Archives for category: Academic Freedom

Governor Ron DeSantis is filling every empty college presidency available with political cronies who have no experience or qualifications.

Fred Hawkins, a state legislator, was named as the president of South Florida State College, where he was the sole finalist in the search.

Hawkins served from 2008 to 2020 on the Osceola County Commission. But Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended him in July 2020 after Hawkins was charged with impersonating a law-enforcement officer. Hawkins went on to get elected to the House in November 2020.

During a special legislative session this year, Hawkins sponsored a high-profile bill that was a priority of DeSantis. The bill gave DeSantis authority to appoint the board of the former Reedy Creek Improvement District, which also was renamed the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. The change came amid a festering feud between DeSantis and The Walt Disney Co., which had long benefited from the Reedy Creek district.

Hawkins earned a BS in political science at the University of Akron. He has no experience in higher education.

After DeSantis took control of the board of New College, his board fired the president and replaced her with DeSantis crony Richard Corcoran, a hard-right ideologue who had served as state commissioner of education but had no experience in higher education.

Taking control of the state’s higher education is integral to DeSantis’s war on academic freedom. With politicians in charge who are loyal to him, DeSantis can oust anyone who dares to teach about racism or gender.

The Miami Herald editorial board wonders why the state’s leaders devote all their time fighting WOKE but ignoring the dramatic rise in insurance rates.

Ron DeSantis and the Republicans in the legislature have spent an entire session battling drag queens, gays, trans kids, public schools, Black history, librarians, and academic freedom. They have given each other high fives, but homeowners will get hikes in their insurance, which was not on the political agenda.

We know all too well that Florida property insurance costs have been skyrocketing, with no end in sight. Now there’s a new study that shows just how bad it’s gotten, and it’s even worse than we thought.

According to the data analysis company LexisNexis Risk Solutions, the state’s property insurance costs are up by an incredible 57% since 2015 — nearly triple the national average of 21%, as the Miami Herald reported.

If that weren’t enough misery, Florida distinguished itself in another way: Insurance costs have been rising faster in Florida than in any other state.

Given all of that, you might expect to see the governor and Legislature running around as though their hair was on fire, trying to come up with fixes for our crippled insurance market before regular, non-rich Floridians are forced out and lawmakers get blamed for destroying the middle class.

Lawmakers distracted

But that’s the kind of logic that worked in saner times. In 2023, Florida’s leaders are so busy trying to get Gov. Ron DeSantis into the White House — with a legislative session tailored to his agenda, no matter the cost — that they can’t be bothered to spend much time on insurance, even though it’s a complicated and important issue that affects regular people.

No, in Florida, the long-running and worsening property insurance crisis has been buried under an avalanche of anti-woke measures, the ones DeSantis seems to think will carry him to Washington.

That’s a dangerous strategy. As the Florida governor hits the campaign trail in places like Iowa, he leaves himself vulnerable to charges that he’s not taking care of business at home.

For example, on Wednesday, the governor was set to visit the U.S. southern border. It’s a clear attempt to generate more headlines on immigration, following another taxpayer-financed stunt in which Florida flew migrants from Texas to California. Meanwhile, Floridians back home will be facing record hikes in flood insurance — an average hike of 131%. Where’s the governor’s outrage on that?…

The state is facing a property insurance crisis. Where are our leaders?

Please join me and your many allies in D.C. on October 28-29 for our 10th anniversary conference. It promises to be our best ever!

Sign up now.

You will have a wonderful time!

And you will meet your favorite bloggers, hear great speakers, and meet people who are fighting against privatization across the nation.

Retired educator Rich Migliore knows that the current rightwing demands for censorship violate the Constitution. Sadly, the current Supreme Court seems determined to obliterate the long-honored tradition of separation of church and state, creating a breach into which religious zealots are eagerly pushing their creeds. The high court has signaled through several of its recent decisions that at least five, possibly six, of its members are willing to eviscerate that separation.

He writes:

Freedom of thought, freedom of belief, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and the freedom to read books of our choice are among our most precious human rights. And the freedom from having other people’s religion and beliefs imposed upon us is among our basic human rights as a free people. That is why they were placed first in the Bill of Rights.

When we allow others to impose their religion and beliefs upon us we cease to be a free people. May I again quote from my favorite Supreme Court Opinion issued in the year that I graduated from high school.

