Archives for category: DeSantis

Florida passed legislation to offer vouchers to every student in the state, regardless of their income. Rich and poor are eligible for state largesse. Florida joins five other states with universal vouchers: West Virginia, Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa and Utah.

The Education Law Center predicted last month that the expansion of vouchers to all students, rich and poor, would cost the state at least $4 billion in the first year. Half of that amount would be a bonanza for students already in private schools.

Perhaps you remember the battle cry for vouchers over the past three decades: “vouchers will save poor children from failing public schools.” We now know that every part of this plea was mistaken. Vouchers do not produce academic gains for the poor children who transfer from public schools to private schools that accept them.

The overwhelming majority of recent, long-term studies report that vouchers have a negative effect on low-income children; most return to their public schools in need of remediation.

In state after state, most vouchers are claimed by students who never attended public schools. 75-80% of voucher recipients were already enrolled in private schools; their families are not poor.

The universal voucher program is a subsidy for the rich, at the expense of public schools.

The principal of the Classical Charter School in Tallahassee was told to resign or be fired after a parent complained that a sixth grade art class saw a “pornographic” photograph of a sculpture. It was a picture of Michelangelo’s masterpiece “David.” Considered one of the greatest sculptures in the world, “David” is a massive piece of marble that is the centerpiece of the Accademia Gallery of Florence (Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze) in Florence, Italy.

The Tallahassee Classical Charter School follows the Hillsdale College curriculum, supposedly based on the classics. The “David” is certainly a great classical work of art.

Dan Kois of Slate interviewed the chairman of the school’s board, Barney Bishop III. This is a small excerpt. Kois’s questions are in bold.

I tend to think of a classical education as being the mode in the 17th, 18th century, where you study the Greeks and Romans, and Western civilization is central. A tutor or teacher is the expert, and that teacher drives the curriculum. You’re describing something where it seems the parents drive the curriculum. How does your classical education differ from the classical education as I think of it?

What kind of question is that, Dan? I don’t know how they taught in the 17th, 18th century, and neither do you. You live in New York?


You’ve got a 212 number. That’s New York.

I lived in New York when I got the cellphone, many years ago. Now I live in Virginia.

Well, we’re Florida, OK? Parents will decide. Parents are the ones who are going to drive the education system here in Florida. The governor said that, and we’re with the governor. Parents don’t decide what is taught. But parents know what that curriculum is. And parents are entitled to know anytime their child is being taught a controversial topic and picture.

Parents choose this school because they want a certain kind of education. We’re not gonna have courses from the College Board. We’re not gonna teach 1619 or CRT crap. I know they do all that up in Virginia. The rights of parents, that trumps the rights of kids. Teachers are the experts? Teachers have all the knowledge? Are you kidding me? I know lots of teachers that are very good, but to suggest they are the authorities, you’re on better drugs than me.

Please read the full interview.

I would like to give credit for the meme below. I found it on the Twitter feed of “Trump is Putin’s Puppet.” The person who posted it said was time to add Art to the list of bans.

Under legislation endorsed today by the Republican supermajority in the Florida legislature, the state will underwrite vouchers for every student in the state, regardless of income. Students in private schools, students who never attended public schools will get a subsidy from the state.

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Senate gave final approval Thursday to a bill creating universal school vouchers, and sent it to Gov. Ron DeSantis for his expected approval.

The Senate voted 26-12 along party lines to approve the bill (HB 1).

Republican state lawmakers, who hold a supermajority in the Legislature, want to open state voucher programs that currently provide scholarships to more than 252,000 children with disabilities or from low-income families to all of the 2.9 million school-age children in Florida, with an estimated cost ranging from $210 million to $4 billion in the first year.

Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples called it “one of the most transformative bills the Legislature has ever dealt with….”

But opponents raised concerns about sweeping money out of the public school system and subsidizing private education, in some cases for children of wealthy parents.

“There is no money following the child like we hear over and over again because they were never in public school,” said Sen. Tracie Davis, D-Jacksonville. “You can’t ever follow something that was never in public school.”

Private schools don’t follow the same academic standards as public schools and can set their own curriculum, they said, pointing out that they could be teaching neo-Nazism and the state couldn’t do anything to stop them.

Nor do they have to meet the same safety requirements as charter and public schools must do.

The state does not generally regulate private schools, so there are no requirements that teachers have college degrees or for standardized testing to grade the quality of the schools.

Private schools also don’t have to follow the same safety requirements as charter and public schools.
Democrats also objected to taxpayer dollars being sent to religious schools. About three out of four schools that receive vouchers are religious in nature.

“House Bill 1 further erodes the separation of church and state. Taxpayers are paying for Floridians to discriminate,” the League of Women Voters of Florida tweeted.

