Two new women members of Florida’s State Board of Education made their debuts today, revealing a conservative to far right bent that could foreshadow their priorities for the state’s public school system and its 2.8-million students.
Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Esther Byrd and Grazie Pozo Christie in mid-March, just before the 2022 legislative session was ending.
Byrd, from Duval County, used her first board meeting to signal to Floridians that she will be fighting “ideology” within Florida schools.
“I’m just a mama and the parent of two children — one’s graduated and one in second grade,” Byrd said Wednesday. “And we’ve seen the ideology that’s in our education system and it’s not okay. And I look forward to working with this board to make sure that we find those things and we tackle them.”
Her comments came during the Board of Education’s meeting in Naples, in Southwest Florida.
Byrd’s appointment in March sparked controversy, as her social media posts appeared to be supportive of far right causes, such as the white-nationalist group, the Proud Boys, and the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection.
The Florida Times-Union media outlet, located in Jacksonville, reported in mid-March: “Byrd most notably landed in the public eye for her tweets supporting the Capitol insurrection as well as the QAnon conspiracy theory and defending the Proud Boys. A photo of the Byrds flying a QAnon flag on their boat was widely circulated last year.”
Byrd is the wife of Republican state Rep. Cord Byrd, and she currently serves as a legal assistant and office manager for his law firm, which appears to focus on Second Amendment cases, according to the office’s website. (The language in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution includes: “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”)
She also served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2002 to 2010, according to a March press release from the governor’s office.
Byrd continued her remarks at the board meeting Wednesday:
“If I could just speak to the Floridians for just a second…I want you to know one thing: these people (the Board of Education) are not bureaucrats. They are not just here, you know, getting paid by taxpayer dollars. They care about what they do. They care about the kids, and serving Floridians, and through my orientation and the short time that I’ve been involved, I have been so impressed with all of the staff and how much they genuinely care about what they’re doing.”
The other newcomer is Grazie Pozo Christie of Miami, who is a radiologist. She currently is heavily involved with Catholic organizations such as The Catholic Association which describes itself in part on its website as “defending religious liberty, life, and the Church in the public square.”
Her Twitter account currently is comprised mostly of anti-abortion tweets or retweets. Christie posted a reference on her Twitter page, claiming that “late term abortion is never medically necessary.”
Outside of the abortion front, she also weighed in on divisive legislation now in law — the so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay” measure — limiting the instruction of sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools.
When White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield said Tuesday that the bill will have “tragic impact,” Christie, who supports the bill, tweeted: “Tragic impact on child groomers and deranged ideologue kindergarten teachers.”
On Wednesday, at the state board meeting, Christie said she was “surprised” but honored to be appointed to the state Board of Education.
“Also I very much admire in the way that the governor and this board and the Department of Education has put a real focus on parental rights, on transparency, on doing for children and young adults, what they need, which is to educate them,” Christie said Wednesday. “To educate them to be ready for the great challenge of living a successful life out in the workforce and building great families. And I think that’s what education ought to be about and that’s what I feel this board is doing.”
Both newcomers expressed their disappointment of not being able to work with current Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, who is expected to step down in late April.
“I’m sorry I wont be working with you, Commissioner,” Christie said.
Corcoran spent the first part of the meeting giving his farewell comments to the board, thanking the board members and department staff.
Though maintaining composure, Corcoran seemed emotional in his remarks.
“This is, in all likelihood, the last full board meeting I would participate in as your commissioner. It’s been a great run,” Corcoran said.
He added: “I’ve said it at the last meeting: I don’t think there’s a finer board in the state. I don’t think there’s a board that’s had more adversity thrown their way, more controversy. Our meetings are probably the most lively of any meetings in the state and you guys, you know what you believe, you know what your philosophy is and you have the courage to fight for it.”
Two new Yes women just great
On the balance sheet of protests, riots & loots, the conservative extreme pales in comparison to the liberal progressive extreme for property damage, infringements on the rights of others. And in the middle, moderates, the rest of us are just the victims of both lunatic fringes, waterboarded with their agendas with every news story. Ever notice the controversial issues, created by 2 extreme minorities that can’t coexist ?
DuhSantis is a pain. He needs to get over himself and we need to vote him OUT!
Donald J Trump says
Two more members of Ron’s concubine, where does he get the time for these two when he spends so much time licking Trump’s balls. Ladies, just be careful these guys have been rumored to have multiple STD’s.
So glad I don’t have a child in school in Florida.
Oh my!!! God help Florida!
There are far and few actual Republican party members left. The party now is the Trump Cult Qanon party set out to spread lies and fake propaganda as well as support dictator leadership.
