I will restrict my discussion to society in the contemporary United States.
The K-12 education machine is the pinnacle of detriment to American society. The graduation rates, especially in urban schools, that hover between 50% and 80% are evidence that education as practiced in most classrooms and schools does not engage students.
The lack of education contributes to crime, government dependence, and the cycle of poverty. There is an incredible amount of money poured into the education machine. However, the output doesn't come close to satisfactory.
Their seems to be this manipulation of the concept of class structure that relieves individuals of their duties to themselves, their families, their neighborhoods and their country. The book clearly defined the structure and I thought it was interesting that it seemed the lower class was more free than the others (perhaps ignorance is bliss). I see similar things in society today. Yet, people fall into the trap that it is ok to allow an upper class to grow stronger and have more power as long as they are providing more for the lower class. Every time the government grows to provide another service for its citizens, it appears to take something away, usually in the form of less privacy, or less rights to private property and such. Closer and closer to watching us regularly. This is coming about by manipulating the middle class to believe they are victims like the lower class and thus taking power from the most influencial group. In the book, my opinion was that the middle class, outer party members, were treated worse than the prols. They had the education, they did the work for the inner party, they had larger numbers than the inner party, and they were the most likely to rebel and had to be controlled. I see many similarities to society today and I think ultimately, that will be a big problem. My two cents... ;)
I also think education is one of the main problems of what seems to be the beginning of the downfall of not only the economy of the United States, but the welfare and morale of our country.
I think the primary detriment to the education problem however, is lack of parental involvement in a child's education. If a parent is unwilling or unable to become involved in their child's education, then the system cannot help a child that will be virtually unreachable.
Parent's should be willing to pull the plug on too many extra-curricular activities, keep an eye on the amount of TV a child is watching, be willing to help with homework and be willing to meet with their child's teacher whenever possible. The parent is the key to any child's future.