So I'm probably the most recent. And Yeah I rarely had that much HW. Maybe 2 hours tops for anything(rarely). I graduated with a 3.111gpa. I did slack, however I would say study 3 hours and you could get a 4.0 easly. With High School especially, you have teachers that really don't just give you straight up homework. It's more along the lines of, here's the assignment for class today, if you don't finish it's homework. So if you just do everything in class, you really didn't have to worry about it at home. I do agree with you on extensions for the buildings. It gets annoying when they add this or that without just doing everything at once.
Junior year was probably the easiest part of school I ever had. I almost never studied and I graduated with a 4.0gpa. Had all the honor roll and what not. However, I saw Junior year as a big waste of time, it followed more along the lines of just prepping you for your freshman year. It really showed no decent purpose.
Concerning teacher methods and such, they do a good job. But like I said get the work done in class and everything is fine. Drop out rates are not just the teachers faults. We have so many unions up here offering quick and easy pay that many just take up that route. I had tramendous amount of classmates telling me they left school because a union job pays them so good already. Plus, it's not like the state entirely forces the kids to go back to school or anything. Parents signing off on emancipation are ones to blame as well. They are the primary thing to making sure a student succeeds and stays in school.