America you better start waking up to the reality of this and DeathSantis is supporting all this so remember this when you cast your voting ballots.
Michael Cocchiola says
This is just deplorable in so many ways. Florida has gone insane under DeSantis.
Just another step backwards for Floridians. VOTE!
Deborah Coffey says
“… their priorities for the state’s public school system…” Anyone with eyes can see that those priorities involve taking over the entire public system of education in Florida. What is THEIR vision? A White nationalist, “Christian,” propaganda system meant to induct every student in the state into THEIR autocratic, Q-Anon philosophy of America. Our country is in grave danger. Florida is becoming a Fascist state at the speed of light. We’ve got to stop them all. Every eligible Floridian will have to vote a Democratic ticket to teach these crazies a lesson.
As a former disgusted Member of the Republican Party, I will certainly do my part to vote these Q-Anon pandering, fascist insurrectionists enablers out!
Deborah Coffey says
Thank you, Froggy. This is not the Republican Party I grew up with 60 years ago. Not even close.
Nor mine. The Republican Party died when DJT was elected. It is now the party of white supremacy, racial hatred, voter suppression, conspiracy theories including Q-Anon, anti-science, corruption, obstructionism, fondness for autocratic despots around the world and enablers of the January 6th insurrection and the Big Lie which precipitated it. I am sure I missed a few more but I am not OK with what they have become. So yes they are light years away from their former self and the party of Lincoln.
S. Peters says
Thank God I don’t have kids in school anymore. These sick people, especially DeSantis are a danger to society.
You know? I really try to keep my cool, and give level headed responses this stuff. Um, I’ll try.
Insurrection is plainly treason. Anyone who supports it is, in my opinion, treasonous. In the eight grade, a group of us 14 year olds took a train trip to Washington D.C. and did a major tour of government sites. One was the Tomb of the Unknown Solider. It had one of those red velvet ropes around it and was guarded by an armed soldier. We were told, under no uncertain terms, that if we crossed the velvet barrier, we would be shot! We took it seriously (and respectfully). January 6th made Americans look like fools in a third world country. We’re better than that.
Qanon is just flat out Qrazy. That’s all.
Those of you who would like to ban books, do yourselves a favor and read “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury. Those of you who like autocratic leaders should read “1984” by George Orwell. If that’s too much, or you have too little time, read “Animal Farm” by the same author. Those of you who do not understand fascism, look into “Rick Steve’s Fascism in Europe” on PBS. No familiar American names are mentioned. These are all serious eye openers. We all need to know where we are headed.
So you think that there are more women in government, and that’s a good thing for your party. Well, it is, but women can be jerks too.
I’m sorry to see that there are people, both voted in or appointed, that want to take the beautiful State of Florida to a place that is an embarrassment to the most of us. We should not be a place of conspiracy theories or voter suppression; Floridians are above that but only if we vote these Qrazy people out of office.
Let’s get back to Planet Earth, and start compromising again. You know, the democracy our country was based on.
Land of no turn signals says says
Nothing wrong with leveling the playing field.
We are slowly being taken over by dictatorship. People complain about government being too big and interferring in our lives and what we do? What do those people think DeSantis and other governors like are doing right now? Appointing far right people, suppressing the vote amongst certain people, appointing far right people to count the votes and change the vote if they don’t like the results, deciding what can be read or not read in the schools, dictating what can be said and not said about certain groups of human beings, on and on. I call that a whole lot of “government” intervention or dictatorship.
PLEASE Pay attention and realize that this is what the younger generation will be growing up with and us parents and older adults will have to deal with it too , Right now the courts are thinking about refusing DeSantis some of his wishes, but he “owns” the courts so I don’t hold much hope for success.
One of the things that really bothers me is that a lot of “regular” Reps will not vote for Trump in the primary but will vote for him in the general election because they won’t vote for a Dem for any reason! WTF? They should vote for the candidates beliefs and what he or she wants to accomplish, not the party, especially not the POT party(POT=Party Of Trump) and his supporters and the cowardly lawmakers that go along with all of this mess and the country enabled them to get away with this treachery.
DeSantis is a the problem, maybe if his wife dies from her current illness he would learn some humility and start thinking about the damage he is doing to civilization. Just like Trump, this man never stops hurting people and society.
Before anyone casts their vote at the polls remember this—TRUMP LIKES and ADMIRES PUTIN! Do you want a Party of Trump majority in 2022 and a 2024 presidential candidate that is friendly with Putin. Trump also once said he believes Putin over his own people. He will pot a lot of his corrupt friends into a white house position and also continue his “romance” with Kim Jon Un North Korea.