Moms for Liberty co-founder Tiffany Justice laid out her strategy for the “David and Goliath” struggle to win school board elections in the face of the teachers unions’ stranglehold, following another historic election cycle in which the 3-year-old organization racked up 50 wins, but fell short in many other races.
“We got 50 people elected to school board [seats last] Tuesday, which is really exciting,” Justice told “The Daily Signal Podcast” in an interview Thursday.
While some news outlets focused on the many races in which Moms for Liberty-endorsed candidates lost, Justice emphasized the wins, putting them in context.
“Moms for Liberty didn’t exist three years ago,” she noted. “For us to have now been able to elect in 2022 and 2023 365 school board members who are liberty-minded individuals standing up for parental rights, putting the focus back on the basics in American public education, stopping this woke indoctrination that we’ve been seeing—it’s very exciting.”
Justice pushed back against criticism from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, who mocked Moms for Liberty’s supposed failures.
“My answer back is those are 50 seats that we wouldn’t have won if we didn’t exist, and that Randi should hold my beer, because we’re just getting started,” she said.
The Moms for Liberty co-founder noted that 83% of the school board candidates her organization endorsed had not previously run for office.
She also mentioned the money. “The teachers unions spend a lot of money in school board races,” she said. Since 2023 was an off-year election, the races were “about local politics, local elections, and teachers unions have really run the game on these elections for a very, very long time.”
“It is a bit of a David-and-Goliath moment in American politics, but we’re really excited because we’re getting the word out,” Justice said.
She laid out her takeaways from the election, a game plan to win even more seats going forward.
“The takeaways are: Let’s teach people how to run campaigns, how to run for office, how to help their friends run for office, but also, financially, we need to be able to support these races,” the Moms for Liberty co-founder said. She mentioned her organization’s political action committee and super PAC.
“In Florida in 2022, when we were able to put just a little bit of money into the races, I think we spent about $50,000 through a political committee in Florida in 2022,” she said. “Our success rate was 80%. So, it’s really a learning moment for us in 2023, and we’re excited for 2023.”
Justice emphasized the resilience of her local Moms for Liberty leaders. She recalled one chapter leader in whose county every Moms for Liberty-endorsed candidate lost, but who decided she wasn’t going to give up.
“That’s the message of Moms for Liberty: We’re just getting started,” she said. “Of course, we’d like to win all the races, but 50 seats on a school board in a single day is nothing to turn your nose up at.”
She emphasized the importance of keeping a “joyful warrior spirit because our kids are watching us.”
“Am I going to be angry and frustrated and give up, or am I going to model perseverance and be relentless in the pursuit of defending America and our children?” she asked.
Justice also addressed Moms for Liberty’s key parental rights issues, noting that the COVID-19 pandemic gave parents the ability “to see behind the education curtain.” Parents raised concerns about falling education standards, top-down pandemic requirements, and what she called “indoctrination.”
“They came to the school districts and the school boards. They were shut down,” she recalled. “The idea that people within the community couldn’t go and have their voices heard in front of elected officials” was infuriating.
Justice raised the alarm about Marxist critical theory—which analyzes society along oppressor-oppressed lines—being “laced into every element in our children’s day.” She also lamented that reading standards have fallen drastically.
“There is no future for America with an illiterate society,” she said.
Listen to the interview, or read the lightly edited transcript below.
Tyler O’Neil: This is Tyler O’Neil, managing editor at The Daily Signal. I am honored to be joined by Tiffany Justice, who was a former school board member and now co-founder of Moms for Liberty, a movement that is really invigorating parental rights across the country. Tiffany, it’s so great to have you with us.
Tiffany Justice: Happy to join you today, Tyler. Two days off of an election right here in November 2023.
O’Neil: Yeah. I wanted to talk about that because I think there’s this narrative a lot of media outlets have run with: “Moms for Liberty candidates struggle at the ballot box in this election cycle,” and I wanted to hear how you respond to that. I’ve seen a whole bunch of Moms for Liberty candidates won. So, walk us through what actually happened, why we have this negative media spin.
Justice: Yeah, sure. Absolutely. We got 50 people elected to school board on Tuesday, which is really exciting. Moms for Liberty didn’t exist three years ago. For us to have now been able to elect in 2022 and 2023 365 school board members that are liberty-minded individuals standing up for parental rights, putting the focus back on the basics in American public education, stopping this woke indoctrination that we’ve been seeing, it’s very exciting.
