Freedom Writer - February 1995
he National Association of Christian Educators (NACE) was founded
in 1983 as a 501(c)(3), non-profit, tax-exempt organization. Citizens
for Excellence in Education (CEE) is a division of NACE. The group
claims 1,668 chapters, 878 church-based Public School Awareness Committees,
and about 250,000 members. NACE/CEE has chapters in almost every state,
with California boasting the most chapters.
The annual budget is $610,000 (a $90,000 decrease from last year).
Most of the group's income comes from individual donors; however,
Calvary Chapel, in Costa Mesa, CA, contributes about $50,000 annually.
In the past, NACE/CEE has received financial support from the Coors
beer family through the Coors Foundation.
Dr. Robert L. Simonds, 70, is the founder and president. A former
fundamentalist minister, Simonds taught math at a community college
for almost 20 years. His use of the title "Dr." represents a Bible-school
degree in theology. Simonds was a member of President Reagan's Taskforce
to Implement the National Commission on Excellence in Education Report,
'A Nation at Risk." His wife, Jacki, and daughter, Kathi Hudson, also
work for NACE/CEE.
The board of directors includes Bob Simonds, president, Jacqueline
Simonds, secretary/treasurer, and Russell Wilson, Donna Ross, and
Dan Collins, all of Orange County, California.
Dr. Arnold Burron of the University of Northern Colorado is a close
associate. Burron serves as director of a new CEE entity called the
National Center for Reconcilation and Reform, the purpose of which
is "to assure our CEE entry into all school districts."
Simonds, and members of the NACE/CEE, believe they are following "the
Lord's plans to bring public education back under the control of the
Christian community." While they clearly want to control the public
schools, their agenda goes even further.
Simonds was a member of the National Coordinating Council (NCC), the
political arm of the Coalition on Revival, and chaired its education
committee. In 1990, at the time of Simonds' involvement, the NCC published
its 20-year plan to Christianize America. One of the written goals
was to "work towards replacing all local public schools with private
schools by 2000 A.D." Today, Simonds says that he does not want to
abolish public schools, but to reform them.
The NACE/CEE advocates home schooling as an alternative to public
schools, as well as government vouchers to subsidize tuition at private
The main priority is to elect conservative Christians to school boards.
Until recently, disruption of the public schools by attacking curricula
and textbooks has been a high priority. CEE is currently experimenting
with a new approach.
The National Center for Reconciliation and Reform is an outward attempt
by NACE/CEE to "move parents from warfare to equal partners." Simonds
writes, "Peace is always preferable to war, if sincere cooperation
is enjoined. However, peace with compromise of our ethics, beliefs,
or agendas is not worthwhile. We will never agree to any common ground
While Simonds has adopted a new approach toward school officials,
his shift seems disingenuous. In a recent confidential letter to NACE/CEE's
national board members, Simonds clearly stated his position: "Should
this effort fail, we [Christians] have lost nothing. We can and WILL
continue to take back control of our local school boards and eventually
the entire system. We will fight to the end to stop any atheism, values
clarification psychology, hypnotism, necromancy, immorality, homosexuality,
or denial of students' or parents' free speech and free exercise of
our faith in our schools.
"When we get our Christian agenda operating inside the schools, we
can control all those things much easier, because our agenda leaves
NO time for those kind of things.
"I believe they are realizing they really have little or NO choice
but to cooperate. So far, the Lord's leading has been working beautifully."
NACE/CEE reaches into communities through its numerous chapters and
Public School Awareness (PSA) groups. PSAs are established in fundamentalist
and Pentecostal churches, while chapters are stand-alone, and affiliated
with the national group. Some chapters do not carry the CEE name and
thus are not so easily identified. In addition, CEE estimates that
200 other non-affiliated organizations use their material.
The national office publishes numerous concocted and inflammatory
materials alerting Christian parents about the latest Satanic and
humanistic plots to subvert their children. Local chapters and PSAs
use this material to engage school boards and other parents.
Since 1989, the NACE/CEE claims it has helped elect over 12,625 conservative
Christians to school boards. In 1989, its first year of trying to
elect school board members, it elected 250; in 1990, 454; in 1991,
1,157; in 1992, 3,611; in 1993, 7,153.
