Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued a statement about his higher education agenda. He intends to expunge all references to or studies of diversity, equity, inclusion and “critical race theory,” the study of institutionalized racism from the curriculum of the state’s colleges and universities. He also wants to place the hiring of new faculty in the hands of college presidents and boards of trustees, whom he controls. The hiring of new faculty typically is in the hands of the faculty, not the president or the board of trustees.

DeSantis claims that he is furthering “civil discourse and intellectual freedom” by suppressing the ideas he disagrees with. He believes that the only studies that belong on a college campus are the achievements and thoughts of white men.

He has flipped the script, accusing those who defend the freedom to teach and learn of “suppressing” free thought. It is he who is suppressing intellectual freedom.

In Florida, faculty are free to express Governor DeSantis’ views. They are not free to express dissent from the party line. That is not freedom.

Ron DeSantis is the ultimate arbiter of truth in Florida. None dare challenge him if they teach in a public school, college, or university. There’s a word for this ideology: fascism.

“Today, Governor Ron DeSantis announced legislation for the 2023 Session to 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. Among its many provisions, the legislation will ensure Florida’s public universities and colleges are grounded in the history and philosophy of Western Civilization; prohibit DEI, CRT (CRITICAL RACE THEORY), and other discriminatory programs and barriers to learning; and course correct universities’ missions to align education for citizenship of the constitutional republic and Florida’s existing and emerging workforce needs.”

“In Florida, we will build off of our higher education reforms by 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, including by dedicating record resources for faculty salaries,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.

“This 2023 legislative proposal builds on reforms made during the 2022 Legislative Session through Senate Bill 7044 to dismantle accreditation agency monopolies, increase tenured faculty accountability, and make the transition between a Florida state college and university more seamless. Specifically, the 2023 proposal raises the standards of learning and civil discourse of public higher education in Florida by:

Requiring the State University System Board of Governors (BOG) and State Board of Education (SBOE) to review and realign general education core courses to make sure they provide historically accurate, foundational and career relevant education, not suppress or distort significant historical events or include a curriculum that teaches identity politics;

Prohibiting higher education institutions from using any funding, regardless of source, to support DEI, CRT, and other discriminatory initiatives;

Requiring institutions’ presidents and boards of trustees to take ownership of hiring and retention decisions, without interference from unions and faculty committees;

Allowing institutions’ presidents and boards of trustees to conduct a post-tenure review of a faculty member at any time with cause;

Prohibiting postsecondary institutions from using discriminatory political filters, including political loyalty oaths and DEI statements, in the hiring process.”

“Requiring preeminent state research universities to include annual research expenditures of $50 million or more for STEM-related occupations, businesses, or industry partners in Florida that are employing Florida residents;

Requiring the Board of Governors (BOG) to align universities’ missions to education for citizenship of the constitutional republic and Florida’s existing and emerging workforce needs;

Providing additional responsibilities and clarifications for FSU’s Florida Institute of Politics, including renaming it the Florida Institute for Governance and Civics; and Providing additional responsibilities and clarifications for FIU’s Adam Smith Center for the Study of Economic Freedom.”

The New York Times reported on DeSantis’s aggressive attack on higher education as part of his cynical use of culture war tactics, which build his base nationally.

The DeSantis-controlled board of New College fired its president, English professor Patricia Okker, who was appointed in 2021.

While expressing her love for both the college and its students, Dr. Okker called the move a hostile takeover. “I do not believe that students are being indoctrinated here at New College,” she said. “They are taught, they read Marx and they argue with Marx. They take world religions, they do not become Buddhists in February and turn into Christians in March.”

Governor DeSantis also announced on Tuesday that he had asked the Legislature to immediately free up $15 million to recruit new faculty and provide scholarships for New College….

The shake-up of New College, which also included the election of a new board chairwoman, may be ongoing and dramatic, given the new six board members appointed by Mr. DeSantis.

They include Christopher Rufo, a senior fellow at Manhattan Institute who is known for his vigorous attacks on “critical race theory,” an academic concept that historical patterns of racism are ingrained in law and other modern institutions.

At the time of his appointment, Mr. Rufo, who lives and works in Washington State, tweeted that he was “recapturing” higher education.

Another new board member is Eddie Speir, who runs a Christian private school in Florida. He had recommended in a Substack posting before the meeting that the contracts of all the school’s faculty and staff be canceled.

The other new appointees include Matthew Spalding, dean of the Washington, D.C., campus of Hillsdale College, a private college in Michigan known for its conservative and Christian orientations. An aide to the governor has said that Hillsdale, which says it offers a classical education, is widely regarded as the governor’s model for remaking New College.

In addition to the governor’s six new appointees, the university system’s board of governors recently named a seventh member, Ryan T. Anderson, the head of a conservative think tank, the Ethics and Public Policy Center, which applies the Judeo-Christian tradition to contemporary questions of law, culture, and politics. His selection was viewed as giving Mr. DeSantis a majority vote on the 13-member board.

The plan seems clear: Fire faculty who teach “identity” courses or anything “woke,” drive away the students, who wanted the progressive approach that New College offered, and turn the college into the Florida branch of Hillsdale College.