Yeah, there’s been some interesting media spin. I just did an interview with someone that said that [American Federation of Teachers President] Randi Weingarten said, “This is a reputation of everything that Moms for Liberty stands for.” And my answer back is, those are 50 seats that we wouldn’t have won if we didn’t exist, and that Randi should hold my beer because we’re just getting started.
O’Neil: Yeah, no, that’s a great response. I was just wondering, we saw a lot of results that maybe a lot of conservatives were not very happy with in this cycle. Were there things, were there just many school board seats that were up that would’ve been a harder lift to win in any case? Or is this, I think focusing on the win is important, but we’re going through this period of recriminations right now, and I just wanted to get your take on what the headwinds were.
Justice: I think the most important statistic that I took out of this past election cycle was the fact that 83% of the candidates had never run for office before that we endorsed. I just want you to think about that for a second. Eighty-three percent, right? That’s an enormous amount of people running for office that have never run for office before. They’ve never campaigned, and largely the people running their campaigns have never run campaigns before.
Some things to learn for many on the ground. We need to help people to run good, solid campaigns. To know how, there often isn’t a lot of money in these races, so how you spend your money if you have some is really important and where you spend your time knocking doors, trying to reach the right voters to get them out.
That’s something that we’ve recognized that a lot of these new candidates do not have experience doing, and we are working really hard to support them through Moms for Liberty. We have a new campaign kit that’s on our website underneath “Candidates” that anyone can join as a member and download to help you to run for local office. But we’re also working with a lot of other organizations like Heritage, like the Leadership Institute to help to train people to run for office, but also to run campaigns.
The other takeaway here is money. The teachers unions spend a lot of money in school board races. This was what you might call an off-cycle election, right? There weren’t a lot of big election positions that were on the ballot, not a lot of governors or congressional candidates and things, things that might draw people out.
So, this is really about local politics, local elections, and teachers unions have really run the game on these elections for a very, very long time. It is a bit of a David and Goliath moment in American politics, but we’re really excited because we’re getting the word out.
And so the takeaways are, let’s teach people how to run campaigns, how to run for office, how to help their friends run for office, but also, financially we need to be able to support these races. And so we have a super PAC and a federal PAC. We’re looking at trying to expand the ways that we’re able to support candidates through those different options.
And what we know, Tyler, is this. In Florida in 2022, when we were able to put just a little bit of money into the races, I think we spent about $50,000 through a political committee in Florida in 2022. Our success rate was 80%. So, it’s really a learning moment for us in 2023, and we’re excited for 2024.
O’Neil: Yeah, yeah. I was going to ask, what is Moms for Liberty doing to combat that? The behemoth that these teachers unions are. I’ve constantly heard the teachers union candidate gets endorsed, gets all the money, it’s almost impossible to defeat them.
And now finally, we have organizations like Moms for Liberty that are taking the fight to the teachers unions, that are holding these people accountable, who often have a system in place that keeps them set, even when they’re not delivering good results for our kids, or in many cases, pushing ideologies and agendas down our kids’ throats that really conflict with what their parents would want them to learn and what we all thought education was about.
Justice: Yeah, you have the [National Education Association] doing the bidding of the global conglomerates. You have the UNESCO’s SDGs, 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. NEA has curriculum that aligns to the SDGs that they’re pushing into schools.
This isn’t teachers, these are teachers unions. This is doing the bidding of the federal government. Again, as I said, a lot of global interests that would like to change the way that children are educated in America. And so every little step that we’re taking is important and it counts.
Again, we’re just getting started. We’re learning and growing. We really are a grassroots organization started by two moms and encouraging other moms and dads and community members across America to get involved.
And my biggest takeaway, really, Tyler, is this. How do you know when you have power? You know you have power when the people that you’re fighting against name you as their biggest adversary. And that’s what we saw on Tuesday. That’s what we really saw yesterday.
We are in it to win it. The union knows that, and they’re going to try to do everything they can to kind of silence the voices of parents. They’ve tried with the [National School Boards Association] and the [Justice Department] and the FBI and the [Southern Poverty Law Center] and Pan America and all the things. They’re trying all the things.
