Then came the 20th century and the content of education began to change. Social "reformers" decided they could use the public school system as a propaganda tool to instill in the young their secular-liberal worldview. This culminated in the early 1960s with lawsuits filed by the notorious atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair. The Supreme Court outlawed prayer and Bible reading in public schools, the teaching of evolution as fact, sex education, environmentalism and now homosexuality and same-sex "marriage" followed.
What followed these subjects in many schools was a decline in the fundamentals. Students who graduated were too often functional illiterates (at least 1 million high school students annually, according to the Acton Institute). They know a lot about sex, but not enough about math, science, history and writing to get a job. The system was failing them.
Teachers Unions focused more on their members, defending underperforming teachers, rather than on children who were being denied their right to a good education, which, for the poor, was their ticket out of poverty.
The school choice movement sprung up and met with fierce resistance from the public school establishment and the politicians who benefited from their political contributions. Politicians who would never have defended the late Alabama Governor George Wallace, who barred the doors to the University of Alabama in 1963 to keep two African-American students from entering, now have no problem effectively standing in the door of failed public schools to keep minority students from leaving.
The Supreme Court's ruling, in its way, could be as significant as Brown vs. Board of Education, which desegregated American public schools. This latest case, known as Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn, is a win for students.
It's about time.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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