Hi Milkman Dan,
the reason we use it as an attribute with a value is because it is the ASP.NET that sets this value dynamically (based on the current page) and it is impossible to do it differently. However, we get your point about wanting more control and flexibility in this area, so we'll log this as a feature request (specifically ability to set the template of how you want the current page to be rendered on the page).
Thank you for bringing this issue up.
the Telerik team