Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has taken to the state level what parents in many states are fighting at the local level with their school boards. With the pandemic forcing many children to take classes remotely, the nationwide protests and riots during the summer of 2020, and the launch of the 1619 Project, parents have become aware of the radical ideas schools are imparting to their children. One of the threats involves content based on critical race theory, which claims that America is fundamentally racist and people are either oppressed or oppressors based solely on their racial identity.
During a press conference in Naples, Florida, DeSantis made clear what schools in Florida would be teaching. It is not any curriculum based on critical race theory.
“Florida’s civics curriculum will incorporate foundational concepts with the best materials, and it will expressly exclude unsanctioned narratives like critical race theory and other unsubstantiated theories,” DeSantis said at a press conference Wednesday in Naples, calling that and other theories “politicized academic fads.”
“Let me be clear, there’s no room in our classrooms for things like critical race theory,” he said. “Teaching kids to hate their country and to hate each other is not worth one red cent of taxpayer money.”
He also announced an incentive for teachers to take training in the statewide civics program. Teachers will receive a $3,000 bonus if they get certified. The curriculum supports graduating seniors taking a civics test similar to those taken in the citizenship process. Some of us are old enough to remember when this was required to graduate, even in left-wing California. Governor DeSantis bringing it back to Florida is fantastic news.
Of course, the Orlando Sun-Sentinal is framing all of this as political pandering to conservatives:
The proposal is the latest DeSantis initiative that appears aimed squarely at pleasing conservatives in advance of not only his 2022 reelection campaign but also a potential 2024 Republican bid for president.
DeSantis’ priorities this year include his controversial anti-protest bill aimed at Black Lives Matter protesters and cracking down on the People’s Republic of China’s stealing of intellectual property, as well as cementing his reputation nationally as the biggest Republican opponent of anti-COVID-restrictions.
The reporters on this particular beat may be surprised to learn these are not just conservative issues. In Loudon County, Virginia, where Joe Biden won by 10 points, critical race theory is under rigorous debate. It has gone so far that there is a criminal investigation into a Facebook group made up of teachers and public officials who are doxing and threatening to hack parents who oppose a critical race curriculum.
Further, Bari Weiss recently wrote a piece on Substack outlining parents’ and students’ concerns in Southern California and New York City related to critical race curriculum. Last we checked, neither is a conservative enclave, and Weiss is not a conservative, either:
I grew up in L.A., and the Harvard School definitely struggled with diversity issues. The stories some have expressed since the summer seem totally legitimate,” says one of the fathers. He says he doesn’t have a problem with the school making greater efforts to redress past wrongs, including by bringing more minority voices into the curriculum. What he has a problem with is a movement that tells his children that America is a bad country and that they bear collective racial guilt.
“They are making my son feel like a racist because of the pigmentation of his skin,” one mother says. Another poses a question to the group: “How does focusing a spotlight on race fix how kids talk to one another? Why can’t they just all be Wolverines?”
These parents are terrified to object to what their children are learning for fear of social shaming. Their children are also anxious and confused:
The atmosphere is making their children anxious, paranoid, and insecure — and closed off from even their close friends. “My son knew I was talking to you and he begged me not to,” another Harvard-Westlake mother told me. “He wants to go to a great university, and he told me that one bad statement from me will ruin us. This is the United States of America. Are you freaking kidding me?”
Even teachers see the issues:
“I am in a cult. Well, that’s not exactly right. It’s that the cult is all around me and I am trying to save kids from becoming members.” He sounds like a Scientology defector, but he is a math teacher at one of the most elite high schools in New York City. He is not politically conservative. “I studied critical theory; I saw Derrida speak when I was in college,” he says, “so when this ideology arrived at our school over the past few years, I recognized the language and I knew what it was. But it was in a mutated form.”
This teacher is talking with me because he is alarmed by the toll this ideology is taking on his students. “I started seeing what was happening to the kids. And that’s what I couldn’t take. They are being educated in resentment and fear. It’s extremely dangerous.”
The entire article from Weiss is stunning and well worth a read. Governor DeSantis is saving parents and students from having to confront this type of curriculum now and in the future. While the Sun-Sentinel notes that critical race theory is not a part of the state curriculum, individual teachers, school boards, and administrators can bring this type of content into the school and teach it. Not in anymore. At least not in Florida.