Florida’s ongoing war against so-called “wokeism” has reached a new low. On Wednesday, 28 presidents of Florida’s state and community colleges announced that they would seek to eliminate policies and academic programs that are viewed as forcing a “belief in critical race theory” or subjects related to intersectionality.
“Our institutions will not fund or support any institutional practice, policy, or academic requirement that compels belief in critical race theory or related concepts such as intersectionality, or the idea that oppression should be the primary lens through which teaching and learning are analyzed/ improved upon,” the Florida College System presidents wrote in a joint statement.
The alarming move comes weeks after Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered Florida’s colleges and universities to submit comprehensive reports outlining spending data on programs related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and critical race theory, prompting fierce condemnation that the move would pressure universities to simply cut such programs from their budgets. The request builds on Florida’s “Stop WOKE” Act, which aims to restrict race-based teachings in Florida schools and colleges.
Speaking to WFTV 9, Jonathan Cox, a sociology professor at the University of Central Florida, said that he stopped teaching classes on racial inequality thanks to the “Stop WOKE” Act.
“A lot of the proponents say they want to help develop critical thinking skills and not indoctrinate them, but they’re really doing the exact opposite,” Cox said.
Anyone paying attention to the Florida governor’s crusade against CRT won’t be surprised by these recent developments. As my colleague Abigail Weinberg has written, DeSantis leads his Republican colleagues in misrepresenting and demonizing critical race theory to further fan the flames of a manufactured culture war. According to Weinberg, that’s likely by design.
Surely, during his undergraduate coursework at Yale or his law studies at Harvard, DeSantis encountered some discussion of redlining, environmental racism, discriminatory policing, or any of the other injustices that might be described as “systemic.” DeSantis knows that these exist, but in denying them, he divorces his actions from historical context and gives himself cover to perform stunts like arresting (mostly Black) Floridians for registering to vote when they didn’t know they had been barred from doing so. If DeSantis says “woke” often and loud enough, he just might be able to distract voters from the retrograde nature of the policies he’s enacted.
The Florida College System’s embrace of DeSantis’ policies is all but certain to see the end to countless programs teaching race in higher education.