Ziegler Pushes for Parental Rights in Schools Race

Todays News

In the eight years since first joining the Sarasota County School Board, Bridget Ziegler developed a national profile. She has appeared regularly on Fox News, played a vocal role in the school choice movement and stood alongside Gov. Ron DeSantis as he signed his most high-profile education priorities. This weekend, she appeared on a panel with Sen. Rick Scott at the Moms For Liberty conference in Tampa with other high-profile conservatives to discuss education issues.

Now she stands for re-election to a third full term and hopes an energized parents’ rights movement paves the way to political success. “This is a moment here,” Ziegler said. “I believe it benefits our children when parents are engaged and involved. Our students absolutely win when we build partnerships with families. That is a recipe for academic success.”

First appointed to a School Board vacancy by then-Gov. Scott in 2014, Ziegler always served as a controversial figure. She’s served in a political minority on the board her entire tenure, and frequently clashed with some outgoing School Board members like Shirley Brown and Jane Goodwin. Notably, she’s supporting other candidates, Robyn Marinelli and Tim Enos, for open seats on the board and could find herself the leading figure in a new majority.

Meanwhile, she’s a fixture on cable news, where she has talked about hot-button issues like critical race theory and the handling of LGBTQ students in schools.

As a personal matter, her opponent Dawnyelle Singleton has questioned the fact Ziegler opted to enroll all of her own children in private schools instead of the district. Ziegler feels discussing family decisions falls out of bounds for the campaign. “I will never apologize for the decision we believe was best for our child and neither should any parent,” she said.

But she also said the board needs to hear the concerns of parents angry about certain agendas being pushed in schools.

“That’s the frustration— the continuing moving of policies focusing on promotion of gender ideology and different political agendas that clearly a diverse community doesn’t always agree on,” Ziegler said.

While Ziegler does stress the need to keep schools an environment where all students are safe from bullying, she supports a parental rights bill that says schools should leave instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation to parents and out of the classroom. She also voices concerns about books parents don’t want on library shelves that discuss such matters. Asked about whether taking those books off shelves, as another law passed this year could lead to, she stressed the need for schools to focus on core curriculum.

“The role of education as a public government body is to stay within their lanes,” she said. “Parents are more frustrated that education is going far outside those lines, and asking to do far more than what an educator is even capable of doing in a school day, and that further creates division.”

Ziegler also stressed a belief that policymakers, not teachers themselves, should be held accountable for this shift. Locally, she blames the School Board majority.

“We need to be teaching a curriculum based on fact and rooted in science and not agendas,” she said, “and there is clearly a different element that cares about feelings versus facts.”

The Sarasota School Board election will be held on Aug. 23.

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