And moms and dads don’t give up. Nobody is going to fight for anything like a mom or a dad is going to fight for their kids. So, when it comes to our children, there is no compromise. And that’s just the Moms for Liberty way, joyful warriors.
O’Neil: Is there a story that really captures that joyful warrior mindset? One of these 50 candidates that you help push over the line in this election, is there one that stands out? Would you share one of the stories of these moms or dads who are just so passionate for their kids in education?
Justice: Yeah. I think the most touching thing that I saw was a late-night video made in her car. Jen Turner, who’s our Polk County, Iowa, chapter chair, sent a message out to all of her people, and it was late at night. She’s sitting in her van and she just said, “Today was a disappointing day.” That they had lost the races that they were supporting in their county, but that they weren’t going to give up.
And she reminded all of them of the importance of having their voices heard, of the wonderful work they had done that past year, working with their legislators, creating better policy to safeguard girls sports and to support parental rights and reminding them that we needed to keep pushing forward. And so that’s really it.
That’s the message of Moms for Liberty. We’re just getting started. We’re going to win some races, we’re going to lose some races. Of course, we’d like to win all the races, but 50 seats on a school board in a single day is nothing to turn your nose up at. And we certainly aren’t going to.
And so now we’re going to continue our work, we’re going to continue growing the chapters. We’re going to continue giving better resources and support to members and to other people running for office. We’re going to continue trying to fund our PAC and our organization to continue to grow. And we’re going to keep a joyful warrior spirit because our kids are watching us. They’re watching how we’re doing this advocacy work.
And every day there’s a choice to be made: Am I going to be angry and frustrated and give up, or am I going to model perseverance and be relentless in the pursuit of defending America and our children?
Moms for Liberty, we know what that choice is. It’s very clear to us as parents that we need to be good role models for our children and that they’re going to inherit the country that we leave them. So, we’re going to fight like hell with a smile on our face because we know our kids are watching and it’s a privilege to fight for this country, so we’ll continue to do that.
O’Neil: Yeah, it’s such an important message.
I remember you spoke with me recently—and thank you for that—going through the horrific story you went through with your son, forcing the mask on him. Can you speak a little bit to how COVID-19 often was the moment that opened parents’ eyes, but there are all these other issues that are important that we have to keep being vigilant about, even while a lot of the COVID-19 restrictions have mostly gone away? I mean, there are some places where they’re talking about bringing them back, which I don’t understand. But yeah, the main issues that drive Moms for Liberty, if you would touch a little bit on that.
Justice: Yeah. I mean, it was never about the masks, but it was all about the masks, right? It’s about parental rights. It’s about the fact that you as a parent have the fundamental right to direct the upbringing of your children.
And you mentioned that my son struggled with the mask. I’ve talked to so many moms whose children struggled with forced quarantining and masking, and in their inability to have their voice heard. Parents got to see behind the education curtain. They got to see all of the indoctrination that was happening with their children in school.
They also got to see oftentimes that their children were not doing very well in school. That the A that they thought their child had didn’t mean as much as they thought it did, certainly didn’t mean what an A meant when they were in school.
So parents became very concerned as they saw that their children weren’t writing very well, weren’t reading very well, or the level of the curriculum or what their children were pursuing and learning about were things that they were very concerned about and that their parental rights were being violated.
And then, Tyler, when parents wanted to have their voices heard about anything, no matter what it was, and they came to the school districts and the school boards, they were shut down. The idea that people within the community couldn’t go and have their voices heard in front of elected officials.
And then there were elected officials and on the school board that I served, I watched it happen, that elected officials were willing to abdicate their authority to bureaucrats who constituents could not hold accountable for anything. We’re talking about departments of health, health or different people that would serve on committees.
School board members were all too happy to give their decision-making power away to a committee who was going to make recommendations for them. And they could just throw up their hands and say, “Oh, well, we got this recommendation. And they’re saying this is what’s in the best interest of kids.”
And I think I shared with you, the superintendent in my district wanted to create a medical committee, and he was going to have other people, doctors and some other people, making decisions about what was best for kids’ health in schools.
I had to remind him, I said, “Sir, we do not co-parent with the government.” Even in my own family with my own children, I have a pediatrician. That pediatrician makes recommendations to me, and I as a parent still am responsible and have the right to make that decision.