“The vigilant protection of constitutional freedoms is nowhere more vital than in the community of American schools.” Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District; U.S. Supreme Court (1969), (quoting Justice Brennan in Keyishian v. Board of Regents.

“The classroom is peculiarly the ‘marketplace of ideas.’ The nation’s future depends upon leaders trained through wide exposure to that robust exchange of ideas which discovers truth ‘out of a multiple of tongues, (rather) than through any kind of authoritative selection.”

Our founders wisely separated church and state. And the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process clause protects our liberty interest in freedom of thought, freedom of belief and freedom of religion.

We do not give up those rights “when we cross the school house gates.” Nor do our children.

Ron DeSantis wants to make America just like Florida, where the maximum leader (Ron DeSantis) has a docile legislature that lets him decide what everyone else is allowed to do and punishes those bold enough to ignore his orders.

That’s why he is running for President. He thinks the whole nation needs and wants a maximum leader with a reactionary view of behavior and morality.

Florida is where you are free to do whatever Ron DeSantis tells you to do and free to think what he believes. If you disagree, you are no longer free.

The Miami Herald editorial board says DeSantis has turned Florida into a mean state. No, you don’t want to make America Florida.

Florida, under Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republican Legislature, is increasingly hard to recognize. It’s an intolerant and repressive place that bears scant resemblance to the Sunshine State of just a few years ago.

The 2023 legislative session cemented those appalling setbacks. Florida is now a state where government intrusion into the personal lives of Floridians is commonplace. What will it take for citizens to push back on this unprecedented encroachment on their rights? And, more broadly, what if Desantis supporters get what they want, which is to “make America Florida”?

The latest round of laws makes Florida sound more and more dystopian — something voters in the rest of the nation should note if they are considering what a DeSantis presidency could look like. The state has new rules for who can use which bathroom, what pronouns can be used in schools, which books can be taught and when women can get an abortion (almost never.) There are measures to strip union protections from public employees, keep transgender children and their parents from choosing to seek medical treatment, prevent universities from discussing diversity or inclusion and ban talk of gender identity or sexuality in schools all the way through 12th grade.

Students at New College in Sarasota, Florida, conducted their own, alternative commencement in response to Governor DeSantis’ takeover of the board of the small, progressive public college. He replaced board members who believed in the college’s mission of a self-directed liberal education with new board members who were allied with the DeSantis brand of Christian nationalism.The board replaced the president of the college—an academic—with a rightwing politician who has no qualifications for the position.

In this post, which appears on Tumblr, a New College graduate explained what is happening. The commencement speaker invited by the new regime was Scott Atlas, Trump’s coronavirus advisor (who is not an epidemiologist). The students invited their own speaker, Neil Gaiman, a Bard College professor, whom you will see if you open the link.

everentropy writes:

Hi, I’m a New College alum. I have been following this closely, so I can give you a run-down…Background: New College of Florida is a small liberal arts college in Sarasota. It has around 800 students, and probably less next year. It does not have grades, it instead has narrative evaluations. There are no required classes beyond what is legally required for Common Core. As an Honors College, everyone is required to do an undergraduate thesis and defend it in front of a Baccalaureate Committee. I studied Environmental Science and I was able to create my own major (known as an Area of Concentration). I even designed an Independent Study Project that went in-depth on cholera.

As for what is happening now, the simple answer is that Governor DeSantis appointed a bunch of conservatives to the Board of Trustees (or BoT). One of these is Chris Rufo, the guy behind the CRT scare. They have been trying to systematically tear down the college. This has included things like firing the president and trying to change the school’s curriculum and entrance requirements, with a conservative evangelical Christian angle.