We have been waiting for Trump to begin attacking DeSantis. Trump released a statement today in which he tore down DeSantis, hitting him from the left and the right.

Trump’s line of attack:

DeSantis is an “average governor,” with no big accomplishments.

DeSantis has proposed “massive cuts in Social Security and Medicare.”

DeSantis was terrible on COVID, including lockdowns. Yet Florida had high rates of COVID and COVID deaths.

On crime, Florida is one of the worst in the nation.

On education, Florida compares poorly to other states.

DeSantis leads the nation in Public Relations.

The Miami Herald editorial board published the following editorial in defense of free speech. It was cross posted in The Orlando Sentinel.

Last week, Florida’s government refused to grant permission to the League of Women Voters to hold a rally on the steps of the Old Capitol in Tallahassee, according to a ProPublica story. The group was told that, under a DeSantis administration rule, its rally needed to be sponsored by a state agency.

A thwarted rally during the legislative session may not seem like it warrants a ton of attention in the torrent of bad ideas pouring out of Tallahassee, but this is not small; it’s one more way the state is tightening its chokehold on free speech in Florida.

The league said it was denied permission by the Florida Department of Management Services under a rule that went into effect March 1 that says the use of the space must be “consistent with the Agency’s official purposes.”

In other words, if it isn’t part of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ anti-woke agenda or some other Republican cause, you need not apply.

The supposed reason is to protect public safety and make sure state workers and officials can do their jobs. Funny how, in all these years, that hasn’t been an issue. The area around the state Capitol has long been the site of all sorts of demonstrations, rallies and marches. But suddenly, that’s a problem.

Call us crazy, but could it have something to do with the perception that the League is left-leaning? Last year, a local official in Lake County, Illinois, called League members there “partisan hags” in a Facebook posting, apparently because he thought their debate formats favored Democrats. He later apologized — for the “hag” part, anyway.

In Florida, the League has taken an openly adversarial stance against the DeSantis administration in at least one instance. The group went to court to fight a 2021 voting law, with a judge striking down several provisions on grounds they were discriminatory. The state is appealing.

The change in rules for rallies — an excuse to restrict speech — isn’t happening in a vacuum. We’ve already had the effort by the Republican Legislature to stop discussion of systemic racism at universities and in workplace training, the smackdown of Disney for daring to oppose the governor’s “Don’t say gay” law on sexual orientation and gender identity instruction in schools and a bill to make it easier to sue for defamation that would have a chilling effect on public discourse.

In this latest iteration, the government is using state rules and red tape to stop dissent from being heard. What are lawmakers so afraid of?

And while the League managed to hold its event on a plaza nearby and discussed the muzzling of free speech, that’s poor consolation. Lawmakers need to be open to hearing dissent if they are truly representing the will of the people — and not just the will of one man.

This editorial was published by the Miami Herald. Contact us at
© 2023 Orlando Sentinel

Florida’s state board of education voted to expand its ban on any mention of LGBT topics through 12th grade, effectively censoring the topic for all grades. This move is intended to protect the rights of parents who don’t want their children to learn that gay people exist, but it is a slap in the face to gay families in Florida, as well as to people who are comfortable with discussions of reality.

The DeSantis administration next month could effectively bar all public school teachers from providing classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity, a move that would expand Florida’s controversial 2022 law and go even further than the legislation Republican lawmakers are pushing in Tallahassee this spring.

A proposed State Board of Education rule, scheduled for a vote next month, says teachers in grades 4 to 12 “shall not intentionally provide classroom instruction” on either topic, expanding the prohibition in last year’s law that critics dubbed “don’t say gay.” Teachers who violate the rule could face suspension or revocation of their teaching licenses.

Equality Florida, the state’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group, views the suggested rule as part of “larger, disturbing trend” where Florida’s Republican leaders seek to use “every lever of government to censor conversations about LGBTQ people,” said Brandon Wolf, the group’s spokesman.

The goal, he said, seems to be to paint LGBTQ people as “wrong,” Wolf said, “or that we should be written out of society.”

Governor Ron DeSantis grabbed control of Florida’s only progressive public college—New College—and installed the hard-right former State Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran as its president. The DeSantis-controlled board of trustees voted to award Corcoran nearly $1 million in annual compensation, then struggled to find the money to pay for it. Students and faculty have protested the takeover, but they have been ignored. Corcoran intends to turn New College into the Hillsdale of Florida (Hillsdale being an evangelical Christian college in Michigan beloved by rightwingers).

The Tampa Bay Tribune writes:

New College of Florida has finally found a way to pay Richard Corcoran, who took over as interim president after the school’s board of trustees fired his predecessor in January.

