They have always had the option of church funded schools or home schooling. The problem with church funded schools, is...believe it or not...most churches are losing the funding because people have stopped going to church.
I went to a catholic school for 12 years and I DO think I got a better education than the public school children around here. When my parents were in high school, there were 3 catholic high schools (2 for girls, 1 for boys and it was also a seminary) plus 4 grade schools. This was in the 50's. Once I got to high school (in the 80's), we had 1 grade school, and all the high schools were merged into 1 in the late 60's. By the time I graduated they merged again and my senior year we had 6th graders in the same building. Two years later they closed ALL schools and put everyone from 1st to 12th grade in one 3 story building. Part of this is because of factories closing and people moving out of the area, but a lot of it had to do with people just not following the examples of their parents.
I think it would be great if more people who cared got a religious education, but the cost is so expensive. My senior year in high school cost more than my first year at a community college. But, my parents wanted me to have a catholic education, and I thank them for that. As for the beliefs, I took what I believed and came to my own conclusions on some things.
BTW, I just want to say I'm NOT busting on public schools or their teachers. I feel I got a better education because of the smaller classes (20 kids instead of 40). Some public schools are great...and some are disasters waiting to happen. But, that probably can be said for any private or religious school too. I'm just speaking from my own experience.