A local woman has launched a charter of a grassroots organization in New Hanover County to bring “parental rights” back into schools.
Natosha Tew founded the New Hanover County chapter of Moms for Liberty, which held its first meeting on June 28.
Tew, the parent of a former New Hanover County Schools student, said she hoped to speak out for parents who feel they don’t have a voice to defend their children from a school system that has “far overreached their role and purpose.”
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“I was really hoping we would be able to affect some positive change over the past year with the local school board, and it just didn’t work out to the way we had hoped,” Tew said. “So, I took a step back and reevaluated and decided to launch this New Hanover County Moms for Liberty.”
Moms for Liberty is a national non-profit “social welfare group” as defined by the IRS, which can advocate for causes. It began in January 2021 in Florida and is considered a conservative parents-rights group.
They quickly gained traction in the Sunshine State, with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis last spring inviting a member to witness the signing of a bill that allowed parents more say in public school teaching materials.
The group now says it has 201 chapters across 37 states, totaling 90,000 members.
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 all that have a desire to stand up for parental rights at all levels of government.”
Its main goal is to fight “for the survival of America” by empowering parents to stand up to local governments like school boards and defend their rights in making decisions in their children’s lives.
For Tew, seeing Moms for Liberty’s success in other areas motivated her to get in contact with 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 is true for New Hanover County where liberal and conservative parents regularly spar passionately over a host of educational issues ranging from social studies curriculums to book titles in libraries to LGBT issues.
As for Tew, she eventually pulled her daughter out of New Hanover County Schools to homeschool her after she said she was targeted and bullied for not wearing a mask in school.
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“I liked that they're a grassroots organization,” Tew said of Moms for Liberty. “I like the principles that they stand on and I wanted to be a part of the fight to defend parental rights.”
While started by moms in school districts outside Orlando, Florida, the organization is open to anyone – grandparents, dads, aunts, uncles, and friends, according to its website.
Their goals are to hold leaders accountable, oppose government overreach and promote liberty, among others. The group has targeted mask mandates and touched on other issues, including curriculums that teach LGBT rights and race and discrimination.
The group has also developed a book ranking system to identify books in schools that may contain inappropriate content. In Catawba County, for example, the school district reviewed eight books from a list of 24 that parents protested. Three were removed from middle school libraries, but none were banned outright.
In other parts of the country, Moms for Liberty chapters have gained public attention. A member in Arkansas made headlines there when leaked audio reportedly emerged of them threatening gun violence against a school librarian over book selections for young readers.
Tew said she can only speak for the New Hanover County chapter of the organization, and each chapter has significant liberty from the national organization to conduct itself and select issues to focus on based on the community it's in.
Tew said in the coming weeks and months, the group will begin identifying key issues they want to focus on in schools and their curriculum. She said she’s already gained 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 on continuing to show up to school board meetings, and additional efforts will depend on the initiative's members want to take up.
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Tew said while her own daughter is no longer attending New Hanover County Schools, she wanted to continue advocating for issues like parental rights because she believes other parents fear they could put their own jobs in jeopardy, or their children may be bullied at school if they speak out.
“I really want to know that our parents have a seat at the table. I want to collaborate with our school board members,” Tew said. “I don't want to make it's just my fight. I want it to be a community effort to work together with each other and with our school board members to provide a safe environment that our kids can learn in.”
Reporter Sydney Hoover can be reached at 910-343-2339 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Wilmington StarNews: Organization in New Hanover wants to restore 'parent rights' in school