Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ Momentous Escalation in Republican Politics
Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, has emerged as a pivotal figure in the Republican party. The pandemic catapulted his status to a national level, and now, DeSantis is focusing his lens on education policy. Launching a comprehensive campaign against what he perceives as progressive indoctrination, DeSantis is now set to overhaul the education system of the Sunshine State.
DeSantis’ educational reform includes extensive reviews of classroom materials and regulations on discussions concerning sexuality and race with students. As rumors of a potential presidential run swirl, let’s delve into his efforts to reform Florida’s education landscape.
Unleashing the Stop WOKE Act
In 2022, the Stop WOKE Act emerged, delivering a substantial legislative blow aimed at curbing discussions on race and gender in classrooms and workplaces. This legislation bars teachings asserting inherent bias due to one’s race or sex, or responsibility for historical actions based on race or sex.
The term “woke”, originally a signifier for Black Americans to convey awareness of social and racial injustice, has been rebranded by the GOP as a symbol of progressive ideology. Despite the lack of a unified GOP consensus on its meaning, the term’s association with academia is a popular target for politicians.
Controversial ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill
One of DeSantis’ more prominent moves has been the endorsement of the Parental Rights in Education Bill, infamously termed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Critics have slammed this legislation, contending it uses child protection as a smokescreen for censorship. This legislation restricts discussions about sexual orientation or gender identity within specified grade levels and manners. It further prevents school employees from withholding any information about a student’s mental or physical well-being from their parents.
Undergoing Book Bans
Under DeSantis, Florida instituted a law that demands all books accessible to children be approved by a certified “district employee”. The law sparked widespread alarm, resulting in a mass removal of books for review. This law proscribes any content considered “pornographic” or “not suited to student needs,” a criterion so vague that many teachers prematurely removed books to avoid legal repercussions.
Teacher’s Unions In DeSantis’ Crosshairs
Early in May, DeSantis enacted a law introducing stringent requirements on public-sector unions, notably including those representing teachers and healthcare workers. The law prohibits salary deductions for union fees and mandates a 60% membership rate. Additionally, it sets term limits for school board members and restricts social media usage on school Wi-Fi.
DeSantis’ Higher Education Overhaul
Armed with a veto-proof supermajority in the state Legislature, DeSantis holds the reins to shape state policy and provide a sturdy platform for a potential presidential bid. The HB 999 bill tests this power, proposing to significantly weaken professor tenure at state institutions and bar certain subjects from academic programs.
New College of Florida: An Epicenter of Change
DeSantis’ vision for higher education has already started reshaping the New College of Florida. Early in 2023, DeSantis appointed a slew of conservative allies to the board of trustees, marking the commencement of his campaign against “wokeness” on college campuses. Critics argue that this change compromises the campus’s status as a bastion of liberal thought in a predominantly conservative state.
Attacking LGBTQ Rights and Transgender Athletes
In 2021, DeSantis approved a bill barring transgender athletes from competing in women’s public school teams. Furthermore, DeSantis remains a vocal critic of gender-affirming care, and in January, he initiated a survey asking public universities and colleges in Florida to report on their provision of transgender health services.
Public bathrooms, changing rooms, and locker rooms in Florida will have separate facilities based on biological sex.
Our wives and daughters deserve protections from woke ideology run amok. pic.twitter.com/PHKPCVORRl
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) May 18, 2023
AP African American Studies Ban
Earlier this year, DeSantis made headlines by banning a pilot course in AP African American Studies, arguing that it violated state law. He maintained that he opposed not the teaching of Black history, but the course’s content, especially its references to intersectionality, Critical Race Theory, and “queer theory”.
The Battle Against Critical Race Theory
DeSantis is a well-known opponent of critical race theory (CRT). The proposed HB 999 bill would prevent the teaching of any CRT principles in higher education and would stop any Florida students from majoring in subjects related to CRT.
This comprehensive overview presents Governor DeSantis’ sweeping reform efforts in the Florida education system. As we look towards the future, these efforts are set to shape the education landscape of Florida, and potentially, the nation.
The AP African American Studies Ban
DeSantis has banned a pilot course in AP African American Studies, arguing that it violated state law due to its content that included references to intersectionality, Critical Race Theory, and “queer theory”.
Conclusion: A Turning Point in Florida’s Education Policy?
Governor DeSantis’s extensive reforms are set to radically transform the education landscape in Florida. With changes that span from kindergarten to higher education, DeSantis is making a significant impact on future generations. The effects of these policies, whether beneficial or detrimental, will unfold in the years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What is the “Stop WOKE Act?”
The “Stop WOKE Act” is a legislative action passed in Florida in 2022, aimed at limiting the way gender and race are discussed in classrooms and workplaces.
2. What is the “Don’t Say Gay” bill?
The “Don’t Say Gay” bill is the nickname given to the “Parental Rights in Education Bill” by critics. The bill restricts discussions about sexual orientation or gender identity in classrooms and workplaces.
3. What are some notable changes in the book approval process in Florida schools?
Under Governor DeSantis, Florida passed a law requiring all books available to children to be approved by a “district employee holding a valid educational media specialist certificate.”
4. How is Governor DeSantis transforming higher education?
DeSantis has proposed a bill, HB 999, which could significantly weaken professor tenure at state institutions and restrict studies in areas related to critical race theory, intersectionality, and gender studies.
5. What is DeSantis’ stance on LGBTQ rights and transgender athletes?
Governor DeSantis supported a bill banning transgender athletes from competing on women’s public school teams and has been a vocal opponent of gender-affirming care. He has also launched a survey to find out if public universities and colleges in Florida provide transgender health services.