Parental rights group forms here to protect children’s liberties

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As a mother of four, Amy Kappelman says she’s always believed in the importance of active parent involvement in K-12 education. She has put that belief into practice by taking on PTA leadership roles at several of the schools her children, who currently range in age from 11 to 17, have attended over the last 15 years in four different states — most recently serving as president of the Margaret B. Pollard Middle School PTA.

Kappelman says the turmoil and upheaval of the past few years motivated her to gain a broader perspective on K-12 education, so she began to attend Chatham County school board meetings on a regular basis. Her experiences at these meetings stirred in her a desire to help extend parents’ impact not just within the specific schools her children attend, but in the schools of her wider community — and that’s how Moms for Liberty - Chatham County came about.

This week, we speak with Kappelman about the new local chapter of the national organization.

For those not familiar with it, what is Moms for Liberty?

Moms for Liberty is an organization whose mission is to support individuals who wish to stand up for parental rights at all levels of government. Founded by two former school board members who had grown tired of the growing overreach in public education, Moms for Liberty connects and unites parents so they may have an equal voice in their children’s education and ensure their liberties are being protected.

What led you to the decision to start a chapter in Chatham County, now one of 11 in North Carolina?

I have attended the Chatham County school board meetings on a regular basis over the past couple years. At these meetings, I continually met like-minded parents who were dismayed by the behavior of the school boards. We witnessed harmful decisions being made that had nothing to do with education and, in fact, oftentimes, these decisions were impeding the education of the children of Chatham County. This group of parents represented families from several different schools in the county and we all shared the same frustrations. I wanted to find a way to connect parents from all across the county who may be feeling similarly. The mission and goals of Moms for Liberty aligned with our way of thinking and I decided to start a chapter in our county.

What’s the interest been like for your chapter?

Definitely enthusiastic. Within one week of deciding to start the chapter, I had 30 people signed up ... and that was only through word of mouth. We continue to have one in-person meeting a month and with all the options of social media, chat rooms, etc., we are in regular communication. We are working hard to make sure we continue to be a positive force for the parents and educators of our county.

Have you developed specific objectives for your work here?

Our specific objectives are to help our schools focus on educating our children. Schools are not healthcare facilities nor are they platforms for social justice. We want to focus on directing attention away from the “noise” and back to education — reading, writing and arithmetic, critical thinking, organizational and learning skills. As well, our schools need support inside the classroom. Parents have increasingly been deterred from providing teacher and classroom support and we would like to bring those support systems back. Our goal is to help our schools create and foster a positive, achievement-oriented environment that builds our children into productive and empowered members of our community.

Whether we can make a difference in these areas is yet to be determined, but we are hoping to find a way to connect parents by virtue of the fact that we simply want the best for our children and our community. Even with all of our differences, we all have the same basic goal — the best possible education for our children.

Moms for Liberty’s co-founders both served on local boards of education, and much of the work of chapters so far has focused on lobbying local boards for the end of mask mandates. You spoke at length on that subject at a Feb. 14 board of education meeting. Can you share your thoughts about the mandates and what your focus will be now that masking is optional in Chatham County Schools?

I am extremely grateful my four children now have the option not to wear a mask. As there has been absolutely no difference in the spread of the virus now vs. when they were wearing masks, I am hopeful there will not be any more mask mandates or school shutdowns. However, based on the current mindset of our school board, I am concerned there will be issues ahead. Moms for Liberty will continue to defend our parental rights and redirect the school board to common sense solutions.

Some Moms for Liberty chapters around the county have drawn criticism for sowing division among parents and using disruptive tactics. You’ve previously said the Chatham County chapter would use a positive, proactive approach in your work. Can you elaborate?

I, personally, have been nothing but impressed with the teachers and schools here in Chatham County during the five years I have lived here. I, and the parents I have been talking to, have wanted to support them in their efforts to teach our children as best we can.

How can we provide help in the classroom? How can we help teachers to be liberated to do their jobs and teach without worrying about being suspended for some unexplained “policy”?

I am not aware of any “sowing division” or “disruptive tactics” by any chapters. I am frustrated at the mainstream media’s negative spin on all the positive changes that members of Moms for Liberty have accomplished. If “division” is created by virtue of reading and explaining legislation or highlighting classroom reading materials viewed as harmful to a child’s development, then perhaps we need to reconsider the way in which we perceive constructive conversations.

Parents should be considered the priority stakeholder in decisions being made on behalf of their children by the school boards and it is imperative their voice be heard. Putting education at the forefront is the only way to make a difference in our children’s lives and their future. Moms for Liberty believes parental rights and putting children first is essential to making this happen. The best form of social justice is to educate children — all children.

How can people find out more about Moms for Liberty?

Visit our website or email Moms4LibertyChathamNC@protonmail.com.

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