Home>Featured Stories>Moms for Liberty Strikes Accord with Arizona School Chief

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne speaking with attendees at the 2023 Update from Capitol Hill hosted by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, April 6, 2023. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Moms for Liberty Strikes Accord with Arizona School Chief

Tom Horne makes time to hear out right-leaning parental rights group

By Steve Kirwan, September 21, 2023 8:34 am

Moms for Liberty has a plan: flip Arizona school boards. While that might not be news for followers of the Florida-based conservative parental rights group, having support from the state’s Superintendent of Schools is. Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne met with the group in Mesa, Arizona, last Thursday night as the group attempts to rebuild after last year’s collapse of the Phoenix chapter.

Despite being considered polarizing by some, MFL’s increasing impact on school boards nationwide is undeniable. MFL has been successful in electing conservative board members, winning 275 of the 500 seats supported. That success is landing the group in liberal crosshairs.

Sometimes a shot from the fourth row feels more ‘real’ than a professional photograph. Here’s Sen. Jake Hoffman, Sen.Justine Wadsack, Rep. Justin Heap, and Rep. Barbara Parker talking education with Moms for Liberty founder Tina Descovich, Sep 14, 2023. (@azwomenofaction)

Created in 2021 by former Florida school board members Tina Descovich and Tiffany Justice as a foil to pandemic-related school closures and mask mandates, the group is not without controversy. They’ve recently earned the dubious distinction of being added to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s increasingly meaningless list of “extremist” groups. Their stated goals of advocating for “parental rights” in education and to “stop woke indoctrination” are seen as a threat to liberal hate groups who support the indoctrination of children.

Descovich was particularly pleased with the turnout Thursday night. Chapters typically start with a core group of 10-12 people, so the 70-participant meeting was quite a success. In addition to parents, the meeting featured serious political firepower. Joining Horne and the parents were Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell, Mesa Public Schools Governing Board Member Rachel Walden, Apache Junction Unified School District Governing Board Member Gail Ross, and Higley Unified School District Governing Board Member Anna Van Hoek, plus representatives from Turning Point USA.

The highlight of the meeting was a panel discussion featuring state Senators Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek), Justine Wadsack (R-Tucson), and state Representatives Justin Heap and Barbara Parker, both Mesa Republicans. Key discussion points included:

  • Closer monitoring of classroom teaching
  • Combating Marxism
  • Teaching “real American values”
  • Fighting teacher unions

During the meeting, Horne committed to supporting MFL’s goal to elect conservative school board members, announcing, “That’s going to be my main occupation for 2024.”

Horne is one of Arizona’s true power brokers. In addition to his 30 years of law practice, Horne served as Special Assistant Attorney General and a Judge Pro Tem in Maricopa County Superior Court and Arizona Court of Appeals. He taught Legal Writing at Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and authored a legal text on construction law published by the State Bar of Arizona.

Horne served 24 years on the Paradise Valley Unified School District, including ten as chairman. He served four years in the Arizona House of Representatives and eight as the Arizona Superintendent of Schools from 2008 to 2011. He was elected the Arizona Attorney General from 2011 through 2014, when Mark Brnovich defeated him in a primary. In 2022, Horne defeated incumbent Democrat Kathy Hoffman to become Superintendent of Public Instruction.

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Steve Kirwan
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