At A Schoolyard Blog I found a similarly minded teacher and blogger. I have seen in my years that helping students understand a concept rather than go through the motions of the worksheet is much better, but that's not what the parents seem to want. What seems to be missing (and I read about this too in a blog recently) is actual learning, as can be evidenced by the emergence of professors lamenting the fact that many of their students are ill prepared academically for university.
"Covering material" is also mentioned at Schoolyard Blog and I find this fascinating. I hear many similar complaints from well intentioned teachers that they taught something or "covered it" and now the students don't know it. I have found that if I teach something in myriad means and do not overwhelm with material, there will be better chance of remembering it and knowing how to use it. Also good to employ is Bloom's Taxonomy with each topic, and not just the bottom level. Going to the synthesizing level as often as possible benefits learning. But the parents don't want that and the administration doesn't want you to spend so much time on one topic and the government doesn't allocate so much time as it writes standards.
So, thanks Schoolyard Blog; I will continue to read your work.