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Concerned Parents of Sarasota Schools—a local moms group—packed a local school board meeting in an effort to push back against the possibility that Black Lives Matter (BLM) would be instituted as part of the education curriculum in classrooms.
A number of BLM demonstrators showed up, chanting outside the meeting, according to local news. The two groups had heated words in the parking lot.
"If you’re a teacher, your child shouldn’t know what your political stance is. That’s not in the classroom, and that’s been part of the problem," Ashley Cote, a mother of a Sarasota second-grader and founder of Concerned Parents of Sarasota Schools, said.
Cote said that she was alarmed that the BLM movement was being taught in Sarasota County Schools, adding that she felt the movement was a radical, terrorist group.
"It makes me very angry, so angry that I want to do more about it," she said.
Parents in the group accused board members of openly endorsing BLM material that was being taught in the classroom.
"That’s not okay, you don’t get to have an opinion as a teacher. You’re supposed to be non-partisan. That’s what we pay you for, we don’t pay you for your opinions," Kristen Brooks, a mom in the group, said.
A BLM spokesperson, Sarah Parker, said that "this is about black history being taught as an organization."
Members of BLM endorse the idea that the organization should be taught in schools, pointing to its historical significance, while urging educators and school board members to "tell the truth."
BLM members said at the meeting that it was crucial to teach diversity and inclusion.
"To think that a couple a whiny people just frantically blew this so out of proportion," said teacher Mary Holmes. "After seeing these parents here today, it’s alarming."
BLM's Parker said: "I don’t understand why this is even a debate honestly. We teach Math, Science, English, Spelling, and History. This is history."
There has been recent pushback against the teaching of critical race theory in American schools, and many parents have taken a greater interest in what their kids are learning in schools.
In September, President Donald Trump came out against the use of critical race theory in federally funded schools, and created a counter-program called the 1776 Commission, which would give grants to schools to teach history that focuses on American heroism and accomplishments than its flaws.