By Beth Brelje
Moms for Liberty, a non-profit education advocacy group, still in its infancy, encourages parental engagement in a growing number of school board meetings across the country to demand a voice in their children’s education, and push back on curricula and policies that they oppose.
Two Florida moms, Tina Descovich of Bevard County and Tiffany Justice of Indian River County, started Moms for Liberty in January 2021. Just 11 months later, the movement has 160 chapters and 70,000 members in 33 states.
“Parents have been involved in the Parent Teacher Association, supporting their classrooms, and building playgrounds. PTA serves a great role. But it doesn’t address policy, and parents should have a role in that,” Descovich told The Epoch Times in a phone interview. “Parents have not been engaged at the policy making level.”
She believes parents have become more engaged because they got a glimpse inside the classroom when COVID-19 mitigation efforts closed schools and moved classes online and kept students at home.
“Parents saw sub-par curriculum and indoctrination,” Descovich said.
How It Started
There was no specific event that prompted the creation of Moms for Liberty. It was more of a response to an uneasy climate. Descovich and Justice were school board members with terms ending in 2020 and they were members of the Florida coalition of school board members, where they met with other school board members from districts around the state with similar stories. Parents with concerns about masking or schools being closed were not being heard.
“Some were being mocked by the boards,” Descovich said. Through the coalition, she heard about a parent of a deaf child explaining that masks prevent her child from lip reading, who got no satisfaction and left a school board meeting crying.
“We’ve seen other groups organize, like Moms Deserve Action. They would come into board meetings with matching shirts and a message, and I’d and watch other school board members just cave on an issue.”
When parents show up in numbers and have a consistent message, boards are more likely to represent them.
“The issue is the balance of power in education,” Descovich said, explaining that education is controlled by three entities: the teachers’ union; school board members, many of whom are elected through the teachers’ union; and curriculum providers including textbook and digital curriculum writers.
“Parents have allowed this to happen,” Descovich said. “We sat on school boards and watched as no parents came in to go over new textbooks. Nobody was paying attention. Families and community members need to be involved.”
It’s easy to think everything is fine if you live in a nice school district and your child is getting A’s, she said.
“We’ve put a lot of trust in the school system and haven’t realized who was making all the decisions. The teachers’ unions have a full seat at the negotiations table with the board. And it’s more than salary negotiations. It’s what time school starts, days off, and early release days to give teachers more planning time. No one is representing kids and families.”
Chapters Across America
Originally conceived as a Florida-only organization, within the first month people from several states saw posts on social media about Moms for Liberty and asked if they could start a chapter. It’s grown in the same fashion since then.
Moms for Liberty doesn’t drive issues for chapters. They teach local chapters how to read school board agendas and budgets and ask the chapters to advocate for the issues they care about.
But Descovich said they have noticed some consistencies across the country; the same issues keep coming up. At first, parents were interested in getting schools open and they wanted to weigh in on forced masking, COVID-19 vaccines, and vaccines being offered on the school campuses. And there have been many examples of critical race theory and other controversial curricula.
Moms for Liberty has heard about a Florida school that hired a third-party contractor to teach children about race. They held an assembly and divided the students in the room by race.
There was a South Carolina school that asked white students to examine their white privilege, male privilege, and taught that anyone who is white is an oppressor.
There was an Ohio school that gave high school students a writing prompt book that included instructions to “Write a sex story you would never share with your mom. Then rewrite it as you would tell your mom.” And another instructs the students to write about their favorite part of the male body.
There was a Florida school that allowed children to declare they were transgendered in school and be treated as a different gender, but they would not inform parents of the student’s request, potentially allowing the student to live a double life at home and school.
There was a Tennessee school that had emotionally wrenching and graphic books for fourth graders describing the miscarriage of a baby, and for second grade, a book that depicted the suffering of migrant children, while placing blame on white children, as well as other books parents said were not age-appropriate.
And lately, some boards around the United States have intimidated and curtailed the speech of parents who wished to make public statements at board meetings, Descovich said.
“The other side says we don’t want sex and race mentioned in schools—that we want to whitewash history. But that’s not true,” Descovich said. “We want to teach accurate, true history that is age-appropriate and isn’t racist. In other words, it doesn’t divide children at such a young age by race and doesn’t place blame on children of today for actions of the past.”
Moms for Liberty aims to have over 3,000 chapters, one in each U.S. county, and a Moms for Liberty member at every school board meeting in the country from now until the end of time, that is 13,000 school districts.
“You are not alone in your concerns for your child’s education and it’s important that you get involved and speak up for your child,” Descovich said. “Because if you don’t, someone else will.”