An open letter to all board of education members and associations
by Kara Floyd, chairwoman of Moms for Liberty-Hernando County, on behalf of the organization
A letter from the National School Boards Associations (NSBA) dated Sept. 29, 2021 and sent to President Biden was disheartening. As you are aware by now, the letter contained language that likened participation in local board of education meetings to domestic terrorism. This is just one aspect of the letter that we as parents and community members found disturbing.
This letter slanders the good name of our communities, and it demands a reaction from you to right this wrong. One of the main concerns of parents and community members is the lack of local control and oversight of public education. Many of us, to your astonishment, had no idea that well-organized and well-funded organizations such as the NSBA as well as the Superintendents Council existed, let alone guided policy and legislation at the local, state and national level.
Frankly, one of the main reasons attendance to local school board meetings has risen is to express concern in how little input parents and taxpayers have in such matters. To have this letter stand as representation on how you, as our local boards, feel toward us as citizens is disheartening and we are asking that you offer your own statement denouncing the tone of this letter and ask the Florida School Board Association (FSBA) to withdraw from the NSBA. The only way a democratic government works is for elected officials and constituents to work together. The statements in the letter dated Sept. 30 are meant to intimidate and bully the very constituents you were elected to serve.
The leadership of NSBA was not elected by our communities. We never agreed to let them lead our school policies nor affect legislation for public education. The fact that Viola Garcia, president of the NSBA, and Chip Slaven, interim director and CEO, signed their name to this letter to the President of our country elevates the frustration and difficulties in finding local resolution. It is not enough to simply not pay dues to the NSBA. The FSBA needs to withdraw from the NSBA.
The letter seems to suggest that we are not educated or qualified enough to understand the complexities of educating our own children. The extreme and long-term policies of the well-funded COVID-19 restrictions has allowed parents to see how little input we have in our own children’s education. These policies shined light onto ideologies that are harming our communities and mental health of our children.
At the very least, we would like to see each local school board start each upcoming meeting denouncing this letter and let your communities know you are not afraid to have civil discourse with your constituents. This letter has hindered governance at the local level and it needs to be addressed.
We are not domestic terrorists. We are not criminals. We are not violent. We are parents. We love our children and will continue to advocate for them. As much as any elected school board member, superintendent, principal, teacher or other school staff cares about our kids, it will never measure up to our own love and devotion to our children. While we do appreciate each of these positions and the people who fill them, no one is more qualified to influence our own children’s education than we as parents are. We ask you to acknowledge that.
We ask for no further discussions on limits to public comment during our school board meetings. We further ask that you answer emails and phone calls when parents and constituents have questions and concerns about policies and curricula that affect our children. Whatever the answer to the challenges in our current environment, additional limits on parent input cannot be part of it. Further, requesting and agreeing to federal law enforcement to assist in restraining participation in these local meetings is an abomination and should not be supported by you, our locally elected officials. We, your local community, await your response to this public statement.
We truly hope your response will represent your willingness to continue to listen and work with us, your constituents and parents of students you advocate for.