Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a legislative agenda that seeks to dismantle woke ideology (including both diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and critical race theory (CRT)) in Florida’s public colleges and universities.
In a conference and press release, DeSantis stated that he is “aligning core curriculum to the values of liberty and the Western tradition, eliminating politicized bureaucracies like DEI, increasing the amount of research dollars for programs that will feed key industries with talented Florida students, and empowering presidents and boards of trustees to recruit and hire new faculty.”
His 2023 legislative agenda for higher education proposes removing “political loyalty oaths and DEI statements” from faculty job applications, banning colleges from funding CRT and DEI initiatives “regardless of source,” and giving college presidents and boards of trustees veto power over faculty appointments.
Other items on the agenda are designed to keep DEI and CRT from continuing under different labels. They would subject general education courses to review by the State University System Board of Governors and State Board of Education.
DeSantis’ proposals also seek to expand the number of accreditation options for colleges, in an effort to keep the dominant accreditors from using their monopoly power to require colleges to be woke in faculty hiring and curricula. “Prior to this legislation, accrediting agencies had a monopoly on Florida colleges and universities and were able to hold a hand over the operations of educational institutions and remove objectivity from the process,” the governor’s statement on related legislation said.
Colleges currently cite compliance with accreditation standards as an excuse for racial preferences in faculty hiring and millions in DEI spending. DEI requirements call for recruiting faculty from underrepresented groups, which hiring committees sometimes do by circumventing competitive, open recruitment processes.
As a result, the State University System of Florida (SUSF) spent $28 million on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) or critical race theory (CRT) initiatives in 2022-2023, according to records obtained last week by the University of Florida (UF) student newspaper.
The DeSantis memo also requested DEI and CRT spending from the Florida College System, which oversees 28 colleges in the state. A recent statement from the system’s presidents expresses their agreement with DeSantis’ vision for higher education. These colleges will “end all discriminatory DEI and CRT initiatives by tomorrow, February 1, 2023,” according to the DeSantis press release.
It says the DeSantis legislative agenda will “further elevate civil discourse and intellectual freedom in higher education, further pushing back against the tactics of liberal elites who suppress free thought in the name of identity politics and indoctrination.”