DeSantis-Backed Conservatives Won Big in School Board Races in Florida. Here’s What This Means for the Classroom.

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By Giselle Balido

November 17, 2022

Newly elected school board members will assist in implementing education policies that will impact what children learn in schools across the state. 

The conservative activist group Moms for Liberty, a close ally of Gov. Ron DeSantis, made donations to 51 school board candidates across the state, campaign finance records show. Of those, 28 won, while most of the school board candidates backed by Democrats lost in their races this year.

Additionally, all six school board members endorsed by DeSantis won their runoffs Tuesday, delivering the Republican governor a total of 24 wins out of 30 local education candidates he backed this year.

The newly elected school board members endorsed by DeSantis, who is thought to be the first Florida governor to endorse school board members, will assist in implementing education policies that will greatly impact what children learn in the classroom. 

RELATED: DeSantis Continues to Impose His Agenda on Florida School Boards

“The presence of a significant number of DeSantis-backed candidates likely means that communities will see more energy behind the initiatives he has made central to his campaign — curbing progressive curricula that center race, gender and sexuality,” Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, who has researched cultural issues in education, and is a history professor at The New School, in New York, told NBC News. 

Parental rights have been a key battle cry for DeSantis and conservative groups like Moms for Liberty. In fact, in March of this year DeSantis passed the “Parental Rights in Education” law, labeled as “Don’t Say Gay” by opponents, which bans teachers from leading classroom lessons on gender identity and sexual orientation for kids in kindergarten through third grade. 

A Republican Problem

But Karla Hernández-Mats, who ran for lieutenant governor with Rep. Charlie Crist against DeSantis, believes the governor is creating needless culture wars to distract from the real issues affecting Floridians, such as the affordability crisis, climate change, and rising utility costs, among other issues.

“First of all, no teacher has ever taught any kind of sexual orientation content in kindergarten or third grade, and he knows this, because the Department of Education is handled by the governor’s cabinet, Hernández-Mats told Floricua. “So, if there was a problem, it would be a Republican problem, because they are the ones that have been in power over the Department of Education.”

RELATED: DeSantis Pushes for Conservative School Board Candidates Who Align With his Political Agenda

Despite this, Moms for Liberty, a group that declares itself “dedicated to fighting for the survival of America by unifying, educating and empowering parents to defend their parental rights at all levels of government,” is now facing off against the National Education Association (NEA).

After the teachers’ union posted, “Teachers love their students and know better than anyone what they need to learn and to thrive,” Moms for Liberty immediately shot back, claiming that because mothers carry their children in the womb for nine months, they “know better than anyone what [children] need to thrive.”

Calling Teachers’ Names “Is Disgusting”

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), one of the nation’s largest teacher unions, has harshly criticized DeSantis’ influence on education in Florida.

“Calling teachers pedophiles, calling teachers other names, saying they’re trying to change kids is disgusting,” Weingarten said in September during a press conference with teachers and union leaders. “Kids want to learn, and we should be rolling up our sleeves to help them, not demagoguing and fear mongering about the people who really want to do their jobs.”


  • Giselle Balido

    Giselle is Floricua's political correspondent. She writes about the economy, environmental and social justice, and all things Latino. A published author, Giselle was born in Havana and grew up in New Jersey and Miami. She is passionate about equality, books, and cats.

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