A Moms for Liberty backdrop during an event in Florida in November 2023.
Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP
Leaders of the conservative group Moms for Liberty are behind a new charter school in Charleston.Charter schools are largely independent but publicly funded. So taxpayers will be footing the bill.The school will follow the “patriotic” 1776 Curriculum, the newsletter Popular Information reported.
Some leaders of Moms for Liberty, the conservative group that has pushed for “parental rights” in schools nationwide, are behind the opening of a new charter school.
Two members of Charleston’s Moms for Liberty chapter are listed on the governing board for the new Ashley River Classical Academy, a fact that prompted local protests last week. The school is set to open in the fall. It will first offer classes for grades K-5 but plans to add grades 6-12 too eventually.
At a Moms for Liberty meeting in Mount Pleasent on Thursday, one protester said the charter school would likely “create more little moms for liberties, which I’m sure is the choice,” local CBS affiliate WCSC-TV reported.
Tara Wood, the chair of Charleston’s Moms for Liberty chapter and a member of the new charter school’s board, told Business Insider in a statement that “Ashley River Classical Academy is not a Moms for Liberty school.”
“It is one of Hillsdale’s K-12 schools and I just happen to be on the board. That’s it,” Wood said. Hillsdale College, a private college in Michigan, has crafted conservative lesson plans free of charge for grades K-12 that center on American exceptionalism.
Charter schools operate mostly independently from government oversight yet are publicly funded, which means South Carolina’s taxpayers, whether they support the conservative curriculum championed by the Moms for Liberty women or not, will be footing the bill.
Moms for Liberty is mostly known for pressuring school districts to pull books it deems explicit or indecent — the vast majority of which are written by, or focus on, members of the LGBTQ+ or racially diverse communities. It is considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for what the nonprofit calls “hateful imagery and rhetoric against the LGBTQ community.”
Moms for Liberty members insist they aren’t banning books since those books can still be found at other libraries. “We are simply trying to protect our children from sexually explicit books,” the group’s Charleston chapter says on its website.
“For the record, Moms for Liberty has never attacked the LGBT+ community. That is another lie!” Wood said in an email to BI. “We also are not targeting sexually explicit books with only the LGBT+ themes. For some reason, there are so many sexually explicit books that fall under those themes. We include all sexual orientations when discussing sexually explicit and graphic books that are not age-appropriate for children.”
Popular Information‘s Judd Legum told MSNBC that the new charter school will follow the right-wing 1776 curriculum, which was designed by Hillsdale College. Hillsdale says the curriculum is the “education American students deserve.”
“This curriculum called the 1776 curriculum,” Legum told MSNBC, “really kind of flows directly out of the Trump administration who had a 1776 commission to establish more patriotic education.”
The controversial curriculum, which conservatives wishing to rebrand education are pushing in schools across the country, emphasizes American exceptionalism while omitting past and enduring systems of oppression in the United States, according to the American Historical Association.
Asked about the curriculum, Wood said: “What is so ‘controversial’ about the year our country was founded?”