The Washington Post reported on a ‘secret’ conservative think-tank that has for years wanted to eliminate the US Department of Education and force the Christian religion into the public schools. The report uncovered by the Post and the fact that many members of the group are involved in the present Trump administration should give us supporters of secular education some pause.
A policy manifesto from an influential conservative group with ties to the Trump administration, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, urges the dismantling of the Education Department and bringing God into American classrooms.
The five-page document produced by the Council for National Policy calls for a “restoration of education in America” that would minimize the federal role, promote religious schools and home schooling and enshrine “historic Judeo-Christian principles” as a basis for instruction.
It also says states should encourage K-12 public schools to post the Ten Commandments, teach Bible classes, recognize holidays such as Easter and Christmas. promote instruction “from a Judeo-Christian perspective” and remove “secular-based sex education materials from school facilities.”
It calls for the termination of the Common Core academic standards and an end to the government collection of student data, which has generated concerns among activists on the right and the left.
The goal, it says, is a “gradual, voluntary return at all levels to free-market private schools, church schools and home schools as the normative American practice.”
Most years we wouldn’t need to worry about this report from a fringe ultra-religious conservative group but with the current Trump administration, seculars and those who support a secular education should worry.
We can join groups like the Secular Coalition for America or local groups supporting freethought and voice our concerns to our elected representatives.
We might stop major change on the federal level but we could stop any addition of religion on the state or local level.