New Hanover organization wants to restore ‘parents’ rights’ to school

A local woman has launched a grassroots charter in New Hanover County to bring “parental rights” back to schools.

Natosha Tew founded the New Hanover County chapter of Moms for Liberty, which held its first meeting June 28.

Tew, the mother of a New Hanover County Schools alumnus, said she hopes to speak on behalf of parents who feel they have no voice to defend their children against a school system that has ” far exceeded their role and purpose”.

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“I was really hoping that we would be able to make some positive changes over the past year with the local school board, and it just didn’t work out the way we hoped,” Tew said. “So, I took a step back, re-evaluated, and decided to start this New Hanover County Moms for Liberty.”

Moms for Liberty is a national, nonprofit “welfare group” as defined by the IRS, which may advocate for causes. It started in January 2021 in Florida and is considered a conservative parent advocacy group.

They quickly gained traction in the Sunshine State, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis last spring inviting a member to attend the signing of a bill that allowed parents more say over educational materials. public schools.

The group now says it has 201 chapters in 37 states, totaling 90,000 members.

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In North Carolina, there are 12 chapters, including those in Mecklenburg and Wake counties. Tew’s efforts are the first in the eastern part of the state.

According to its website, Moms for Liberty “welcomes anyone interested in advocating for parental rights at all levels of government.”

Its main goal is to fight “for America’s survival” by empowering parents to stand up to local governments like school boards and defend their rights to make decisions in the lives of their children.

For Tew, seeing Moms for Liberty’s success in other areas motivated her to reach out to the organization after months of speaking at school board meetings. At times, she was escorted from the Board of Education Center by law enforcement for being so vocal.

Across America amid the COVID-19 pandemic, school board meetings have become stages for the nation’s culture wars. The same goes for New Hanover County, where liberal and conservative parents regularly clash passionately over a host of educational issues ranging from social studies curricula to library book titles to LGBT issues. .

As for Tew, she eventually pulled her daughter from New Hanover County schools to homeschool her after saying she was targeted and bullied for not wearing a mask at school.

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“I liked that they were a grassroots organization,” Tew said of Moms for Liberty. “I like the principles they stand on and wanted to be part of the fight to defend parental rights.”

Although started by mothers in school districts outside of Orlando, Florida, the organization is open to everyone — grandparents, dads, aunts, uncles and friends, according to its website.

Their goals are to hold leaders accountable, oppose government excesses, and promote freedom, among others. The group has targeted mask mandates and addressed other issues, including programs that teach about LGBT rights, race and discrimination.

The group has also developed a book grading system to identify books in schools that may contain inappropriate content. In Catawba County, for example, the school district reviewed eight books on a list of 24 that parents protested. Three have been removed from college libraries, but none have been banned outright.

In other parts of the country, chapters of Moms for Liberty have captured public attention. A member from Arkansas made headlines there when a leaked audio allegedly emerged of them threatening gun violence against a school librarian over book selections for young readers.

Tew said she can only speak on behalf of the New Hanover County chapter of the organization, and each chapter has a great deal of freedom from the national organization to conduct itself and select the issues on which focus on the community in which it is located.

Tew said in the coming weeks and months the group will begin to identify key issues they want to focus on in the schools and their curriculum. She said she has already garnered support from people interested in the organization in New Hanover County, as well as other surrounding school districts.

The group will then focus on engagement and education. She said she plans to continue to show up at school board meetings and that further efforts will depend on whether initiative members are willing to engage.

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Tew said that although her own daughter no longer attends schools in New Hanover County, she wants to continue advocating for issues such as parental rights because she believes other parents fear putting their own jobs at risk, or that their children could be bullied at school if they speak out.

“I really want to know that our parents have a place at the table. I want to collaborate with our school board members,” Tew said. “I don’t want to make it just my fight. I want this to be a community effort to work together and with our school board members to provide a safe environment in which our children can learn.

Reporter Sydney Hoover can be reached at 910-343-2339 or [email protected]

Aubrey L. Morgan