If we ever thought the current war on “wokeness” isn’t an effort to dumb America down–to keep the kids from learning about times when the country failed to live up to its principles, to keep them from reading books that might stretch their horizons or (horrors!) make them aware of the existence of folks unlike Ma and Pa–Florida is disabusing us of that error.
Ron DeSantis is updating the old lyrics. Remember “How will we keep them down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree”? In Florida, it’s now “How will we keep them in the GOP after they’ve learned to think?” (Indiana’s legislators are singing along…)
Talking Points Memo has the most recent abomination emanating from the sunshine state.
The Florida statehouse launched another strike in Gov. Ron DeSantis’s “anti-woke” war with a new bill this week aiming to hand more control of school administration over to the governor and his political appointees.
House Bill 999, introduced on Tuesday by Rep. Alex Andrade (R-Pensacola), proposes to give boards of trustees nearly unanimous power over state university faculty hiring, allow professors’ tenure to be reevaluated “at any time,” remove critical race theory and gender studies from college curricula, and bar spending on diversity, equity and inclusion programs.
The bill also digs in on DeSantis’ obsession with shutting down any educational instruction on race and systemic racism, stating that general education courses must not “suppress or distort” historical events, reference identity politics like critical race theory, or define U.S. history in ways that contradict “universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence.” Instead, the courses must “promote the philosophical underpinnings of Western civilization and include studies of this nation’s historical documents, including the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments thereto, and the Federalist Papers.”
Of course, “suppressing and distorting American history” is precisely what this bill–and the “anti-woke” movement– would do.
DeSantis’ administration has actually threatened teachers that they will be charged with felonies if they allow students to check out unapproved library books. His rejection of an AP African American Studies course for “lack[ing] educational merit” (!!) made national headlines (as did the disgraceful acquiescence of the College Board that “corrected” its curriculum.)
Decisions that are typically made with university presidents and boards of trustees in cooperation with faculty and staff – like setting up core curricula and deciding which departments should close, would be handed exclusively over to the board – members of which are appointed by the governor.
What Daniel Gordon, a historian at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and author on academic freedom , finds “particularly striking” about the bill is that it doesn’t require trustees to consult university faculty before hiring new professors. “This contradicts a principle, well established by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), that [sic] professors in a given discipline have the expertise needed to select a new faculty member in the discipline,” he told TPM. “Math professors are the people best equipped to assess applications for a professorship in math!”
In January, DeSantis announced plans to defund diversity, equity and inclusion programs in every public university in the state.
If these appalling measures were limited to Florida–if this out-and-proud racism and anti-intellectualism were limited to just one arguably deranged office-holder– it would be bad enough. But as the linked article notes, DeSantis’ “anti-woke” proposals are clearly intended to appeal to a “very specific breed of Trump voter as he mulls a 2024 bid.”
We all know what that “specific breed” believes.
DeSantis is evil, but not stupid. He clearly intends to ride the tide of White Supremacy to the White House, and he just as clearly believes that there are enough voters who share his racism, misogyny and homophobia to put him there.
A 1939 article from the Atlantic said it best.
THE early Americans were determined that education should be free from political control. Being liberals in the original and true sense of the term, they believed in the integrity of the individual as opposed to the despotism of the state. This integrity or dignity of the individual was, of course, basic in democracy. Among other things, it implied the right of the citizenry to think independently, to seek truth honestly, and to determine without political interference what should constitute the education of their children….
It was the experienced judgment of these early liberals that education, religion, and the press should be free from political domination. These were the institutions of thought. They had to be untrammeled if the individual was to be free. Hence it came about that early America produced a peculiar system of education, its outstanding characteristic that it was to be supported and controlled by the people, by parents, by citizens — but not by the state.
I guess our Founders were woke.