In 1994, Simonds told _The_Freedom_Writer_, "We lost two or three
big ones, but early indications are we had our biggest landslide ever."
Simonds claims that there are now 2,050 schools with a conservative
Christian majority. He refuses to name them, saying, "We are protecting
all our chapters' identity and successes from media information, to
prevent undue attack and persecution."
The Vista, CA school board was one of CEE's 1994 losses. In 1992,
with assistance from the CEE, the Christian Right took over the Vista
School Board in San Diego County. Following their victory, board meetings
began with prayer, and the board introduced the teaching of Biblical
creationism in the district's schools.
NACE/CEE has been effective in banning a wide range of books from
schools, including _Little_Red_Riding_Hood_, and the Judy Blume novel
_Deenie_. NACE/CEE opposes the use of the Impressions reading series,
and outcome-based education. Their opposition has wreaked havoc in
hundreds of schools. NACE/CEE's credibility is often undermined by
crackpot theories and ridiculous hyperbole. Simonds once described
his opponents as originating "from the very headquarters of evil."
After several years of rapid growth, NACE/CEE is in a period of decline.
This seems largely due to member disatisfaction over Simonds' apparent
willingness to "bury the hatchet" with some of his detractors. He
has been working closely with Dr. Bill Spady, the "father of outcome-based
education" -- opposition to which has been the rallying cry for many
Religious Right groups.
However, CEE will continue to elect conservative Christians to school
boards. Simonds believes that its phenomenal success in school board
races in the past three years is due to the fact that its candidates
haven't pushed "Christian causes." Advocating a Christian/moral agenda
invites immediate opposition in local school board races. So, instead,
Simonds suggests that Christian candidates "be careful in how you
state your position."
Simonds urges his members to "Go all out on all elections. Nothing
else will do. Engage all the churches -- inform them -- register them
-- establish special prayer support groups. You WILL win!"
In its Parent Action Guide, the NACE/CEE says that "only about 5-10%
of your community votes for school board members. That means that
a 1-3% swing in the vote will have major impact. Generally, 3% represents
only a few churches." Kathi Hudson emphasizes persistence in trying
to take over a school board, saying that it usually "takes a couple
of years to control a school board."
Like most organizations in the Christian Right, the NACE/CEE employs
stealth tactics and subterfuge to further its agenda. The name Citizens
for Excellence in Education was adopted for local use because it sounds
like "a `friendly' name to the school board."
Regarding the separation between church and state, the NACE/CEE applies
whatever logic fits the occasion. In _How_to_Elect_Christians_to_Public_
Office_, Simonds says, "The separation between church and state is
another 'myth' the ACLU, NEA, and NOW have sold the public." However,
the same book says, "Any persuasion of humanism that promotes a religious
or irreligious belief is in violation of the constitutional separation
of church and state."
Bob Simonds sees any criticism of the Religious Right's agenda as
"specifically meant to PERSECUTE Christians" (emphasis his). He adds,
"It now appears that Christians in America are beginning to share
the same treatment Jews received in Nazi Germany."
NACE/CEE's newsletter, _Education_Newsline_, is published monthly
but may be cut back to a quarterly publication. Simonds also issues
frequent "President's Reports." Simonds' book, _How_to_Elect_Christians_
to_Public_Office_, is available for $3.00 plus $0.75 postage. Chapters
use _How_to_Help_Your_School_Be_a_Winner_, the CEE chapter manual.
A complete list of publications is sent to anyone on the mailing list.
"Crusader Vows to Put God Back Into Schools Using Local Elections"
by Sonia L. Nazario, _The_Wall_Street_Journal_, July 15, 1992.
"Christian Reich?" by Frederick Clarkson, _Mother_Jones_, November/December
"Educational Odyssey: How a North Carolina Community Took on the Religious
Right -- And Won!" and "Outcome-Based Education: The Religious Right's
Latest Bogeyman" by Rob Boston, _Church_&_State_, May 1993._
_Sidebar: [ref002]Simonds' 'exceptionally successful platform'_
PO Box 3200
Costa Mesa CA 92628
(714) 546-5391 tel
(714) 546-5938 tel
(714) 546-6323 fax
[ref003][ref004] Return to table of contents
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