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DeSantis joins Moms For Liberty in banding against 'woke' ideology in schools

Woman bent down and folding shirts
Kerry Sheridan
/
WUSF Public Media
Jennifer Dunn, the sister of one of the group's founders, sells navy blue "Moms for Liberty" T-shirts and bags. She says she has two kids in Brevard County public schools.

Gov. Ron DeSantis was the keynote speaker at the three-day Moms For Liberty conference in Tampa.

Hundreds of women convened in Tampa on Friday for a conference of the conservative group Moms For Liberty.

Many got involved during the pandemic, protesting mask mandates. Now they have a new focus — seeking an end to so-called 'woke' ideology in schools.

Gov. Ron DeSantis was the keynote speaker at the Tampa Marriott Water Street hotel ballroom, and stressed the need to vote for conservatives in August school board races. He said he has endorsed around 25 candidates so far.

Moms For Liberty sign
Kerry Sheridan
/
WUSF Public Media
The three-day Moms For Liberty conference is taking place at the Tampa Marriott Water Street hotel.

"So what we are looking to do is really help candidates who are walking the walk, who have strong values who are going to be there for parents and put the students first, and shine a light on that," DeSantis said.

He also expressed support for parents who call for books to be banned from school libraries.

"Some of these libraries you'll have these elementary school middle school - and really just explicit and just not appropriate, and so parents need to be able to know that to be able to lodge objections," the governor said.

Moms for Liberty co-founder Tiffany Justice talked about politics — and defending parental rights in education.

“2022 is the year of the parent," Justice said to an applauding crowd. "And moms and dads are the true political party in America, aren’t we?”

That was a theme for the estimated 500 attendees from across the country at the three-day conference.

Jennifer Dunn, the sister of one of the group's founders, is selling navy blue "Moms for Liberty" T-shirts and bags. She says she has two kids in Brevard County public schools, and got involved in the group in 2021 while protesting mask-wearing during the pandemic.

"What is important for me is curriculum next," Dunn said. "I think that really getting in there and having access to what our kids are learning and having a say."

Ruth Swanson came from Miami, where she said she is a substitute teacher at a private school. She does not have children, but is active in speaking out against education policies that the Florida Legislature enacted during this year's session.

"Right now we are tackling things like CRT (critical race theory) and parental rights in schools and having the school boards respect the right of parents," Swanson said.

Breakout sessions focused on how to challenge schools on issues of gender ideology, and how to run for school boards.

The conference runs through Sunday.

Women gather at the conference
Kerry Sheridan
/
WUSF Public Media
An estimated 500 attendees from across the country attended the Moms For Liberty three-day conference in Tampa.

I cover health and K-12 education – two topics that have overlapped a lot since the pandemic began.