For a more in-depth answer, here is a list of things they have done or are currently planning on doing. (i had it under a readmore but it looks like that fucks up the formatting) They fired the previous president, even though she was ACTUALLY solving many of the issues including enrollment and bringing in donors. By every measure she was doing a great job. Of course, you can’t hire DeSantis’s cronies if someone else is in the position! They fired a queer librarian a week before finals. They denied five professors tenure, including two from the “woke” specialization of… organic chemistry. They are currently trying to change the school mascot. It is, according to the student government constitution { }, AKA the null set. They want a mascot to be more marketable, not because students are asking for it. Most insultingly, they sent out a survey asking for students’ “opinions” and one of the options they had was the Conquistadores. It’s 2023, it’s hilariously out of touch. They removed the “DEI Department”. Which didn’t exist. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion was part of the admissions and outreach department. New College isn’t even big enough to have staff dedicated to that. They couldn’t even fire anyone so they made a stupid show of “eliminating it” that did nothing. They are trying to use the CLT, a Christian-based entrance exam, instead of the SAT. (Several alums have started adding an I after the CL.) Also, the formerly student-run cafe is now being run by a local business that has put (misspelled) bible verses on the cups. They want to have a “classics” education, and require students to take specific courses. New College already teaches from “the greats” for many classes, but they don’t actually know what the New College curriculum is. It will also almost certainly be from a Christian, western perspective, rather than the broader one that students currently get. New College teaches you HOW to think, it doesn’t tell you to think a specific way.

They are trying to put in both a baseball and basketball team. That doesn’t sound that bad on the surface but New College has barely enough students for ONE team, and that would have to be co-ed. It’s a school of around 800 students. (Probably less next year). There’s no way they qualify for competitive sports. It’s a grift meant to give positions to friends of the BoT through cronyism. I genuinely feel sorry for any student transferring because they were promised a sports career.

Also, New College doesn’t have sports and is proud of that fact. It’s an attempt to ruin our culture by attracting students that didn’t come here solely for learning. We even have a motto that our football team is “undefeated” (because we don’t have one). They also want to make this a pipeline for students from Inspiration Academy specifically and are trying to make it easier to enter. Finally, the cherry on top of the cake, and the reason that Mr. Gaiman gave this speech in the first place, is that they asked Scott Atlas to be speaker for commencement. He was one of the members of former President Trump’s COVID taskforce and actively downplayed the threat of COVID. His speech was not about how students have a bright future and how they will do great things. No, it was full of self-congratulations, name-dropping, and lies about COVID. If I hadn’t known what it was I would never guessed that it was a commencement speech. The only thing even remotely about the students was about standing up for your beliefs, even when people tell you you’re wrong. The people watching literally turned their backs on him and started chanting “Wrap it up!” which was pretty funny honestly. I enjoyed that. I’m pretty sure most people who attended did so to protest him. Also, the current president of the college didn’t make a speech or hand out diplomas, probably because he knew how disliked he is. Make no mistake, this is meant to be a test case. And when they are done here they will move on to other colleges, and conservatives will bring this to other states as well. That’s why resisting is so important. I will say a bright spot in all of this is the outpouring of support we have received. Thank you everyone who has reblogged this with a message of support. We appreciate it. Please feel free to message me if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to answer them.

#save new college#savenewcollege#new college of florida#chris rufo#scott atlas#ron desantis#wrap it up!#long post#ask to tag#I’m pretty sure I’m missing things#but yeah that’s most of it#it’s been EXHAUSTING#it’s only been a few months but it feels longer

Michael Hiltzik, columnist for the Los Angeles reviewed the debut of Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign on Twitter, accompanied by Elon Musk. DeSantis boasted about the glory of debate and free speech, which he has done his best to stifle in Florida. And he adamantly denied that there was any book banning in his state, despite the fact that PEN America says that Florida is number two in the most books banned, behind Texas. The guy rules Florida with an iron hand, suppressing the teaching of history he doesn’t like, demonizing drag queens and anything LGBT, and encouraging vigilante censorship.

Column: Ron DeSantis and Elon Musk give us a preview of the chaos of a DeSantis presidency

The SpaceX Starship

Elon Musk hosted Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Twitter for DeSantis’ announcement of his presidential candidacy. It went about as well as the April 20 launch of a rocket by Musk’s SpaceX, which ended in an explosion that destroyed the spacecraft.

(Patrick T. Fallon / AFP via Getty Images)


I was taking my customary siesta Wednesday afternoon when I was jolted awake by the sound of a truck straining to go uphill. Come to discover that I had my computer tuned to Elon Musk’s Twitter, where Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was struggling to get out the official announcement of his candidacy for president.

