.org. Please visit our educator professional organizations to get a better feel for what is going on in the classroom these days: www.aafcs.org (American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences since 1909) and www.acteonline.org (The Association for Career and Technical Education since 1926).
I teach in Rural America. It is true that income makes a difference in nutrition, the kids don't eat right, the parents don't cook. A teen vegetarian diet is French fries and Diet Dr Pepper. It is mostly microwave or prepackaged, Pop Tarts for breakfast and Hot Pockets for dinner. If you really want to get agitated, go to the freezer section of the grocery (don't go to Whole Foods or Wegmans, we don't have those in the boonies*) and hold your arms out straight both ways in the frozen vegetable section. That's usually about all there is. Now how many aisles are devoted to "pop and nuke" foods, high in sodium and fat, low in nutrition? It's our culture we are fighting. I try to affect teens one class at a time. It is true that many schools are closing our departments because it's not cheap and education is all about the money these days. How about helping us by getting the word out about the good we are doing? Visit some schools and programs that are working and bring that to America. Blessings! Shay (love food, love kids)
*Imagine trying to teach a positive nutrition program when availability of quality supplies is an issue for the teacher as well.