DeSantis ramps up ‘war on woke’ with new attacks on Florida higher education
Republican Florida governor unveils plans for overhaul of state university system as he prepares for expected presidential bid
Like many Americans in this age of stupid things, I face an existential question: Am I woke?
I assume not, because Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis hasn’t tried to ban me, as he recently did an AP high school course on African-American studies.
Alex Obraud, a 21-year-old anthropology student in his third year at New College in Florida, did not expect to be on the frontlines of America’s culture wars simply by attending university in the state.
But Florida’s rightwing Republican governor, Ron DeSantis – and likely would-be presidential candidate for 2024 – has launched a relentless campaign of attack on higher education in the state, seeking to appeal to his party’s Trumpist base by positing that the state’s colleges and universities are a bastion of liberal extremism that needs to be reformed.
Ron DeSantis’s war on “woke” in Florida schools
In 2020, Ron DeSantis’s administration declared him the “Education Governor” for how eager he was to dramatically change the state’s education system. Three years later, he’s provoked — and been engulfed in — an ongoing list of education controversies as part of his fight against “woke ideology,” or schools acknowledging or teaching about systemic injustice in American society.
As DeSantis prepares to announce his campaign for the presidency, as many have speculated, he has ramped up his involvement in Florida schools. Not only is he doubling down on existing legislation, he’s also introducing new rules and regulations — and making sure the Education Department follows through. While he largely focused on K-12 in the early years of his term, this year he has launched new plans to remake higher education. In January, DeSantis unveiled an aggressive higher education proposal, and in late February the Florida House followed the announcement by introducing HB 999, a bill that outlines specific changes to how public postsecondary educational institutions operate. If adopted, the legislation would take effect on July 1, 2023.