The noise turned out to be Musk trying to get the thing to work in real time, amid feedback, weird musical interludes and long stretches of silence. Scheduled to start at 3 p.m. Pacific time, it finally got going on Twitter Spaces, an audio-only application on the platform, about 18 minutes late. I listened, so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

As he struggled to resolve repeated glitches in Twitter Spaces, Musk and the moderator, a Musk acolyte named David Sacks, kept trying to assert that the technical screw-up was, in fact, a triumph brought about by the large audience. (Sacks claimed that more than 300,000 users had logged in.) “We are melting the servers, which is a good sign,” Sacks said early on.

This reminded many listeners of the claim by SpaceX, another Musk venture, that its April 20 launch of a prototype rocket, which ended with the vehicle exploding in flight four minutes after lift-off, was a success. Never mind that the launch destroyed the launchpad, showered a neighboring community with debris and prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to mount a major investigation.

Once it got underway, the Twitter event unfolded as a love fest between DeSantis and Musk. The general theme was what my mother used to describe as “I like me, who do you like?”

Musk and DeSantis praised each other for their dedication to free speech, and Sacks brought on several right-wing sophists to add their voices. They included Jay Bhattacharya, one of the drafters of the Great Barrington Declaration, which, as I reported this week, advocated letting the COVID virus run rampant through the population in quest of the elusive goal of “herd immunity” — at the cost (thus far) of more than 1.13 million American lives.

Another was Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), whose claim to fame on a national scale was issuing a Christmas tweet in 2021 showing himself, his wife and their five kids brandishing assault weapons. “Santa, pls bring ammo,” the tweet read. (In December 2021, there were 39 mass shootings in the U.S., taking 36 lives and wounding 160.)

DeSantis said Florida was safer than blue-state cities, where “you got kids more likely to get shot than to receive a first-class education.” A reminder: One of the worst school shootings in American history took place in Parkland, Fla., in February 2018, when 17 people were killed and 17 injured. In April, DeSantis signed a law allowing Floridians to carry guns without a permit.

It would be wrong to say there weren’t some lighthearted moments during the Twitter event. Unfortunately for DeSantis, the best joke came from President Biden: While Musk was struggling to get the event launched, Biden posted a tweet that read, “This link works,” pointing to a fund-raising site for the Biden-Harris campaign.

If you were looking for policy prescriptions from the freshly minted candidate, you didn’t hear anything new. Put it this way: If you were at a party where you had to down a shot of whiskey every time DeSantis uttered the word “woke,” you were reduced to insensibility within ten or twenty minutes. If the drinking game included a shot when DeSantis took a shot at “the legacy media,” you may have needed to get your stomach pumped.

Other than that, it was a festival of cynical lies and rank hypocrisies uttered by DeSantis.

He spoke up for free speech and open debate, for instance. “People should be exposed to different viewpoints,” he said. “You can’t have a free society unless we have the freedom to debate the most important issues that are affecting our civilization.”

This is the guy who has waged a ferocious battle with Walt Disney Co. because Disney had spoken out against his “Don’t Say Gay” law, which stifles the teaching of gender issues in the schools.

When Sacks primed him with a question about the fight with Disney, DeSantis replied, “We believe jamming gender ideology in elementary school is wrong; Disney obviously supported injecting gender ideology in elementary school.” He added that Disney’s “corporate culture had really been outed as trying to inject matters of sex into the programming for the youth.” One doesn’t have to be a fan of Disney to see that as fatuous claptrap.

DeSantis also dismissed accusations that Florida is a hotbed of book-banning as “a hoax.” All his administration has done, he said, has been “to empower parents with the ability to review the curriculum, to know what books are being used in school.” That’s one way of looking at it.

The right way is to observe that he’s empowered a tiny cadre of reactionary activists to force books they don’t like off the shelves of Florida schools. As the Washington Post reported Wednesday, a majority of the complaints about schoolbooks nationwide have come from just 11 complainants. Florida ranks second among the states in the number of schoolbook challenges, after Texas.

By the way, one of the Republican toadies DeSantis appointed to the board created to oversee Disney’s development district (as part of his retaliation against the company) is Bridget Ziegler, co-founder of the right-wing censorship-happy organization Moms for Liberty.

When Bhattacharya came online, DeSantis took the opportunity to boast about his success against the COVID pandemic. The truth is that Florida’s record is one of abject, lethal failure. Florida’s COVID death rate of 411 per 100,000 population is the 10th worst in the nation. DeSantis has appointed Bhattacharya to a state panel investigating federal COVID policy.

