Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has vowed to defund diversity programs at the state’s public colleges and universities.
DeSantis proposed cutting funding for all diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs along with critical race theory teachings that are supported by state dollars.
When DeSantis’ administration asked public colleges and universities in December to provide budget data and other information on efforts relating to diversity, equity and inclusion as well as critical racial theory, the recently announced defunding was already anticipated.
Universities argue that DEI programs are crucial for addressing unconscious bias and supporting students from minority communities. DeSantis is ready to do away with this and replace it with obligatory classes like Western civilization.
African American history is increasingly being removed from school curricula, as seen by the governor’s decision to stop sponsoring these programs.
The Legislature will hear the proposal in March, after the 2023 60-day session gets underway. DeSantis has said he will use every effort to see that this plan is adopted because it is in tune with “woke culture.”
DeSantis is attempting to overthrow academic liberties, erasing historical reality, and rewriting history to fit his own narrative, according to the state-wide president of United Faculty of Florida, the union representing professors at the state’s public institutions.
Teachers in some school districts are being told to discard their books or cover their bookcases with paper in several areas.
Kennede Cofield, a social worker in Tallahassee, believes people of color will continue to study their history regardless of the governor’s efforts.
“Someone like this shouldn’t be a prospective Republican presidential candidate in 2024. DeSantis has essentially admitted to being racist in several ways,” Cofield said. “He won’t prevail because we’ll keep educating about our history in our homes and churches.”
Although it’s unclear why DeSantis is targeting different minority groups, they are protesting and continuing to fight for their history to be taught in schools.
DeSantis has criticized “woke” ideologies in education while saying that the CRT and DEI programs are racially insensitive and discriminatory. He thinks that teacher evaluations should be conducted in schools “more aggressively” than every five years.
Alexis Dummerjean, a vice president with the Florida A&M University chapter of the NAACP, admits that DeSantis’ actions are puzzling.
“Ron DeSantis is terrified of something; he is afraid of the power of information that would come from people becoming more educated, especially Black people,” Dummerjean said. “The state’s education department is in shambles and taking away the basic rights of minority groups and we can’t sit around and let this happen.”
Jaeden Patterson, another FAMU student who is with the NAACP, says it is simply wrong to deny Black youth an opportunity to learn about their history.
“I’ve done my part. DeSantis intentionally tries to exclude African Americans and other minority groups from their history and education, which in my opinion makes him irresponsible and will only harm our youth. Young children won’t feel capable of taking on leadership roles or stand up for issues they believe in if they don’t learn about the wonderful things their ancestors accomplished,” Patterson said.