At a Friday meeting of the New College Foundation, a nonprofit that supports the school financially, vice chairperson Dan Stults explained that the school will exploit a loophole in state law that allows them to use mostly public funds to cover Corcoran’s expenses until June 30, when the 2022 fiscal year ends.

For now, that takes the pressure off the foundation to come up with additional funds to cover the president’s salary. The board has not arrived at a plan to cover Corcoran’s nearly $1 million annual compensation package.

Corcoran, a former state education commissioner, receives a base salary of $699,000 — more than double that of his predecessor Patricia Okker and making him the third-highest-paid president among Florida’s public universities, not including bonuses and other stipends.

Under Florida law, only $200,000 of a university president’s salary can come from state funds. The rest typically comes from private donors through the school’s foundation.

However, state law does not restrict how the $200,000 state-funded portion must be allocated throughout the year. That allows New College to use the entire amount to cover most of Corcoran’s compensation until the end of the fiscal year.

Corcoran’s compensation from February through June totals approximately $265,000, Stults said.

That leaves just $65,000 to be covered by the foundation, which will come from a pool of funding that is not already earmarked for certain scholarships or other uses.

When the board of trustees approved Corcoran’s contract in February, board chairperson Debra Jenks said that the foundation has the money to cover Corcoran’s compensation, but did not identify where the additional funds would come from.

Future funding of the foundation has come into question, as many current New College donors have signaled their intention to withhold more than $29 million in future donations after Gov. Ron DeSantis began transforming the school’s leadership, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.

Open the link to read about the donors who are withholding funds, and the effort by other colleges to recruit students from New College.

Florida legislators and Governor DeSantis are so pleased with the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, that they plan to expand it. The original law prohibited any discussion of sexuality and gender identity in grades K-3. The new law will prohibit such discussions in grades K-8. So, the state will cement and expand their combination of hate and censorship. Children of gay parents will be forbidden to mention their family.

TIME magazine reported:

Republican lawmakers in Florida appear likely to expand provisions in the Parental Rights in Education Act, or so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Law with a host of new restrictions on what teachers can and cannot say in their classrooms about gender, sex, and sexual orientation.

Bills currently being debated in the Florida state House would make it a statewide school policy to define sex as “an immutable biological trait.” Teachers would be banned from addressing students by pronouns that differ from those they were assigned at birth. Staff would also be unable to share their own preferred pronouns if they do not “correspond to his or her sex.”

The bills would also heavily restrict in-school discussions about sexual orientation or gender identity until ninth grade when most students are 14 or 15. The current “Don’t Say Gay” law bans such discussions through third grade.

Open the link to read on.

Ron DeSantis is trying to be the Anthony Comstock of the 21st century. Do you know who Comstock was? He was the most notorious crusader against “vice” in the United States of his era or any other era. Comstock was responsible for the destruction of tens of thousands of books that he considered lewd, including marriage manuals. He was responsible for criminalizing the mailing of anything that was lewd or lascivious, anything that would cause abortions, anything that would encourage contraception. The Comstock Law, passed in 1873, may be revived if a Trump judge in Amarillo, Texas, bans the mailing of abortion pills in the next few days or weeks.

Anthony Comstock (March 7, 1844 – September 21, 1915) was an anti-vice activist, United States Postal Inspector, and secretary of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice (NYSSV), who was dedicated to upholding Christian morality. He opposed obscene literature, abortion, contraception, gambling, prostitution, and patent medicine.

Like Comstock, DeSantis wants to make a national reputation by crusading against lewd books, abortion, and—unknown in Comstock’s day—drag queens. Comstock would have reacted to drag queens just like DeSantis: with horror and revulsion and a passion to criminalize them. Comstock wanted to control people’s personal decisions; so does DeSantis.

In another display of DeSantis’s growing zeal for control of everyone’s life, the state of Florida threatened to take away the liquor license of a major hotel that permitted drag shows where parents brought children with them. DeSantis sent an undercover police unit to watch the show when it opened at the Plaza Live in Orlando to determine whether there were any minors in the audience and whether they were exposed to lewd content; the investigators reported that there were minors, they were accompanied by their parents, and the show didn’t contain any lascivious content. No matter: the state is beginning proceedings to withdraw the establishment’s liquor license, which will likely close it down.

What about “parental rights”? Do parents no longer have the right to decide whether their minor children are mature enough to see a man dressed in women’s clothes? Will they also be forbidden to take their children to see the films starring Dustin Hoffman in “Tootsie” or Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis in “Some Like It Hot”?

Does DeSantis know that men traditionally played women’s roles in Shakespeare plays and other live shows when women were not allowed to act in public? What drives his panic about anything gay?

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration is seeking to revoke the Hyatt Regency Miami’s liquor license because one of its facilities hosted a Christmas-themed drag queen show in which the state claimed minors were present.