So shutting down the voices of the American people is never going to be the right solution. It only makes people upset. It angers them, as it should.
And Tina [Descovich] and I really started Moms for Liberty to help parents to be effective advocates so they could have their voices heard, so they could learn who held the authority for the decisions that were being made in their community, in their state, in their country, and then they could work to affect change in that decision-making process.
COVID was difficult, but it was also a blessing. There is lemonade to be made here. That is the way I have always been raised in my own family when I was growing up.
And the way that we run Moms for Liberty is to look for the opportunities. And the opportunity was there to unify a country around the very important issue of parental rights, and then to educate them on a lot of other issues that they had questions and concerns about: Why is my child being told they could be a boy or a girl or a boy and a girl, or not a boy or a girl? Maybe I joke sometimes, but still, maybe a tree that day if they feel like.
Parents want to not understand, why is that happening? Well, critical theory has been laced into every element in our children’s day, and queer theory in particular is driving this toxic ideology and turning everything that parents would know to be true and right and good on its head. That’s the whole point of queer theory.
So educating people on these issues is so incredibly important because they can be more effective advocates. And then they also feel empowered to spread the message, to teach others and to create change.
We have what I feel is like a winning combination at Moms for Liberty: unify, educate, and empower. We’re seeing that change happen every day. And again, we’re just getting started as far as our involvement in local elections and in advocacy work is concerned. And I’m excited for 2024 because we’re going to take all the things that we’re learning and we’re going to turn them into better options and better resources for parents and community members who are running for office.
O’Neil: Yeah. No. And I mean, I love the way you went through that because I think it’s so critical. We’re not just dealing with people who are top-down bureaucracy and shifting the buck away from them.
I always was told you say, “The buck stops here.” If you’re the parent, you make the call. If you are the superintendent, you are responsible. If you’re the president of the United States, you take responsibility. You don’t shift it off.
And yet we seem to have this culture of institutions where the institution can take the responsibility from you, and then you can do things that are very unpopular and say, “Oh, it wasn’t me. It was the institution making that decision for me.”
We see that in Congress. We see that in the White House with the administrative state. And of course, we saw that on steroids with COVID-19. And my daughter was only a baby at the time, and I’m glad about that because we had to force her to wear a mask when she was a 2-year-old on airplanes for one or two times maybe, and it was horrible. It was like, I can’t imagine trying to tell a 6- or 7- or 8-year-old kid who has all this energy to wear something on their face all day.
Justice: Yeah. And it was unhealthy and there was no data to support it. Masks, I mean, honestly, especially the way that kids wear them, maybe an N95 worn properly for the right period of time may mitigate some amount of transmission. But the truth is, these cloth masks that spent their nights on handlebars of bikes and then would be thrown back on the face of the child and they were wet and they would fall on the ground and the kids would eat.
And just the level of ridiculousness, even as adults, I remember being on a plane and there was someone wearing a mask, but they would eat Cheez-Its, and they would take drinks of Coke. And I was like, “Oh, no one had told me that Cheez-Its were the magical prevention for COVID-19. Just keep eating and you’re fine.”
So, this idea of feeling safe at the expense of common sense and what’s best for kids is nonsense. American parents are getting back to common sense. It’s time for all of us to start saying things that are just common sense. There are men and there are women, that is common sense. Parents have the fundamental right to direct the upbringing of their children, common sense.
It is time to start talking more about common sense in America and saying the things that we all kind of assumed everyone believed, but now we need to say them out loud. And then we need to look for the other people that are like, “Oh yeah, I believe in that. Oh, you too. Great. Let’s unify and then let’s work to fix the other areas that we’re concerned about in this country.”
And the only way that we are going to take control back of America from Marxists—which a lot of people who maybe enter into this space and are learning more about what’s happening in America, at first you say Marxist and they look for their tinfoil hat. But the truth of the matter is that we have Marxism on steroids in America, and critical theory is tearing our country apart. And you need to look no further than America’s universities to see that fruit, where we have students, I call them in murder parades, is what I call them.
Protesting against Israel and supporting the horrors and just, I think it’s waking a lot of people up, Tyler. I think a lot of people are standing up and saying, “Wow, I thought maybe I was a socialist, but I don’t stand for that.”