DeSantis claimed to have based his COVID policies on his determination to “look at the data…. There was a concerted effort to try to stifle dissent.” This can only be interpreted as some kind of gag. DeSantis installed a COVID crackpot, Joseph Ladapo, as Florida’s surgeon general.

Ladapo has promoted useless anti-COVID nostrums such as ivermectin, and counseled against the COVID vaccines. “Looking at the data”? As the Tampa Bay Times has reported, based on official state documents, Ladapo deliberately removed data from an official state report on the vaccines that contradicted his claim that the vaccines were unsafe for young men; in fact, studies show that the vaccines are far safer for them than being infected by the virus.

The event ended with a paean by Musk and DeSantis to cryptocurrency, which is tantamount to enticing innocent small investors into immolating their nest eggs in a scam.

“We should do it again,” DeSantis said in closing the feed. “We’ll make sure that we come back and do it again. This is a great platform.”

We shall see. The next DeSantis appearance on Twitter could be just as buggy, or worse. All that we can be sure of is that whatever happens, Elon Musk will deem it a great success.

The mainstream media has given ample coverage to the likelihood that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is likely to announce his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president in the next week. The stories about him treat him as a normal elected officials. They do not reference his multiple efforts to censor ideas and people he doesn’t like; to ban teaching ideas he doesn’t like; to ban textbooks that include ideas he disagrees with; to persecute drag queens and gay people. The American people need to know who he is. DeSantis’ regime of censorship is a pathetic attempt by pasty-faced cowards to dumb down the students of Florida. They can’t succeed because everyone has access to the Internet and television, where they will learn about the lies the state is teaching them.

Scott Maxwell is a regular columnist for the Orlando Sentinel. He is fearless. In this post, he writes about Governor Ron DeSantis’ purge of knowledge he doesn’t like.

The headlines are as abundant as they are dystopian:

“Florida rejects, amends many social studies textbooks”

“An Entire Florida School District Has Banned a Kids’ Book on Segregation”

“Florida bans more than 40% of math books after review”

“350+ Books Banned in Florida School Districts Since Last July”

A knowledge purge is underway in Florida. The targets: History lessons that politicians want hidden. Perspectives that make parents uncomfortable. Truths that ideologues find inconvenient.

Basically, we have people who want to control the narrative. And they think it’s easier to do that if kids don’t know all the facts.

Now, it’s hard to get your hands around both the scope and the specifics of this purge, because education officials are censoring so much and revealing so little.

In the latest salvo, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ education department rejected 35 different social studies books — more than a third of all they reviewed.
Florida rejects some social studies books, forces ‘Take a Knee’ out of one

But to justify their actions, they released snippets from only six of the books they shunned or ordered altered. So you don’t have much to go on.
But let’s look at one of those six examples. It’s from an elementary school textbook that teaches children about patriotism.

DeSantis staffers approved passages that instructed students to learn the Pledge of Allegiance and encouraged parents to stress the significance of the national anthem. But they did not want kids hearing why they might see some Americans, especially athletes on TV, take a knee during the anthem.

Specifically, the Florida Department of Education ordered the textbook to remove a section that suggested parents — not teachers, mind you — use that lesson on patriotic traditions “as an opportunity to talk about why some citizens are choosing to ‘Take a Knee’ to protest police brutality and racism.” DeSantis staffers ordered that suggestion stricken.

A popular talking point for people who dislike athletes taking a knee is to describe them as “anti-American,” “anti-cop” or “unpatriotic.” And it’s easier to peddle that narrative if students don’t hear why the players themselves say they’re doing what they are.

Personally, I think there’s valid debate over taking a knee. I can see why some players would. I can see why many people would dislike them doing so. It’s not really that hard to understand the divide — if you listen to what people on both sides are saying.
But the new Florida model of education doesn’t want to share all sides. The censors say kids aren’t ready for these discussions. Really, though, it’s the adults who are scared their kids might hear a different perspective. They’re the snowflakes.

The DeSantis censors also axed a section about Black Lives Matter from a middle school textbook that presented both pro and con perspectives on the social movement. The passage described the killing of George Floyd, explained that social media gave rise to civic activism and then gave a brief explanation of why some people supported Black Lives Matter and an even lengthier description of why others opposed it.DeSantis’ education staffers ordered the entire section removed.

