What's changed is that since the advent of the Internet, the bourgeois know it too, and they're going about the business of making things change to the way they want them. This case is a good example of that.
But there is local government, and these parents had their chance to participate in it and lost. The question is whether they should be able to enlist courts in the project of changing the policy produced by that democratic process. Can you say that they should without repudiating Grutter?Right as usual, Professor Althouse.
As long as I can remember, a minority of individuals has used the Federal courts to force communities to do things the way the minority wants them done, at first for good sound reasons of civil rights but later for less sound reasons of social engineering. This emphasized the rights of some individuals over others, which is rarely a good thing except in extreme circumstances. I recall a situation down in Mississippi some years back that 60 Minutes wanted us to get all hot and bothered about. Seems there was a single Jewish mom who moved to a small town in Mississippi and was HORRIFIED that in the local schools (populated 99.99% by white Southern Baptists) it was the practice to PRAY in class. OMGWTF!!! Call in the ACLU! Children are being repressed!!! The locals seemed bewildered as to what all the fuss was about, and the woman in question even admitted that nobody forced her kids to participate or shunned them or made them wear badges on their shirts so everyone would know they were Joooos. Still, she thought it was horribly discriminating and stigmatizing that all the Baptist kids prayed in school. My reaction was basically, "So WTF are you still living there for if it bugs you so much?"
Writ large, on a national scale, this is the way things are working out. People prefer their own kind, and these days their kind has less to do with ethnic identity than cultural, and that sort of identity does cross ethnic and religious boundaries, especially if those boundaries don't automatically exclude outsiders. A big reason we're sliding back into a tribal culture setup is that the dominant media culture that set the cultural and political agenda for most of the 20th century is disintegrating, thanks to the Internet and related technologies. It's easier to reach other people like you, it's easier to find work that will let you live with those people or within reasonable commuting distance, and (most important to parents) it's easier to shut out the cultural influences you don't want.
Don't like what the public schools are teaching? Home-school your kids, or enroll them in a charter school that teaches the values you want your children to have. Don't like what the networks are showing? Pop in a DVD and sit down with the kids to watch something you want them to watch. Want to see a contemporary movie without the gratuitous sex/vile lanaguage? Either buy a sanitized copy from one of the companies selling them or get the software and do it yourself. Worried about what the kids might see on the internet? You can get screening software (not perfect, but better than nothing) or get your service from an ISP that does the screening for you. Or, you could be completely hardcore about it and not be online at all.
There's always going to be things out there in the marketplace of ideas that are offensive and insulting to some folks. Now, though, with hundreds of channels on the cable or satellite and millions of web sites out there, it's a lot easier to look away. Which just feeds the desperation of the people in New York and Hollywood who don't understand why fewer and fewer people care what they have to say any more. Sure, people follow what Paris Hilton and Pamela Anderson are doing, but I suspect that most people treat them in the same way that our grandparents regarded the Dog-faced Boy and the Bearded Lady: just a couple more freaks in the sideshow, not someone whose opinion you really cared about.
Sure, I'm an optimist. The country's full of them, and more of them are coming all the time. That's why I'm not too worried about America. We tend to screw things up, sure, but eventually we get it right. That's just the way we are.