Powerful conservative group tied to DeVos wants Education Dept. abolished

You may not have ever heard of the Council for National Policy, but it would be a mistake to underestimate the secretive group’s potential influence over the new administration. The CNP is made up of hundreds of powerful Christian conservatives, including former lawmakers, businesspeople, and think tank leaders, and every four years GOP presidential candidates depend on their help to get elected. While it doesn’t consider itself a lobbying group, it meets thrice yearly at undisclosed locations to strategize about conservative policy goals, and there can be no doubt it seeks to see this strategy implemented by the candidates who court its favor.

The objectives of one of the group’s latest policy manifestos include abolishing the Department of Education, promoting religious private schools and homeschooling, and encourage “the Judeo-Christian perspective” as the basis of all curriculum, according to The Washington Post.

Destroying the line between church and state in public education has long been a goal of the conservative movement, but the CNP’s specific ties to the current administration are particular cause for concern. Steve Bannon was listed on the group’s 2014 membership roster. Kellyanne Conway served on its executive committee. Most notably, the mother of Betsy DeVos, the newly confirmed Secretary of Education, is named on the council’s board of governors. DeVos’ father served as its president twice, and she and her husband have donated to the council through their family foundation.

The five-page manifesto, titled “Education Reform Report,” was briefly posted on the council’s website, but taken down after the Post reported on it. It’s objectives include:

  • Demoting the department of education to a presidential “Advisory Council on Public Education Reform,” where new employees “from assistant secretaries to the mailroom” should “subscribe to the educational worldview of the Trump administration.”
  • Inform K-12 public schools to post the Ten Commandments, teach Bible classes, and recognize Christian holidays.
  • Remove “secular-based sex education materials from school facilities.”

Its eventual goal would be a “gradual, voluntary return at all levels to free-market private schools, church schools and home schools as the normative American practice.”

Asked about the policy report, E. Ray Moore Jr., a member of the council’s education committee, told the Post “the system can’t be fixed,” adding “You don’t hear Republicans and free-market people talking about fixing Obamacare. They talk about repeal and replace. We think the same argument should apply to education.”

[Washington Post | Photo: Getty]