At least one of the passages DeSantis staffers removed looks justifiably flagged. It’s a section from a middle-school book that attempts to teach students what a socialist form of government is.
The first part does a fine job explaining that, in a socialist society, the government controls much of the means of production, but then says: “It keeps things nice and even and without unnecessary waste.” Um, what? That seems more like a pom-pom for socialism — and a pretty skewed one at that — than a civics lesson. Yank it out.

But here’s the problem: DeSantis staffers shared a reworked version of the textbook that met their approval. It removed the word “socialism” altogether, replacing it with “planned economies.”
I’m no fan of socialism, but I’d sure like students to have a correct understanding of what it is. Why? Because the vast majority of adults who scream about socialism absolutely do not. They somehow believe anything government-funded is “socialism” … and then turn into Cletus the Slack-jawed Yokel when you ask them if that means Medicare and highways are socialist as well.

I’d love to see students better informed than these adults. But that seems to be the last thing the grown-ups want.

Last year, before state officials were rejecting social studies textbooks, they were flagging math books for being allegedly too woke. A handful of people apparently believed liberal boogeymen had infiltrated the nation’s algebra-instructional complex. And the handful got their way.

Some of this censorship is silly, political theater. Some is a serious effort to indoctrinate.

One publisher, Penguin Randomhouse, sued the Escambia County school district last week over its book-banning. Other publishers agree to comply with whatever censorship orders they’re given as they’re more interested in selling textbooks than standing on any sort of educational principles.

Then there are all the school library books being banned in historic numbers, thanks to the Republican-led Legislature’s new book-banning bill — books about everything from the civil rights movement to nontraditional families.

School book challenges, already on rise, could escalate in Florida

The Lake County school district pulled a picture book about the true story of two male penguins in Central Park Zoo who raised a chick after the zookeeper gave them an egg. A Panhandle district removed a book about school segregation in the 1950s with the New Republic reporting the district concluded the subject matter was “difficult for elementary students to comprehend.”

I don’t think kids are the problem here. In fact, the local banning crusades are sometimes led by just one or two adults who not only want to shelter their own kids from ideas they find scary but want to keep books away from everyone else’s kids at school as well.

I thought of all this book-banning and history-censoring while attending a recent session on the rise of antisemitism at the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida. One panelist said the best way to combat hatred, intolerance and ignorance is to ensure children hear unvarnished truths. He described it as “The criticality of giving truth to our kids.”

The leader of a Holocaust Center in South Florida made a similar point recently stressing: “The Holocaust, it didn’t start with guns and death camps. It started with words.”

Well, words are precisely what Florida is trying to ban, censor and distort. In unprecedented fashion.

The editorial boards of the Orlando Sentinel and the South Florida Sun Sentinel published this commentary on Governor DeSantis’ campaign to demonize being “woke.” What does it mean to be woke? It means being aware of systemic injustice. Did systemic injustices occur in the past? Yes. Do they occur now? Yes. Should we banish teaching or learning about systemic injustices, as DeSantis demands? No. That would mean teaching lies. Can we blame teachers or schools for the drop in scores on NAEP (the National Assessment of Educational Progress) when politicians like DeSantis require teachers to teach their students lies?

The editorial says it’s good to be woke:

Have you noticed? Gov. Ron DeSantis doesn’t smile enough. His brand is anger, especially at anything he can ridicule as “woke.”

Disney is “woke.” Diversity is “woke.” His obsession to cleanse Florida classrooms of discussions of racism was the “Stop W.O.K.E. Act.”

He took over New College of Florida because it was “woke.” He suspended Tampa State Attorney Andrew Warren because his policies were “woke.”
Florida “is where woke goes to die,” he says. This four-letter word has lost much of its punch, purely from overuse.

But it really doesn’t matter whether people have any idea of what “woke” means — just that it sounds bad.

But what does it mean, really?

‘Systemic injustices’

As good an answer as any came from DeSantis’ general counsel, under questioning from Warren’s attorney in federal court.

“The belief there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them,” lawyer Ryan Newman replied, adding that DeSantis doesn’t share that belief.

He doesn’t? No society is without injustices. To pretend that ours is is ludicrous.

The term “woke” originated in Black culture almost a century ago. According to the Legal Defense Fund, it became an “in-group signal urging Black people to be aware of the systems that harm and otherwise put us at a disadvantage.”

