Why the culture wars in schools are worse than ever

Conservatives who still cared about evolution — or school prayer, or sex education — increasingly exempted themselves from the public schools altogether, patronizing Christian academies or simply homeschooling their children. That meant less pressure on school boards, at least around religious questions.

By contrast, the History Wars gained steam. The 2008 election of Barack Obama — the nation’s first African American president — fueled the growth of the Tea Party, whose overwhelmingly white members feared “losing the nation they love,” as one leader in Virginia explained. Fox News host Glenn Beck launched “Founders Friday” in 2010, devoting the first show in the series to the leader of the original Tea Party: Sam Adams. Beck even outfitted his TV studio with a blackboard and old-fashioned desks, conjuring the one-room schoolhouse of yesteryear.

Out in the real schools, meanwhile, conservatives denounced ethnic studies courses as “divisive” and “un-American.” They also challenged the College Board’s revised Advanced Placement course in United States history in 2014, which reduced material about the Founding Fathers while adding new information about slavery, the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War Two, and other so-called “negative” aspects of the past.

The election of Donald Trump in 2016 completed the transition from Religion Wars back to History Wars in our schools.