DeSantis Appoints Unqualified, QAnon-Flag-Waving Radical To Florida Board Of Education

State/Local Politics
DeSantis Appoints Unqualified, QAnon-Flag-Waving Radical To Florida Board Of Education
GOP Twitter Account

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis continued his assault on public education last week when he announced his appointment of local kook Esther Byrd to the state Board of Education. Esther Byrd is the wife of GOP state Rep. Cord Byrd, an attorney who specializes in gun laws. She’s president of the Republican Women's Club of Duval Federated and ran a failed campaign for a Neptune Beach City Council seat in 2020.

Esther Byrd has publicly defended the Proud Boys and supported the QAnon conspiracy. The Byrds were even photographed on a boat flying the QAnon flag. What was once dismissed as the GOP “fringe” in 2020 has been steadily normalized.

She’s also posted inflammatory statements on Facebook about the January 6 insurrection.

“ANTIFA and BLM can burn and loot buildings and violently attack police and citizens,” Byrd wrote last year. “But when Trump supporters peacefully protest, suddenly ‘Law and Order’ is all they can talk about! I can’t even listen to these idiots bellyaching about solving our differences without violence.”

She continued, “In the coming civil wars (We the People vs the Radical Left and We the People cleaning up the Republican Party), team rosters are being filled ... Every elected official in DC will pick one. There are only 2 teams… With Us [or] Against Us.”

This clearly charming person is probably more qualified to serve as the state’s surgeon general than DeSantis’s current pick, but she’s not the best choice for the Board of Education. It seems like all the rightwing bellyaching about “radical leftists” on school boards was a smokescreen so Republicans could pack the boards with partisan hacks.

The Florida GOP thinks the QAnon lady’s just great.

When the GOP refers to “parental rights in education,” it means Byrd supports the sick anti-LGBTQ “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The Board of Education is the body that would hear administrative appeals for “violations" of the disgusting law. DeSantis is already stacking the deck.

Critics of Byrd’s appointment have questioned her experience in the educational realm, probably because it doesn’t exist. Byrd’s past advocacy involves asking still-dead asshole Rush Limbaugh for copies of his Rush Revere series, which she planned to subject to a defenseless Nassau County elementary school class during her husband’s 2016 campaign. The Rush Revere series features “American history teacher Rush Revere and his trusty, hilarious sidekick Liberty the horse.” They’d travel in time to different historical events centering white men.

“This is the most conservative district in Florida, so I think they would be well received by most parents,” Byrd claimed. It’s unclear if Limbaugh ever came through with the books, but we can state definitively that he’s still dead.

Few serious people are thrilled with Byrd’s appointment. Liv Coleman, a political science professor from Tampa and a former Democratic state House candidate, tweeted: “[Ron DeSantis] corrupts education with political interference at every step of the process. He brings chaos to our school system."

Democrat Joshua Hicks, who’s running for Jacksonville City Council, was also appalled: "Seriously? She’s not only unqualified but since she’s a QANON believer and Proud Boys supporter, she shouldn’t have any role or say in our education system in Florida. This reeks and is absurdly disgusting."

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried, a Democrat who’s running for governor, said DeSantis is “turning our state into a joke — a cruel, radical joke.” Unfortunately, DeSantis has the full support of Florida Republicans, even after his inept COVID-19 management almost killed them all. He’s encouraging their worst impulses, like his mentor Donald Trump, and they have responded accordingly.

Meanwhile, Steve Zona, president of the Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police, congratulated Byrd on her appointment. He apparently believes Byrd’s a big supporter of law enforcement. This is the same woman who defended a known violent extremist group and minimized the January 6 insurrection where cops were violently assaulted.

Zona ranted predictably on Facebook:

When many democrat leaders in FL abandoned LEO’s during the riots/summer of love, Esther Lyle Byrd stood with us & never backed down. Congratulations on your appointment to the FL Board of Education. The parents in Florida are the winners, I know you won’t cave to the woke.

Byrd’s appointment requires confirmation from the GOP-controlled state Senate, but she has contempt for the right people so she clearly meets the only qualifications that matter to Republicans.

[The Florida Times-Union]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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