Those are precisely the systems that DeSantis pretends don’t exist, and that he doesn’t want Florida schoolchildren and college students to learn anything about. His hijacking of the word “woke” is ironic, to say the least.

Obnoxious objectives

His objectives, like that of copycat Republican politicians, are threefold. One is to cater to bigoted and resentful white voters. Donald J. Trump taught them the effectiveness of that. No. 2: Breed a generation of future voters who will have learned nothing about racism’s history or continuing consequences.

The third objective, not quite so transparent but equally pernicious, is to desensitize the nation’s courts to systemic economic and political injustices, many of which afflict poor white people just as much as Black people. The Florida Supreme Court bought into this when it purged diversity guidelines from the Florida Bar’s continuing education criteria.

There hasn’t been such a cynical disinformation campaign since the Daughters of the Confederacy set out more than a century ago to reinvent the Civil War and Reconstruction. In that distorted looking glass, slavery had nothing to do with the war; it was the South fighting for freedom and the North fighting against it. That’s how children were to be taught.

Writing in The New York Times, Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. described how the Daughters suppressed textbooks to the extent of rejecting any that described slaveholders as cruel. Slavery, wrote the Daughters’ historian, “was an education that taught the negro self-control, obedience and perseverance.”

“Undertaken by apologists for the former Confederacy with an energy and alacrity that was astonishing in its vehemence and reach, in an era defined by print culture, politicians and amateur historians joined forces to police the historical profession,” Gates wrote. “The so-called Lost Cause movement was, in effect, a take-no-prisoners social media war.”

The racism didn’t go away when the South lost the war and slaves were freed. It fostered sharecropping — slavery by another means. It rationalized Jim Crow laws, lynchings, inferior schools and a denial of the right to vote that persisted until 1965. It led to federal housing policies that confined Black people to urban ghettos. It was evident when Social Security initially excluded domestic and farm workers on the fiction that it would be too difficult to collect the taxes.

It remains glaring today in the statistic that Black Americans, who account for 13% of the population, are 27% of the people shot and killed by police. It was evident when the Tennessee House of Representatives expelled two Black members over a gun violence protest in their chamber, but not the Caucasian legislator who protested with them. It is apparent in the increasing re-segregation of public schools; profound racial disparities in income, health and mortality; and the persistence of fair housing and fair employment violations.

Exposure is essential

The remedy for injustice begins with exposure. It is essential. To conceal it is to be complicit in the injustice.

To teach American history through rose-colored glasses, as DeSantis intends, is to ignore the heroism and sacrifices that every generation has made toward fulfilling the belief that “all men are created equal.” That so many Americans have risen so often to that challenge speaks well of our nation, not poorly.

A federal judge has temporarily blocked one of DeSantis’ schemes — the law allowing educators and private businesses to be sued for making students and employees feel guilty about racism — but the destruction of the schools and universities goes on.

It’s up to the voters whether that continues. It’s better to be “woke” than silent any day.

The Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board includes Editor-in-Chief Julie , Opinion Editor Krys Fluker and Viewpoints Editor Jay Reddick. The Sun Sentinel Editorial Board consists of Editorial Page Editor Steve Bousquet, Deputy Editorial Page Editor Dan Sweeney, and Anderson. Send letters to

© 2023 Orlando Sentinel

When Ron DeSantis held a press conference to celebrate his latest attacks on academic freedom, he sneeringly said, “If you want to study gender ideology, go to Berkeley,” because universities in Florida will focus on workforce preparation (which he thinks is a “classical education,” a sure sign that he never had one).

California Governor Gavin Newsom enjoys trading punches with DeSantis, and he sent out this reply:

Diane –

Ron DeSantis says if people want to study “niche subjects” they should go to Berkeley, but down in Florida they are going to focus on “the basics.”

His supporters chuckled. They thought it was a sick burn.

But some education is in order:

Six of the top ten public universities are located in California and the most popular majors at UC Berkeley are Cellular Biology, Computer Science, and Quantitative Economics.

That’s Math, Science and Technology.

It also probably explains why California outperforms Florida in all of those categories while having ten times the number of biotech companies as Florida and three times as many tech jobs as Florida.

But at least DeSantis got some laughs for his flailing presidential campaign…

Team Newsom