Now that Betsy DeVos has been confirmed as the Secretary of Education, I think it critical to highlight an open letter to her from thousands of clergy members.
The letter comes from religious leaders who are members of The Clergy Letter Project, a grass-roots organization of more than 14,400 clergy members across the United States who promote the teaching of evolution and the respect for religion. It was written soon after she was nominated and urged her to think broadly about her responsibilities in her new capacity.
The full letter can be read here but here are the highlights:
• While praising DeVos for her deeply held religious convictions, the letter reminded her that she was now in a position to affect learning of all children. Therefore, her previously stated desire to improve education as a means to “advance God’s Kingdom” is completely inappropriate. Religious diversity in America is far broader than her rather narrow perspective and the beliefs of all students, including those who do not hold religious beliefs, need to be respected.
• The letter to DeVos expressed great concern over her warm embrace of virtually all school choice programs. Members of The Clergy Letter Project noted that many charter schools funded by tax dollars have adopted materials that are overtly religious and which use materials that conflict with standard scientific knowledge, particularly, but not exclusively, in the area of evolutionary theory.
• Finally, the letter noted that DeVos will be joining an administration that has made its anti-science position abundantly clear. It urged the secretary to use her position to educate members of the administration about the value of science and, more generally, the value of critical thinking. It urged her to stress the difference between fact and opinion.
The clergy reaching out to Secretary DeVos were not doing so in a partisan or political manner. Indeed, members of The Clergy Letter Project span the political spectrum and represent a huge diversity of religions and denominations.
Their plea was for Secretary DeVos to promote policies that would enhance learning for all of our children regardless of their religious backgrounds.
Their plea was for her to promote policies that would promote education rather than indoctrination.
I hope she listens and that others join members of The Clergy Letter Project in regularly reminding her of her huge responsibility.