Daniel Davis and parents discuss school choice, parental rights


Published May. 4, 2023, 12:35 p.m. ET | Updated May. 4, 2023

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (FLV) – Republican Jacksonville mayoral candidate Daniel Davis joined a panel Wednesday to talk about parental rights in education and school choice Wednesday. 

Davis faces Democrat Donna Deegan in the May 16 election for Jacksonville mayor.

Davis, along with his wife Rebekah, Duval County Chair of Mom’s for Liberty Becky Nathanson, Founder of Cornerstone Classical Academy Lindsay Hoyt and Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Chief Jaime Eason, held a discussion about parental rights in education and school choice. 

During the panel, Davis said if elected mayor, he would be willing to set up a liaison in the mayor’s office with all of the education systems, including Duval County Public Schools. 

He said he thinks it is a “system of schools not a school system” and that’s going to be what “solves our workforce issues in the future.”

“Not just Duval County, not private, not just public charters, or homeschooling, it’s all of them together. And I’m planning on bringing everybody in on a regular basis,” Davis said.

Davis said if elected, he would make sure to “keep the school systems accountable” and ensure they are “making moves” the community wants.

“I promise you, when you shine light, everybody starts paying attention. And that’s what we’re gonna do. It’s critically important for the future of Jacksonville,” Davis said.

The Duval chair for Mom’s for Liberty told Florida’s Voice the group appreciates Davis’ “voice of support” for the concerns parents have.

“The fact that he is making mention of grassroots parents organizations, and of leaders of our public school system, and leaders of the classical charter movement,” Chair Becky Nathanson said. “Because a lot of elected officials or especially at the mayoral level, don’t see those as priorities for the mayor.”

According to Nathanson, Mom’s for Liberty asked all elected officials or candidates to sign a parent pledge that said they honor and recognize parent’s fundamental rights.

She said Davis asked to sign the parent pledge, but they did not hear back from Deegan.

Nathanson said there are ways the government may be “inadvertently violating” parental rights. She said parents “just want a seat at the table” when it comes to reviewing policies or decisions being made for their children by elected leaders to make sure their fundamental rights are being “acknowledged and affirmed.”

The event was moderated by State Board of Education member Esther Byrd. 

Byrd told Florida’s Voice that Davis’ “willingness to listen, to understand the issues that are presented to him and formulate a plan to address them [is] very refreshing.”

“Even if he can’t affect or change what the school board is doing, his willingness to just shine light on their concerns is really important,” Byrd said.

Byrd said the difference between Davis and Deegan “couldn’t be more stark.”

“Daniel appreciates and supports the rights of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children. We have seen only from the Democrats, you know, their disdain for parents,” Byrd said.

“I have no reason to believe that Deegan will be any different than any of the other Democrats that I see that are literally fighting against taking pornography out of our classrooms. So I mean, there really could not be a greater difference between the two of them and parents have a real choice to make,” she said.

During the panel, Davis said it’s important for parents to understand that they have a mayor that backs them.

“I’m going to make sure they have my full support,” Davis said. “And that’s critically important in a community to make sure that just like the police officers here know that I’m going to make sure they’re well equipped, and they have all the opportunities and more officers to back them up on the streets. Parents should know that their mayor feels the same way.”