UPDATE March 2022: Florida passed the Stop WOKE Act, which “strengthen state civil rights laws and prohibit schools, corporations, and government agencies from promoting race essentialism, collective guilt, and racial scapegoating in the classroom or the workplace.” (https://legalinsurrection.com/2022/03/florida-passes-the-stop-w-o-k-e-act-targeting-critical-race-theory/)
Florida is a study in contrasts. On the one hand, Governor Ron DeSantis worked with the Florida Board of Education and, in a unanimous 8-0 vote, the board adopted a resolution banning CRT from K-12 education in the state. On the other hand, the State University System (SUS) called for an expansion of social justice and expressed a desire to battle systemic inequities.
Florida Board of Education Unanimously Votes to Ban Critical Race Theory in Public Schools (source: https://legalinsurrection.com/2021/06/florida-board-of-education-unanimously-votes-to-ban-critical-race-theory-in-public-schools/)
“The woke class wants to teach kids to hate each other, rather than teaching them how to read, but we will not let them bring nonsense ideology into Florida’s schools,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.
On Thursday, June 10, Governor Ron DeSantis joined the Florida Board of Education to announce new teaching standards banning elements of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in the state’s public schools. In a unanimous 8-0 vote, the Board of Education adopted a rule change that says, in part, “instruction on the required topics must be factual and objective, and may not suppress or distort significant historical events.”
DeSantis issued a press release highlighting his remarks at the event, held in Jacksonville:
Today, Governor DeSantis joined the State Board of Education Meeting to discuss the importance of maintaining the integrity of Florida’s academic standards by keeping Critical Race Theory out of the classroom.
In his press release, DeSantis noted several attempts to teach CRT in Florida schools:
Palm Beach County School Board approved a new “Equity Definition” and “Equity Statement” on May 5, 2021, which reads in part: “The School District of Palm Beach County is committed to dismantling structures rooted in white advantage.”
In Sarasota County Public Schools, they showed a Black Lives Matter video that says in part “there is a built-in system of bias that makes life easier for white people.”
In Jacksonville, a school planned to hold two school cultural meetings in which students would be separated based on race.
School districts face fiscal sanctions for violating the new rule, which now reads:
(3) As provided in Section 1003.42(2), F.S., members of instructional staff in public schools must teach the required instruction topics efficiently and faithfully, using materials that meet the highest standards of professionalism and historical accuracy.
(a) Efficient and faithful teaching of the required topics must be consistent with the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards and the Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking (B.E.S.T.) Standards.
(b) Instruction on the required topics must be factual and objective, and may not suppress or distort significant historical events, such as the Holocaust, and may not define American history as something other than the creation of a new nation based largely on universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence.
(c) Efficient and faithful teaching further means that any discussion is appropriate for the age and maturity level of the students, and teachers serve as facilitators for student discussion and do not share their personal views or attempt to indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view that is inconsistent with the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards and the Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking (B.E.S.T.) Standards. [emphasis added]
A bill expanding the ban on CRT in K-12 education has been prefiled for the 2022 legislative session, which begins January 11. (source: https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/politics/bill-would-expand-florida-ban-on-critical-race-theory-beyond-k-12-public-schools)
Many of Florida’s public universities have embraced CRT in the form of mandatory training for faculty, staff, and incoming students. In 2013, the Board of Education adopted the Florida College System Employment Equity Accountability Program, and issued a status update in 2018 (https://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/7724/urlt/FCS18-EEAR.pdf):
The Florida College System is composed of 28 public state and community colleges. Each college’s district board of trustees (DBOT) governs the college and develops policies and procedures as required by Florida Statutes. Section (s.) 1012.86, Florida Statutes (F.S.), requires each Florida College System institution to develop a plan for increasing the representation of minorities and females in three specific employment categories: senior-level administrative positions, also referred to as Executive/Administrative/Managerial (EAM) positions, full-time instructional staff and full-time instructional staff with continuing contracts. Colleges examined employment trends demographically for blacks, Hispanics and other minorities as well as females. Referred to as the Florida College System Institution Employment Equity Accountability Program, s. 1012.86, F.S., requires the State Board of Education to provide an annual systemwide report to the president of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives.
The State University System (SUS) released a letter in June 2020 regarding the death of George Floyd that read, in part:
Everyone in the University Community condemns the deplorable act that caused the death of George Floyd. Our anger, sadness, and frustration over Mr. Floyd’s death, however, must give us resolve to take action. As a powerful and influential voice in Florida, it is time for the State University System, including students, faculty, staff, and alumni, to actively engage in finding solutions to peacefully eliminate racism and discrimination. This will be a critical mission of our twelve state universities, as it is our duty as societal leaders to help end prejudice and to promote social justice for all.
Our universities will draw upon the wisdom and leadership of our students, faculty, and staff to strengthen our campus communities and our State. Together, we must move forward with greater resolve to battle racism and systemic inequities wherever they exist. (source: https://www.flbog.edu/2020/06/02/a-letter-to-the-state-university-system-community/)