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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Moms for Liberty to Challenge Teachers Unions Nationwide in 2024

'Focusing on state-level candidates could give Moms for Liberty an opportunity to assert its influence on some of the positions that have more control in determining curriculum...'

(Headline USA) Moms for Liberty, a parental rights group that has sought to take over school boards in multiple states, is looking to expand those efforts across the country and to other education posts in 2024 and beyond. The effort is setting up a clash with teachers unions who have had a monopoly on influence in education for decades.

The group’s co-founder, Tiffany Justice, said during its annual summit over the weekend in Philadelphia that Moms for Liberty will use its political action committee next year to engage in school board races nationwide. It also will “start endorsing at the state board level and elected superintendents.”

Her comments confirm that Moms for Liberty, which has spent its first two years attending school board meetings and protesting the indoctrination efforts around critical race theory and grooming in the classroom, is developing a larger strategy to overhaul education infrastructure across the country.

As the group has amassed widespread conservative support and donor funding, its focus on education ensures that even as voters turn their attention to the 2024 presidential race, school board elections will remain some of the most contentious political fights next year.

Moms for Liberty started with three Florida moms fighting COVID-19 restrictions in 2021. It has quickly ascended as a national player in Republican politics, helped along the way by the board’s political training and close relationships with high-profile GOP groups and lawmakers. The group’s support for school choice and the fundamental rights of parents to direct their children’s education has drawn allies such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a leading GOP presidential contender, and the conservative Heritage Foundation.

Justice said in an interview that she and her co-founder, Tina Descovich, were two moms who “had faith in American parents to take back the public education system in America” and that they “fully intend on reclaiming and reforming” that system.

Focusing on state-level candidates could give Moms for Liberty an opportunity to assert its influence on some of the positions that have more control in determining curriculum, said Jon Valant, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who has studied education policy.

A close partnership with the conservative training organization the Leadership Institute and added money from a growing donor base also could help the Moms for Liberty run more electable candidates and help them win in 2024.

Monty Floyd, vice chair of the Moms for Liberty chapter in Hernando County, Florida, knows what it’s like to have the group’s support in a political campaign. He ran for school board in 2022 and received the group’s endorsement, as well as $250 from its Florida-based PAC.

Floyd told The Associated Press at the summit that he looks forward to seeing how the group’s political influence grows and said that even more than the money, the national network of Moms for Liberty provides a “great resource” to a candidate.

“The wealth of knowledge they have and the network of support and just the advocacy tips that we’re learning from the speakers today,” he said. “They have good advice to give. So you kind of learn a lot about what you can improve in your messaging.”

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said her union will challenge Moms for Liberty’s growing influence.

She said the union would “do what we have to do” during elections to show the contrast between its endorsed candidates and Moms for Liberty candidates.

Moms for Liberty did not answer questions on which races it would focus on in 2024, besides making it clear that it would not endorse in legislative races or the presidential election.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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