Florida parents, education activists and groups are celebrating big wins across the state. Five school boards in Clay, Miami Dade, Sarasota and Martin, as well as my home county of Duval are now “majority Republican.” 1776 Project PAC tweeted, “Miami Dade is now the LARGEST county in America with a conservative school board majority.”
While it's exciting to see that school boards are changing, we need to be very careful in describing some of these school boards as “majority Republican” or “conservative school-board majority” For example, in Duval County, it has been reported that we now have a “Republican majority school board”. However, only one seat was flipped conservative. April Carney won District Two unseating incumbent Elizabeth Andersen. The only known conservative, an incumbent, Charlotte Joyce, won in District Six.
With a seven-member school board, there’s only one member (Joyce) who voted consistently conservative and on the side of parental rights. The newly elected April Carney is expected to join Joyce and continue to vote for parental rights and conservative values. Although we are truly grateful for this win, how can we say it has flipped conservative?
When mask mandates were being voted on by the Duval County School Board, two conservatives, (Joyce and Hershey) voted against mask mandates for children. Only Joyce, voted in support of following Governor Ron DeSantis’s Parental Rights in Education law, often incorrectly referred to by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Joyce stood alone in this vote in order to address the fact that the board was not following the new law and continuing with their current policies that left parents without a say. Duval County School Board has said they are making changes to the guide, but those changes have not been finalized yet.
Amid the oncoming recession and rising inflation back in March of 2022, Joyce was also the only school board member to vote against raising taxes.
Compare this to the other Duval School Board Members with an “R” next to their name who continue to vote in support of a woke agenda, despite claiming to be conservatives on paper.
By saying that we have flipped these school boards conservative, we are ensuring a false sense of security that parents and parental rights groups have won this battle here in Duval and that we can move on to the next issue. I urge parents to remain vigilant and continue to show up to school board meetings, demand transparency. Carney and Joyce will still be outnumbered when it comes to the left-leaning school board that still exists in Duval County.
So long as we are sending our children to government schools, and so long as our children are away for eight hours a day, five days a week, parents can never give blind trust to these institutions ever again. The past two years have taught us, as parents, what was really going on when it comes to our kids’ education.
We must keep up the same energy and momentum until we can be sure that our school boards are indeed conservative in action, not just words. Even then, we can never let what happened to parents in 2020 happen again.
Quisha King is a Duval County parent and Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs for Building Education for Students Together (BEST), a project of FreedomWorks.