As Moms for Liberty galvanized concerned parents across the country, a left-leaning group called Defense of Democracy sprouted up to oppose the growing parental rights movement. Now, a Nevada superintendent has become the first top school district leader to sign this new organization’s pledge to put “education professionals” ahead of parents when it comes to class materials.
Jesus Jara, superintendent for Clark County School District in Nevada, signed the pledge in late September.
“We serve all families and all kids from all walks of life,” Jara, who leads the fifth-largest school district in the country with more than 300,000 enrolled students, said upon signing the pledge.
The pledge doesn’t explicitly oppose parental rights groups, but Defense of Democracy, the organization behind it, has compared Moms for Liberty to the Ku Klux Klan. A member of the Clark County school board also has condemned Moms for Liberty as a “cancer.”
Jara didn’t respond to The Daily Signal’s multiple requests for comment on the pledge, Defense of Democracy, and Moms for Liberty.
The pledge opens with a declaration of diversity and states: “I recognize that our LGBTQ+, Black, Indigenous, and families of color [sic] face significant threats from extremist groups. I pledge to represent and protect the civil rights of all members of my constituency” [emphasis original].
The pledge emphasizes that an “excellent public education system” is the “cornerstone of a fully functioning society” and declares support for “teachers, librarians, and other educators.”
It notes that “parents should be involved in and have input regarding their own child’s education,” but insists that parental input “does not extend to other children within the school system” [emphasis original].
“By signing this pledge I acknowledge that our education professionals are best qualified to make decisions regarding materials included in their classrooms and libraries,” the pledge concludes.
Parents across the country have raised the alarm about sexually explicit books in school libraries. Although Defense of Democracy doesn’t take a position on a specific book, its prioritizing of “education professionals” over parents when it comes to educational materials suggests a stance aligned with groups such as PEN America and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Those left-leaning organizations claim books have been “banned” in schools over their racial or LGBTQ+ content, even though a Heritage Foundation report found that the books in question remain widely available in schools. (The Daily Signal is The Heritage Foundation’s news outlet.)
Karen Svoboda, president and CEO of Defense of Democracy, told The Daily Signal that her organization “does not endorse candidates.”
“Our Pledge to Protect our Public Schools is a promise that any candidate or elected official should be comfortable making, as it is simply a promise to give a voice to every constituent in their district, regardless of race, gender, religion, or political party,” Svoboda said. “We are grateful to everyone who has made this promise.”
Defense of Democracy’s “Statement of Beliefs” stipulates that although the group “does not take stands regarding specific books,” it does stand with “educators who are trained to decide which books are appropriate for their classrooms.” The group also states that “information about the human experience—including gender identity, differing spiritual beliefs, and accurate historical facts—should be part of all levels of education.”
According to the “About” page on its website, Defense of Democracy launched as a response to Moms for Liberty, which the organization brands a “hate group.”
Last month, the organization shared a meme comparing Moms for Liberty to the Ku Klux Klan.
The organization’s Maryland chapter condemned Moms for Liberty as “a group of Christo-fascists.”
Karen Svoboda, president and CEO of Defense of Democracy, cited the Southern Poverty Law Center’s decision to brand Moms for Liberty an “anti-government extremist” group.
“In June 2023, Moms for Liberty was declared an ‘anti-government extremist organization’ by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Defense of Democracy agrees with this assessment,” Svoboda said, linking to the SPLC’s website.
As I explain in my book “Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center,” the SPLC took the program it has used to bankrupt organizations associated with the Ku Klux Klan and weaponized it against conservative groups, partially to scare its donors into ponying up cash and partially to silence ideological opponents.
In 2019, amid a racial discrimination and sexual harassment scandal that led the SPLC to fire its co-founder, a former employee came forward to call the organization’s “hate” accusations a “highly profitable scam.”
Seven years earlier, in 2012, a terrorist with a gun used the “hate map” to target a Christian nonprofit in Washington, D.C. Although the SPLC condemned the attack, it kept the organization targeted by the gunman on its “hate map.”
The SPLC put parental rights groups such as Moms for Liberty and Parents Defending Education on its “hate map” in June, condemning them as part of an “anti-student inclusion movement.” This attack built on a previous article in which an SPLC analyst compared the parental rights movement to the “uptown Klans” of white southerners who supported segregation after the Supreme Court’s 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education that racial segregation of schools is unconstitutional.
Not only did Jara sign Defense of Democracy’s pledge, but Clark County school board member Linda Cavazos also demonized Moms for Liberty.
Cavazos shared an article about Moms for Liberty online, commenting: “Founded in Florida—what a surprise. They will not win here.”
“Their hateful comments about our gender diverse students and our educators will not be tolerated here,” the school board member added. “They are a cancer that we absolutely will not allow to spread in our community.”
Neither Cavazos nor the other six members of the school board responded to The Daily Signal’s request for comment by publication time.
Moms for Liberty co-founder Tiffany Justice defended her organization from these attacks and questioned the motives of Defense of Democracy.
“In the fight for the protection of parental rights there will always be those who choose to call names and point fingers,” Justice told The Daily Signal. “We will continue to stand up for the rights of parents and the protection of our children.”
She drew attention to Moms for Liberty’s own pledge advancing parental rights:
I pledge to honor the fundamental rights of parents including, but not limited to the right to direct the education, medical care, and moral upbringing of their children. I pledge to advance policies that strengthen parental involvement and decision-making, increase transparency, defend against government overreach, and secure parental rights at all levels of government.
“Our parental pledge is focused on supporting and protecting children and parents, and we will continue to encourage our elected officials to sign our pledge,” Justice added. “We will not stand down in this fight. We do not coparent with the government.”
“Why are the teachers unions and Defense of Democracy opposing parental rights?” she asked.
The Defense of Democracy pledge in full (emphasis original):
I acknowledge that my constituency is made up of individuals from all religions, cultural backgrounds, gender identities, sexual orientations, and walks of life. I recognize that our LGBTQ+, Black, Indigenous, and families of color face significant threats from extremist groups. I pledge to represent and protect the civil rights of all members of my constituency.
I acknowledge that an excellent public education system—including access to information—is the cornerstone of a fully functioning society. I pledge to support and, when necessary, advocate for teachers, librarians, and other educators within my public school system.
Parents should be involved in and have input regarding their own child’s education. However, this right does not extend to other children within the school system. By signing this pledge I acknowledge that our education professionals are best qualified to make decisions regarding materials included in their classrooms and libraries.
The complete Moms for Liberty pledge:
I pledge to honor the fundamental rights of parents including, but not limited to, the right to direct the education, medical care, and moral upbringing of their children. I pledge to advance policies that strengthen parental involvement and decision-making, increase transparency, defend against government overreach, and secure parental rights at all levels of government.
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