DUVAL COUNTY, FLORIDA — On Tuesday night, at a Republican Party of Florida election watch party, Governor Ron DeSantis announced that most of the school board candidates he endorsed were triumphant. Additionally, Miami-Dade County, the largest school district in the state and the nation’s fourth largest, flipped its school board to a conservative majority.
Local school board races have been a focus of the governor’s latest campaign strategy this past week as he campaigned across the state on his Education Agenda Tour.
The Florida Standard spoke to April Carney, a school board candidate from Duval County, who won her race Tuesday night:
You were endorsed recently by Governor DeSantis. How did that happen?
I was approached about six weeks before he made the endorsement. I was asked to put together some information on our current school district and provide letters of recommendation. I gathered a wealth of information and provided recommendation letters from elected officials and prominent community members, including parents and teachers. It was a pleasant surprise to be endorsed.
What are your thoughts on Governor DeSantis?
I think he’s probably the first governor in my tenure as a Florida resident where I’ve seen someone actively involved in public education and our state’s future.
Florida created a panel of medical experts during the pandemic who recommended that we should not mask children in schools. What are your thoughts on that and parental choice regarding masks?
We were one of the school districts that continued to mask children after Governor DeSantis gave a choice back to the parents. That’s part of the reason why I decided to run for the school board. Because I saw the effects firsthand with my fifth-grade daughter. She was having issues both socially and emotionally from the protocols, and she was also having a problem with the mask – it was making her sick. When you’re making decisions that aren’t backed by science, it does a great disservice to children. Parents are now finding out that their children have speech impairments and other problems from wearing masks all day at school.
When I was in school as a child, I knew very little about my teacher’s personal life. What are your thoughts on the progressive push to connect with students by giving them details of the teacher’s individual sexual orientation or views on gender, etc.?
There are plenty of ways to connect with children without being inappropriate. So, I think it’s perfectly fine to say that you attended a movie or a ballgame with your family, but I don’t understand why it needs to go any further. At the end of the day, we have our kids there to be educated on core subjects like math, reading, science, and history. I don’t believe that having intimate conversations about your personal life is something that needs to be discussed during the school day with your teacher.
Controversial topics have come up in the schools over the past few years, such as “woke” ideology, gender dysphoria, and other gender issues. What is your main focus in the district as a school board member?
I believe that we need to bring common sense back to public schools, including focusing primarily on core subjects. Bringing other ideologies into the classroom causes division between the students themselves, but it also causes a division between teachers and parents. And that relationship is very important. We are at a precipice where we are catching up from two years of kids falling behind because of everything that’s happened with the pandemic. Now, other issues are being added to the classroom that don’t need to be there. We need to focus on literacy, math, and preparing students for college.
Do you agree with term limits for school board members?
I do. In Duval County, we have an eight-year term limit. I think it provides a fresh perspective for the student population at the time. New representatives are going to be more in touch with people rather than career politicians. So I think it’s a wise thing to pass the baton to the next person.