DeSantis proposes sweeping higher education measures aimed at ‘indoctrination’ – Tampa Bay Times
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday announced a package of major reforms to Florida’s higher education system, including tighter controls on faculty tenure, the establishment of “civics institutes” at three universities and prohibitions on diversity, equity and inclusion programs.
Speaking at a news conference in Bradenton, the governor praised Florida’s ranking by U.S. News & World Report as the top state for higher education before unveiling a plan that he said would realign universities with their missions.
“There’s really a debate about what is the purpose of higher education, particularly publicly funded higher education systems,” he said. “You have the dominant view, which I think is not the right view, to impose ideological conformity, to provoke political activism. Instead, we need our higher education systems to promote academic excellence.”
The activism is often manifested in “DEI bureaucracies” that impose an agenda, DeSantis argued, referring to diversity, education and inclusion programs.
His proposal would prohibit state schools from supporting those programs, or activities related to critical race theory — both of which DeSantis has described as divisive.
“It’s not the best use of your money,” said the governor, who recently required all state colleges and universities to report how much they spent on such initiatives. He said he plans to have them “wither on the vine” with no funding.
Among those reacting to his announcement was State Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, who said on Twitter: “Nothing says you oppose ideology on college campuses…. like pushing your ideology on college campuses.”
The ACLU of Florida tweeted: “The governor’s latest attempt to restrict free speech and erase the history and legacy of discrimination in America by impeding the right to share ideas and receive information in classrooms is dangerous for our democracy and future generations.”
Shawn Frost, a former Indian River County School Board member and conservative activist, said, “I don’t think this is a controversial take to most conservatives.”
He noted DeSantis’ double-digit victory in the November election, adding: “Let the man focus on doing his job without ascribing ulterior motives to leading like a proven conservative.”
DeSantis was accompanied by Christopher Rufo, one of the six trustees he appointed to the New College board of trustees on Jan. 6. Rufo, a 38-year-old conservative journalist and fellow at the Manhattan Institute, has been tweeting recently against diversity, equity and inclusion departments in higher education.
“This is going to be the place where equality, merit and colorblindness are the law of the land,” Christopher Rufo said Tuesday. Rufo is one of the six trustees Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed to the New College board of trustees on Jan. 6.
“It’s pretty ugly stuff,” he said at the news conference, mentioning examples of white and Christian students on campuses made to feel shame. He described the term diversity, equity and inclusion as “an Orwellian misuse of language that manipulates you into thinking it’s …….