Two days ago, the Washington Post ran an article warning of the dangers of theocratic incursions into American public education, “Influential conservative group: Trump, DeVos should dismantle Education Department and bring God into classrooms.” Well, we don’t want that, do we? It certainly violates the First Amendment, and even a staunch originalist, like Scalia was and Gorsuch will be, would be hard pressed to say that the First Amendment allows dragging God into the classrooms.
The Post‘s fears come from a document (removed online, but archived here) produced by The Council for National Policy, a secretive conservative group that had Steve Bannon as a member and Kellyanne Conway on its executive committee. The report is explicitly based on religion:
Here are some of its goals, which include posting the Ten Commandments, teaching Bible classes, and removing “secular sex education materials” from schools:
The document doesn’t explicitly mention evolution, but you know what would happen were these goals implemented.
There’s more religious palaver about Jesus at the end of the document, but you get the idea. This is to education as the infamous Wedge Document was to science: an embarrassing, religiously motivated plan of action that was removed from the Internet because it clearly conflicted with secular public education.
The Post wrings its hands over this a lot, but DeVos, not a known member of the Council for National Policy, has stated that she doesn’t favor elimination of the Department of Education, and in her confirmation said that she would “implement the laws as intended by Congress. That includes the provisions about the prohibition against religious instruction in schools.” Of course, she might be lying, as her history is in favor of religiously based charter schools. And although DeVos’s husband has expressed support for teaching creationism, DeVos herself has kept her nose clean on that issue. So we don’t know, and I think the Post is crying a bit of “wolf” on this one. Still, it’s worthwhile to see the aims of this group, and learn who belonged to it—just as it was worthwhile knowing about the Wedge Document.
Some have joked that the new logo for the Department of Education would be the one below, but that’s a bit premature: