DeSantis: Defund Universities That Promote ‘Indoctrination’

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 29: Governor Ron DeSantis gives a briefing regarding Hurricane Dorian to the media at National Hurricane Center on August 29, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eva Marie Uzcategui/Getty Images)
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) gives a briefing regarding Hurricane Dorian to the media at National Hurricane Center on August 29, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eva Marie Uzcategui/Getty Images)

Florida state colleges and universities that show signs of “indoctrination” may be defunded, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said on Tuesday, as he and others on the right crusade against what conservatives have decided to call “Critical Race Theory.”

DeSantis said that he was trying to stop the state’s colleges and universities from becoming “hotbeds for stale ideology.”

“That’s not worth tax dollars, and that’s not something that we’re going to be supporting going forward,” he added at a press conference held at a middle school in Fort Myers, Florida.

DeSantis, a bombastic Trump supporter up for re-election next year, made the remarks after signing a law that will force state-funded universities and colleges to poll their faculty, students, and staff for “intellectual diversity,” the Tampa Bay Times reported. That survey, the paper reported, will focus on “the extent to which competing ideas and perspectives are presented.”

DeSantis doubled down on that idea in his remarks, saying that many institutions of higher education are “intellectually repressive environments. You have orthodoxies that are promoted and other viewpoints are shunned or even suppressed.”

While the Florida governor didn’t name any specific “stale ideology” in that section of his remarks, they come amid a national furor on the right over diversity training at workplaces and efforts to teach students about the legacy and ongoing reality of racism in America.

Conservatives have come to call that “Critical Race Theory,” borrowing an academic and legal term that actually refers to a far narrower concept. DeSantis boasted about banning so-called “Critical Race Theory” on Tuesday. It’s become a national issue, with the usual cast of conservative non-profits mobilizing around the country to draft laws at the state level that would ban the ideas from being taught, and to encourage parents to raise the boogeyman at local school board meetings.

“We do not want a curriculum that is judging students based on their race,” DeSantis said, adding that he had also banned the “1619 Project,” apparently referring to a 2019 New York Times magazine issue which positioned the history of slavery and experience of African-Americans as central to the country’s history.

“We do not want false history like you see with the 1619 project,” DeSantis said.

It’s not clear how the “survey” of “intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity” would work. DeSantis ridiculed colleges for promoting “indoctrination,” while also signing into law a bill that would ensure that “students receive instruction on the evils of communism and totalitarian regimes.”

Referring to the bill mandating surveys of ideological diversity, DeSantis added, apparently without irony, that “students should not be shielded from ideas.”

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