And I know that’s happening on college campuses with my daughter’s friends and different people talking about how they have been so concerned about what they are seeing on these campuses.
So this is a real reckoning point for America. It is a waking-up point and people are going to have to start making different decisions and understanding that what happens in your local elections matter, local politics are important.
The decisions that school board members make oftentimes are decisions that affect your life in a very direct manner, right? If your kids are eating lunch at 9:30 in the morning, it might be because of the bargaining contract. And in New York City Public Schools, parents are not allowed to go for in-person for back to school night and teacher conferences. Why is that? It’s because of the bargaining contract.
And when you have school boards that are run by unions and union-supported candidates, what you have at the bargaining table basically is the union bargaining against themselves. And you get a lot of what adults want, but not a lot of what kids need.
And that’s how we get to where we are in America right now. That’s how we have 17% of black students, only 21% of Hispanic students, less than 50% of white students reading on grade level in fourth grade with the vast majority of students being far below basic. There is no future for America with an illiterate society. I don’t want to be the person that has to drive over the bridge that a student designed who doesn’t know that two plus two equals four.
But unfortunately, when you look at 14 schools in Baltimore City, public schools with 0% of kids proficient in math and reading, what future is there for them in that?
So these are hard truths. There are things that the union and Randi Weingarten would like to hide, but no longer. Moms for Liberty isn’t scared about asking questions. We don’t own the harm here, the unions do, but we will place the harm on them.
O’Neil: I think it’s so much more than just a slogan when we say, “Get back to A, B, C and get away from CRT,” because this ideology, all the time, you’re talking about oppressors and oppressed groups, and this ideology is time you can’t be spending talking about the basics of education. Going through how you do basic math, how you spell words, how you do basic grammar, like how you write. These things that I grew up learning.
I thought we were having schools do this and it was quite a wake-up call. I mean, I’ve known for a long time about the takeover of the universities, but what happens in the universities doesn’t stay in the universities, and it goes everywhere. And you look at the teaching programs that these teachers are graduating from, they’re inculcating these ideas and not the basics.
Justice: It’s criminal, the idea that you’re relegating a third-grader to a life of struggle and crime. If kids don’t learn to read by third grade, then they can’t read to learn in fourth, fifth, and sixth. And there’s not reading remediation happening in eighth grade and ninth grade and 10th grade and 11th grade and 12th grade. And so then you have to explain to me, how do you have 14% of your eighth graders reading proficiently and then have a graduation rate of 85%? How is that possible?
And I’ve said before, if people listen to me, but I’ll say it again, school districts do two things well. They celebrate themselves and they protect themselves, and they oftentimes celebrate themselves in order to protect themselves. So, they will find ways to change metrics in order to make it look like they are doing a good job educating students, but they’re not. And the people that lose out the most are the children. And we have seen enough failure, enough of children being locked in government schools where parents can’t make better decisions for them.
Parents deserve to have correct information when they’re making decisions for their kids. In America right now, oftentimes parents aren’t being trusted and aren’t being given the right information, the correct information to make the best decision for their child. And that’s going to change.
And Moms for Liberty, if we’re the tip of the spear and they want to call us names, I mean, I’ve seen so many names. We have the best political cartoons. I think, single-handedly, Moms for Liberty is bringing back political cartoons, which is fine with me. But call us every name in the book if you want to. It’s not going to stop us. Again, we are just getting started.
O’Neil: Yeah. Well, thank you so much, Tiffany. Where can people find you? Find those important resources and help the movement?
Justice: Yeah, find the moms and dads in your area, the community members in your area that have started Moms for Liberty chapters. Go to momsforliberty.org. There’s a big map there. You click on your state and you’ll get a drop-down menu that shows you where we have chapters. We’re set up by county. If we do not have a chapter in your county, click to start one. Start finding out what it’s going to take. Learn a little bit.
You have to find 10 like-minded people. Maybe you’re not going to be the chapter chair, maybe you’ll be the secretary or the treasurer, or maybe it’s someone in your family or someone that you think might be a great chapter chair. But the question we all need to start asking ourselves as Americans is, why not me? Why not you? Aren’t you running for your office? Why aren’t you starting a chapter? How are you going to get involved to help us save America? And the time is now to do that.
O’Neil: Thank you so much, Tiffany.
Justice: Thank you very much.
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