Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, R., laid out his blueprint for flipping school board seats during a training session he hosted and Fox News Digital spoke with a few of the school board members who attended the event.
DeSantis hosted a training session called “Freedom Blueprint” in Orlando, Florida, for school board members and potential candidates. DeSantis aims to build upon his success in the midterms by pushing for parental rights.
The governor tweeted about the event, vowing to help school board candidates in the 2024 cycle.
Seeking to flip areas such as Hillsborough counties that have pushed back against the Republican firebrand’s policies, DeSantis blasted the teachers unions’ past involvement in school board races.
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“In the past, nobody cared about these races, nobody was paying much attention to these races except the teachers unions,” DeSantis said at the podium. The event took place on December 19th.
“They would fund the races and what happens is that you have under our state constitution school board races have to be quote non-partisan, so, you’re not allowed to run under a party label. So what the unions do, is they’ll go into like a conservative county like a Sarasota or Lee or some of these places and they’ll get behind a liberal candidate and they’ll dress them up as if they’re reflecting the community’s values,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis vowed to talk to parents about education issues and elect people who “believe in what we believe.”
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“You’re not doing anything special other than just reflecting the values of your communities and for too long these school boards have not reflected the values of the communities that were elected to serve,” DeSantis said.
More than 200 people attended the training, said Hendry County District 4 school board member Stephanie Bussin, who was endorsed by DeSantis and had “ringside seats” to the Freedom Blueprint. Bussin also told Fox News Digital that the event was a “full house” that included key figures such as Betsy DeVos, former Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, Dave Rubin, and Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr.
“DeSantis did more to empower conservative school board members alongside them for public education’s consumers (students/parents/stakeholders) in this one retreat than the Florida School Boards Association ever did in the six years I was a member,” Bussin told Fox News Digital.
Corcoran and Diaz Jr. collaborated on a presentation on state education law and Moms for Liberty co-founder Tiffany Justice interviewed DeVos and moderated a school board panel.
Another school board candidate who did not get a DeSantis endorsement yet won with backing from Moms For Liberty, Pinellas County school board candidate Dawn Peters, attended the event.
“What an amazing day at the ‘Freedom Blueprint: DeSantis Education Agenda School Board Retreat.’ FL Dept. of Education spent time teaching us how to understand and implement the laws and showing the real effects of how education policies affect our children, families, and communities. Children must always be at the forefront of every policy and decision we make,” Peters told Fox News Digital.
Indian River County District 2 school board member Jackie Rosario who won a re-election bid and was endorsed by DeSantis told Fox News Digital that the “governor’s Blueprint for Education mirrors the same messages he shared during the campaign season before the November election.”
“Topics such as parents’ rights, school choice, roles and responsibilities of school board members versus superintendents were discussed among many others. I fully support his agenda and blueprint for education: it’s work I had been advocating for years,” Rosario said.
“More conservative governors should follow DeSantis’s lead and get involved in local school board elections. Power-hungry leftist teachers unions have infiltrated the government school system for decades and it’s past time for advocates for parental rights in education to fight back and win,” American Federation For Children Senior Fellow Corey DeAngelis told Fox News Digital, reacting to DeSantis’ training session event.
DeSantis’ pro-parent mantra appeared to manifest itself through school board victories after he endorsed 30 school board candidates that aligned with his agenda.
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Although school board seats are non-partisan, DeSantis embarked on a statewide “Education Agenda Tour” in advance of the Aug. 23 primary to tout his non-partisan education board endorsements. Elected officials typically did not get involved in school board elections until the recent movement of parents protesting against COVID-19 restrictions like school lockdowns and progressive curriculum.
Six more school board victories were added to the midterm elections bringing his record on school board endorsements to 24 wins out of 30 total endorsements.
The victories underscore the phenomenon of parents across the country paying closer attention to school boards by challenging progressive curricula and contesting books they deemed inappropriate.
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DeSantis describes his education agenda as consisting of keeping schools open and rejecting lockdowns, educating instead of indoctrinating, rejecting the use of critical race theory in the curriculum, and guaranteeing the right of parents to curriculum transparency. He also supports increasing teacher pay, expanding workforce development, and supporting robust civics education.