Sarasota resident Bridget Ziegler is a rising star in conservative education circles. Bridget was appointed in 2014 by Governor Rick Scott to fill a vacancy on the Sarasota School Board. Ziegler was elected to the Board in 2014, 2018 and again in 2022.
Initially, Ziegler was a lone conservative voice on the School Board because she believed in limited government, parental rights, transparency and fiscal responsibility. Her tireless work behind the scenes with the Florida Legislature resulted in the passage of the Florida Parents’ Bill of Rights.
I spoke recently with Bridget and asked her what initially sparked her interest in taking on the education establishment. She said the birth of her first child piqued her interest in public education. She felt that it was important for the School Board to be composed of parents of students, not just grandparents of students.
Ziegler believed that the education establishment was not focused on the concerns of parents but rather seemed focused on supporting the education bureaucracy. She began pushing back against the education union agendas. The education establishment noticed her work and began to push back against her. The idea of school choice and parental rights was scary to the education bureaucrats. Ziegler never faltered and her hard work culminated in the election of a conservative majority to the Sarasota School Board.
I asked Ziegler; How did public education get hijacked by the leftist elite? She believes that many school board members care deeply about the students but they become convinced that they must protect the system. They become convinced that they must have the back of the administration staff. Soon they lose sight of the concerns of parents and students.
Radical graduates of American universities have exploited the public school systems to push their agendas on naïve students. Over and over we see examples of education officials ignoring this infiltration by woke leftists.
Recently, Moms For Liberty, a conservative organization, began helping concerned school parents coordinate their opposition to the “woke” agenda being taught in public schools. These parents have demanded that they be involved in the adoption of school curriculums. This has set the education establishment on fire. They want you to pay your school taxes and leave every other decision about what is taught to them.
Recently, Ziegler accepted a position with the Leadership Institute. This enables her to train potential and actual school board members. She is able to share with them the most effective ways to take on the entrenched education establishment and put the focus on students.
Her willingness to take on the status quo has resulted in negative treatment of her by the traditional media. She relayed to me that reporters often have their story written before they ask her for quotes. Most of these reporters have graduated from journalism programs that are dominated by leftist agendas. Fortunately, Bridget has thick skin and realizes that her focus is not acceptance by the press or the bureaucrats but rather is on providing a good unbiased education for students.
For too long parents assumed that the public school system was making decisions based upon the best interests of the students. The pandemic and the resulting remote learning opened the eyes of many parents to the leftist agendas that have infiltrated our schools. This loss of focus on basic education often hurts the most vulnerable in our society.
Ziegler believes we need to bring the focus of the schools back to educating the students. Too often, the schools have become social organizations that focus on issues of poverty, but do so at the expense of educating the most economically deprived students.
Ziegler believes that education is what will allow the underprivileged students to rise above their economic conditions. She has been unflinching in her determination to bring the focus of public schools to education. She will not allow the education establishment to curry the favor of leftists while failing in their mission to educate our children.