The compact came apart when the kids themselves took as role models all the fun-loving, war-protesting, authority dissing "campus activists," as the papers called them. You can't have a compact that no one is willing to enforce by -- oh, scandalous word! -- discipline. Educational standards took a tumble.
Wasn't every little kiddie a potential genius best left to himself? You might have thought so, listening to the discourse of the time. The federal judiciary's embrace of busing for racial balance further disordered the relationship between parents and public schools and drove a big hunk of the middle class into private schools or home schooling.
Home schooling: There's something to which no one gave a thought 50 years ago. It happens in the 21st century that some of the nicest, most dedicated people you could ever hope to know have chosen to instruct their kids at home: unable any more to trust the public schools with getting the job done.
Yes, teachers unions are arrogant; it hurts to see teachers laid off -- that, too. And that isn't the end. The good teachers who still show up for work, compact or no compact, don't deserve the opprobrium and the turmoil in which so many are forced to operate. Lord, help 'em, they deserve better. And so -- here is the genuinely grievous part -- do the kids.