You miss out one key contribution that academe can make to wiping out the alleged escalation of illiteracy. English is the only major world language (apart from Chinese) where you often cannot work out the pronunciation from the spelling, nor the spelling from the pronunciation.
Surely the massed intellect of university linguistics and education departments could agree on a way of removing the major obstacles to efficient literacy, such as silent letters. It isn't the function of spelling to show users how the language used to be 500 years ago, but how it is now, nor is it to show how intellectual the user is by mastering oddities such as "queue".
John M. Gledhill