We live in an era of tremendous and record-breaking political polarization that is present everywhere we go. It has even made us afraid of sharing our own political opinions because of the fear that we might be ‘canceled’ or lose personal connections because of what the consequences of saying the incorrect thing might represent. That’s why one of the rules for Thanksgiving dinner is to avoid politics and religion!
However, in Ron DeSantis’ “Floridian Utopia”, the choice for thousands of students, professors and citizens has already been taken for them. And if DeSantis becomes the Republican nominee for President of the United States, our Founder’s aspiration of forming “a more perfect Union” will be forever delayed.
I know that’s a strong statement to make, but if we are being completely honest with each other, we just need to look at what the two-term governor has done recently to know that with a bigger platform, his threats to gained liberties will also increase.
So let me provide you with a small sample of what the “DeSantis Playbook,” as the governor calls it, looks like in Florida and how that represents a threat to freedom everywhere.
First, we need to discuss DeSantis’ signature policy, the “Parental Rights in Education Act” or the “Don’t Say Gay Bill” as critics who oppose it call it. Under this legal framework, the presidential hopeful successfully accomplished banning the instruction of “sexual education and gender ideology” from kindergarten to third grade. As a result, those who intentionally teach these topics in classrooms will be exposed to “revocation or suspension of the individual educator’s certificate” as stated in a state Department of Education policy.
Along with that bill, DeSantis also signed the “Curriculum Transparency Bill,” a law that prohibited the instruction of Critical Race Theory (CRT), abolished the Common Core in the state and gave parents the authority to review and object to any instructional material their children might use.
The result of this law? 41% of reviewed math textbooks were deemed as “woke math” and banned by the state government for classroom use. It also caused the removal of a children’s book depicting the biography of Puerto Rican baseball player Roberto Clemente, an action that the governor later described as “fake news” (what a surprise, right!) and a political move by local education unions to make the governor look bad.
More recently, the state rejected College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) African American studies class claiming that it “significantly lacks educational value” and violates state law, without specifically mentioning the law by name. This action, as you might know, caused the College Board to remove topics like critical race theory, the queer experience and Black feminism while adding “Black conservatism” to the curriculum.
And the latest development includes DeSantis hinting at getting rid of the College Board in Florida, meaning that students in the state wouldn’t be able to take AP courses nor the college admissions tests offered by the company and required by many universities.
Do you see the pattern? It’s either you agree with DeSantis’ vision of “freedom,” “liberty” and “anti-wokeness,” or the government will make sure that you have no other choice than to accept them eventually. He did it with Disney, he is doing it now with the College Board and he will keep doing it if he gets to the White House.
Let me give you one more example that might resonate with you.
Earlier this year, Ron DeSantis appointed six new conservative members to the New College of Florida Board of Trustees, unofficially staging a hostile takeover of Florida’s progressive liberal arts college. One of the smallest schools in the state’s university system, New College says on its website that they are “a just, diverse, equitable and inclusive community,” which goes against the state policy of teaching anything related to diversity, inclusion and equity.
Now, imagine if you choose to be in a particular university because of the values, the educational philosophy they practice and because they offer a diversity of classes and professors with different backgrounds. That is what I call the freedom to choose your education but in Florida, there is no such thing anymore.
What’s the next thing? Is the government also going to select a major and concentration for you?Ron DeSantis recently said during his inaugural address that “Florida is where woke goes to die.” I guess he meant that Florida is where liberalism and liberties go to die.