- Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday endorsed three more local school board candidates — Stacy Hahn and Patricia Rendon in Hillsborough County and Alexandria Suarez from Monroe County.
- The governor has now endorsed 29 candidates across the state
- Both DeSantis and gubernatorial opponent Rep. Chalie Crist have turned to school board to offer a snapshot of their educational policies
- While Crist pushes for district autonomy, DeSantis seeks the removal of “woke” teachings from academic curricula
Governor Ron DeSantis on Wednesday announced the endorsement of three local school board candidates, who he deems encompasses “pro-parent, pro-student” platforms. The new endorsements are the latest doled out by the governor, who has now extended his mark of approval to 29 candidates.
The endorsements include two candidates from Hillsborough County: Stacy Hahn and Patricia Rendon, as well as Alexandria Suarez from Monroe County. The Governor’s recent spree of endorsements marks one of the first times in recent memory that a major partisan public official has imposed their opinion on a non-partisan local race.
“I’m proud to release my full slate of pro-parent, student-first school board candidate endorsements. Our school board members are on the frontlines of defending our students and standing up for parental rights,” said DeSantis. “These 29 candidates are committed to advancing a bold education agenda in Florida. Parents can rest easy knowing that these candidates will fully support their right as parents to ensure their children reach their full potential in Florida’s K-12 education system.”
DeSantis’ likely gubernatorial primary opponent, Rep. Charlie Crist, last week publicly endorsed seven school board candidates across Florida. The move came less than 24 hours after Crist announced his education platform that includes provisions to declare a teacher shortage, invest more in teacher pay, and increase per-student spending. The initiative plays antagonist to DeSantis’ educational policies and serves as a setup for an eventual point of contention between the two.
Crist’s endorsements include Lee County board Chairwoman Debbie Jordan, Marion County board Chairman Eric Cummings, Hillsborough County board member Karen Perez, Polk County candidate Sara Jones, Indian River County candidate Cindy Gibbs, Pinellas County candidate Brian Martin, and Hillsborough candidate Damaris Allen.
The two candidates are jockeying themselves to represent opposite sides of the educational binary. While DeSantis seeks the eradication of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and gender or sexual education from early elementary curricula, Crist advocates for the reinstating of local autonomy of school districts, enabling each district to approve or deny learning plans at their discretion, which may or may not include elements of CRT.
“We have drawn a very clear line in the sand that says our school system is for educating kids, not indoctrinating them,” DeSantis said during a Mom’s for Liberty event in July. “We have drawn a clear line in the sand that says parents have a fundamental role in the education of their kids.”
Political battles over COVID-19 limits, curriculum limitations, and the rights of parent’s roles in their children’s education have centered on school boards, with DeSantis taking on such issues for his re-election campaign. The governor has taken several steps to impose his vision of education on Florida schools, including his recent signings of the Parental Rights in Education bill, the Parents’ Bill of Rights, and the ‘Stop WOKE Act.’