DeSantis Calls on Conservative Moms at National Summit to Fight ‘Leftist’ Agenda
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TAMPA – Governor Ron DeSantis addressed the crowd of "Moms For Liberty" members gathered in Tampa on Friday, denouncing what he called "leftist indoctrination," a "leftist agenda," and the "sexualization of children" in Florida schools. He urged the audience, consisting mostly of conservative, predominantly white attendees estimated at 500, to stand up and fight against these issues.
DeSantis, who is seeking reelection, received enthusiastic cheers and standing ovations from the attendees, who wore badges indicating their affiliation with "Moms For Liberty" chapters from as far away as Hawaii and New York.
"Moms For Liberty co-founder Tiffany Justice expressed the audience’s eagerness to vote for DeSantis for president," stating, "They cannot wait to vote for him for president." The crowd responded by standing, cheering, and waving signs supporting DeSantis.
The governor focused on Florida’s status as a "free state" and highlighted his administration’s resistance to COVID protocols recommended by federal health authorities. He emphasized the importance of parental authority in making decisions regarding school policies.
"Our school systems exist to educate children, not to indoctrinate them," DeSantis asserted. He cited his administration’s rejection of math textbooks associated with "woke" ideology and the ban on teachers introducing sexuality and gender ideology to elementary school students.
Meanwhile, Florida Democrats, who were concurrently holding their annual leadership conference in a nearby hotel, countered DeSantis’s claims by accusing him of fabricating educational achievements in Florida to gain the support of conservative parents for his political ambitions, which are rumored to include a presidential run in 2024.
Jennifer Jenkins, a Democrat and teacher who serves on the Brevard County School Board, recounted instances of harassment and threats she faced due to her pro-mask stance during the peak of the pandemic. She pointed out that Florida schools currently face a shortage of 9,000 instructors as the fall term approaches. Additionally, Florida ranks 43rd in the nation in education funding and 48th in average teacher salaries, according to the National Education Association.
Jenkins argued that these issues are not the result of masks, critical race theory, or gender concerns as conservatives claim. Instead, she attributed them to the leadership of Republicans, who have held power in Florida for the past 20 years. Jenkins argued that her victory over her Republican opponent, Tina Descovich, was due to her support for mask mandates in schools, which resonated with voters.
Democratic Party Chairman Manny Diaz criticized DeSantis and other top Republicans for fueling conspiracy theories that undermine public trust in science, the judiciary, and the media. He compared them to former President Trump, accusing them of being obsessed with power instead of focusing on the well-being of children.
Scott Hottenstein, the public education chair for the Florida Democratic Party and a former civics teacher, dismissed the conservative opposition to "critical race theory" as a baseless conspiracy theory. He affirmed that critical race theory is not being taught in Florida schools and emphasized that parents want a comprehensive and unbiased history curriculum that is free from political censorship.
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