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Virginia education wars emerge in Florida governor race

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Virginia education wars emerge in Florida governor race

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The group will be an “organizing force in our campaign in our mission to protect education,” Crist, a former Republican governor of Florida, said in announcing the approach.

Crist’s decision is a clear attempt to boost his chances following the big Virginia upset in November, where Republican Glenn Youngkin partially defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe by exploiting parental anger with local school boards over issues such as mask mandates and critical race theory. President Joe Biden won Virginia by 10 points just a year earlier.

State Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., a Miami-area Republican, says there’s no doubt education will play a key role midterm in 2022 and Republicans have a head start .

“School choice and parents’ right to have a say in their children’s education has already proven to be a major issue in Virginia’s elections. In 2022, this will be a defining factor for voters in Florida,” Diaz said. “Although candidates clearly recognize it, you cannot artificially create parent moves.”

Youngkin’s embrace of education issues is widely credited with helping him win in Virginia, a southern state that had turned blue in recent years. He organized a series of “parent rallies” across Virginia and said his focus on the issue was designed to be replicated by Republicans across the country.

Now, with 36 governorships on the ballot this year, that Virginia playbook is being put into practice by Republicans — and Democrats like Crist will have to be on the offensive.

Education has become one of the most burning political issues of the Covid era. Parents clashed over how their children are taught, where they are taught and what they are taught, and fought against issues such as critical race theory and book bans. Governor Ron DeSantis has also made education one of his top priorities and regularly blasts “revival” in schools while trying to fight school board control of education.

The political takeaways from Youngkin’s high-profile victory in Virginia have quickly seeped into Florida as the state’s GOP-dominated legislature considers education bills and DeSantis prepares for his run for president. re-election in November.

Florida Republicans, led by DeSantis, have amplified education issues mid-term, focusing on proposals they say would ban the teaching of critical race theory in public schools and granting more attention to often unnoticed school board races in an attempt to tap into the same kind of parental anger that helped propel Younkin to victory.

“Governor DeSantis pushed for schools to stay open in 2020 and today it is recognized that was the right thing to do,” Florida Republican Party executive director Helen Aguirre Ferré said in a statement. communicated. “Those who defend parents’ rights and individual freedoms will win in 2022.”

Even before Youngkin’s upset victory, DeSantis prioritized parental choice at schools.

Over the summer and fall, Florida’s governor battled with local school boards and the Biden administration as he sought to ban mask mandates in schools and withhold funding for the state of the districts which had disobeyed his edict.

“Democrats are learning from past mistakes,” said Joshua Karp, a Crist spokesperson. “Parents have been through so much over the past two years as the pandemic has upended public education and created endless political culture wars like in Virginia.”

“We just have to communicate with the parents who have been through so much now,” he added. “Last minute issues like the ones we saw in rural Virginia took us by surprise, but that won’t be the case anymore.”

Crist, a former Republican governor who is now a Democratic congressman from St. Petersburg, is the first Democratic candidate for Florida governor to start a group focused specifically on parents. The estate also includes state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and Miami State Senator Annette Taddeo.

The trio largely agree on the political front, each slamming Republicans’ emphasis on critical race theory as a made-up issue that isn’t actually taught in public schools, and backing things like as the ability of school districts to enforce mask-wearing in classrooms. amid the ongoing Covid pandemic.

Crist’s leading group is Jabari Hosey, president of Families for Safe Schools in Brevard County, which has received outsized attention in some of the state’s most prominent education fights.

“In Brevard, a small group of rowdy individuals, our governor, and some school board members in our district decided the masks weren’t working,” Hosey said last week.

The latest front in Florida’s politically tinged education battles unfolded in the Florida Senate last week when a key education panel advanced along party lines the “Stop Woke Act,” championed by DeSantis, who, according to proponents, will suppress the teaching of critical race theory.

Critical Race Theory is an analytical framework originally developed by jurists examining how race and racism became entrenched in American law and institutions. Opponents of the bill say it is not taught in K-12 schools in Florida, while supporters say the bill is needed to ensure it never will be.

The legislation does not contain a key feature DeSantis seeks that would allow parents to sue their local schools for teaching lessons based on critical race theory, but the bill has gained traction with Republican lawmakers as lawmakers wrap up the second week of the state’s legislative session.

“Our students should, when they graduate, understand our history – the good and the bad,” Diaz told reporters last week. “But at the same time, I think it’s important that we don’t impose a biased view of one or the other point of view on what has happened in the history of our country.”

Virginia education wars emerge in Florida governor race

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