Gov. Florida’s Ron DeSantis, who is running for president next year, has become a well-known culture warrior, promising to take religious beliefs with his champions, whether they’re at Disney, on Martha’s Vineyard or in the state. public libraries.
But his crusade has probably been most successful in classrooms and universities. He has banned gender and sexuality instruction in kindergarten through third grade, limited what schools and employers can teach about racism and other historical issues and rejected many math textbooks for what the government calls “teaching .” Most recently, he banned the College Board’s Advanced Placement courses in African American studies for high school students.
On Tuesday, Governor DeSantis, a Republican, took a more aggressive approach to education, announcing reforms to the state’s higher education system that would end what he called “emotional inequality.” If implemented, the education of Western civilization will be dictated, diversity and justice systems will be abolished, and the security of the time will be reduced.
His plan for public education is going well with other recent events – banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, sending Venezuelan immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard and stripping Disney, the unprecedented political giant in Florida, of its achievements. he was happy for half a century.
His pugilistic style was rewarded by voters who re-elected him by 19 percent in November.
Appearing on Tuesday at the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, one of the 28 public colleges that are supported by the state and the community, Mr. DeSantis vowed to open the page on the actions that he said were “against the freedom of education” in Florida higher education. system. These programs “bring people together to try to start politics,” DeSantis said. “This is not what we believe is right for Florida.”
He had already moved to replace the leadership of New College of Florida, a small liberal arts school in Sarasota that struggled with enrollment, but called itself a place for “liberal thinkers.” It is considered one of the 12 most progressive universities in Florida.
Mr. DeSantis cited low enrollment and low test scores at New College as part of the reasons for wanting that change.
“If it was a private school, making those decisions, that’s fine, I mean, what are you going to do,” he said. “But this is paid for with your tax dollars.”
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The college’s board of trustees, consisting of six permanent members appointed by Governor DeSantis, voted in an emergency meeting Tuesday afternoon to replace the president, and agreed to appoint Richard Corcoran, formerly of the state education committee, as permanent president from March.
(Because Mr. Corcoran will not work until March, the board appointed a temporary, Bradley Thiessen, director of the college of institutional research.)
Mr. Corcoran will succeed Patricia Okker, a longtime English professor and college dean who was appointed in 2021.
While expressing his love for all the college and his students, Dr. Okker called the move a radical takeover. “I can’t believe the students are being taught here at New College,” he said. “They are educated, they read Marx and they disagree with Marx. They adopt world religions, they don’t become Buddhists in February and they become Christians in March.”
Governor DeSantis also announced Tuesday that he has asked the Legislature to release $15 million to hire new teachers and provide tuition at New College.
In total, he asked the Legislature for $100 million a year for public universities.
He said: “We put our money where our mouth is.
New College is small, with about 700 students, but the shakeup reverberated throughout Florida, just as Mr. DeSantis wanted to do.
Andrew Gothard, president of the state teachers union, said the governor’s comments about higher education in the state were perhaps too violent.
“There is a sense that Ron DeSantis thinks that he and the Legislature have the right to tell Florida students what courses they can take and what degrees they can pursue,” said Dr. Gothard, who is on leave from his faculty position at Florida Atlantic University. “He’s saying out of one side of his mouth that he believes in freedom and then he’s going to pass and issue completely different laws and policies.”
At the board meeting, students, parents and professors defended the school and criticized board members for acting out of bounds.
Betsy Braden, who identified as a parent of a transgender student, said her daughter did well at the school.
“It seems that many students who come here have decided that they don’t fit in with other schools,” said Ms. Braden. “They accept their differences and show incredible courage in moving forward. They do well, they flourish, they go out into the world to improve people. This is well documented. Why take this away from us?”
Mr. Corcoran, a friend of DeSantis, was mentioned as a possible president of Florida State University, but his nomination was withdrawn following questions about whether he had a conflict of interest or academic merit.
A letter from Carlos Trujillo, president of Continental Strategy, a Corcoran affiliate, said the company expects its position at New College to be permanent.
Not since George W. Bush’s 2000 run for “education president” has a Republican candidate for the Oval Office made school reform a central issue. That may be because, for years, Democrats had a double-digit advantage in education voting.
But since the pandemic began in 2020, when many Democratic-led states have kept schools closed longer than Republican states did, often under pressure from teachers unions, some polls show that education is now moving in favor of Republicans. And the victory of Glenn Youngkin in 2021 in the Virginia gubernatorial race, after a campaign that focused on “parental rights” in public schools, was seen as a sign of the political power of education and voters.
Mr. DeSantis’ attack on diversity, equity and inclusion aligns with recent criticism of such programs by conservative and conservative organizations.
Examples of such efforts include school divisions on “microaggressions” — small-scale incidents that are often based on race or gender — and requirements for school applicants to submit statements detailing their commitment to diversity.
“It’s like making people swear a political oath,” DeSantis said Tuesday. He also criticized investment programs that “destroy the economy and help raise costs.”
Supporters of DEI’s programs and courses say they help students understand the world and their interests and beliefs, improve their interpersonal and workplace skills.
Mr. DeSantis’ embrace of social studies, as well as the establishment of special social studies programs at several of the state’s 12 universities, coincides with the growth of similar programs across the country, some with limited donor support.
These programs emphasize the study of Western civilization and economics, as well as the views of Western philosophers, who often focus on the Greeks and Romans. Critics of these programs say that they sometimes hide the trappings of Western thinking and ignore the perspectives of non-Westerners.
“The fundamental principles must be grounded in the real history, the real philosophy that has shaped Western civilization,” DeSantis said. “We don’t want students to go through, at the expense of taxes, and graduate from zombie education.”
The New College shake-up, which also includes the appointment of a new board chair, may be more dramatic and dramatic, thanks to the six new board members appointed by Mr. DeSantis.
They include Christopher Rufo, the executive director of the Manhattan Institute who is known for his strong attack on “race essentialism,” the academic idea that ancient traditions of segregation are entrenched in laws and other modern institutions.
At the time of appointment, Mr. Rufo, who lives and works in Washington State. tweeted that he was “repeating” higher education.
Another new board member is Eddie Speir, who runs a private Christian school in Florida. He also said in Substack’s posting before the meeting that the contracts of all the school’s teachers be cancelled.
Other nominees include Matthew Spalding, president of the Washington, DC, campus of Hillsdale College, a private college in Michigan known for its conservative and Christian values. An aide to the governor has said that Hillsdale, which claims to offer high-quality education, is considered a model for the governor in renovating New College.
In addition to the six new governor nominees, the university’s board of governors recently named a seventh member, Ryan T. Anderson, director of the conservative think tank Ethics and Public Policy Center, which uses Judeo-Christian ethics to these days. legal, social, and political issues. His nomination appeared to give DeSantis the majority of votes on the 13-member board.
Jennifer Reed contributed reports. Kitty Bennett assisted the research.