The event — “A Drag Queen Christmas” — was held on Dec. 27 at the James L. Knight Center, a 4,500-seat auditorium affiliated with the hotel that typically hosts concerts, graduation ceremonies and other events.

The December show was hosted by Nina West, a star from the reality show “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” and minors were required to be accompanied by an adult to attend.

In a 17-page administrative complaint, state regulators said the venue’s admission policies allowed minors to attend the event and as a result, they were exposed to performers who were “wearing sexually suggestive clothing and prosthetic female genitalia.”

“The nature of the show’s performances, particularly when conducted in the presence of young children, corrupts the public morals and outrages the sense of public decency,” according to the complaint, filed by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Sometimes, administrative complaints such as the one filed Tuesday can take more than year to resolve.

The revocation of a license is a severe penalty that is one of several possible sanctions the state could issue for violations. The state filed a nearly identical administrative complaint last August against a Miami restaurant, R House, over drag queen weekend brunch. That case remains open and the bar is still operating and serving liquor.

In December, state regulators were also scrutinizing events across the state, including Fort Lauderdale, over complaints against the same holiday show held at the Hyatt.

The decision to target the Hyatt Regency Miami on Tuesday comes as the DeSantis administration and the Republican-led Legislature intensify the crackdown on drag queen shows that allow minors in the audience.

Read more at:

On the same show in Orlando:

When the historic Plaza Live theater in Orlando hosted an event last December called “A Drag Queen Christmas,” the show drew a full house, noisy street demonstrators — and a small squad of undercover state agents there to document whether children were being exposed to sights that ran afoul of Florida’s decency law.

The Dec. 28 performance featured campy skits like “Screwdolph the Red-Nippled Man Deer” and shimmying, bare-chested men who wouldn’t have been out of place at a Madonna concert. Also a hip thrust or two, similar to what is sometimes indulged in by NFL players after a touchdown. All of it was dutifully recorded by the undercover agents on state-issued iPhones.

But while the agents took photos of three minors at the Orlando drag show — who appeared to be accompanied by adults — they acknowledged that nothing indecent had happened on stage, according to an incident report obtained exclusively by the Miami Herald.

“Besides some of the outfits being provocative (bikinis and short shorts), agents did not witness any lewd acts such as exposure of genital organs,” the brief report stated. “The performers did not have any physical contact while performing to the rhythm of the music with any patrons.”

Still, the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation proceeded to file a complaint against the nonprofit that runs Plaza Live, claiming the venue had illegally exposed children to sexual content. The complaint, issued Feb. 3, seeks to strip the small, nonprofit theater of its liquor license — a serious blow that would likely put it out of business.

It’s all part of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ statewide crackdown on drag shows, which could escalate further as legislators draft new laws to tighten restrictions on venues that allow minors into those performances. DeSantis has said he believes “sexualized” drag shows are dangerous for kids.

The legislature also plans to restrict the pronouns that teachers use, regardless of their parents wishes.

Read more at:

Republican lawmakers say Florida school employees should not be allowed to call students by pronouns that differ from those given to them at birth — even in cases when a parent is OK with it. The idea is moving forward in proposed legislation that would also require every public K-12 school to have a policy that says it is “false” to ascribe to a person a pronoun that does not correspond to their assigned sex, which under the law would be defined as an “immutable, or unchanging, biological trait.” It is the latest salvo in the state’s ongoing battle over transgender rights in schools and society at large, as Gov. Ron DeSantis makes cultural issues a cornerstone of an expected presidential bid later this year.

DeSantis expects to win the Presidency by campaigning as the Biggest Prude in the nation.

Ron DeSantis: our Anthony Comstock.

Steven Singer, a teacher in Pennsylvania, cannot understand why the word “WOKE” has become a term of derision, when it means being aware of racial and social injustice. Who wants to erase our sense of right and wrong?

He explains:

“I advise everybody, be a little careful when they go along through there – best stay woke, keep their eyes open.”–Lead Belly“Scottsboro Boys”

How can you understand a problem if you are not allowed to name it?

How can you fight injustice if you are forbidden from learning its history and connection to the present moment?

These questions are at the heart of a well-financed war against a simple term – woke-ness.

Since the summer of 2020, oligarchs and their tools in the United States have been waging a disinformation campaign against that term – especially as it pertains to our schools.

Chiding, nagging, insinuating – you hear it constantly, usually with a sneer and wagging finger, but what does it really mean?

To hear certain governors, state legislators and TV pundits talk, you’d think it was the worst thing in the world. But it’s not that at all.

In its simplest form, being woke is just being alert to racial prejudice and discrimination.

That’s all – just knowing that these things exist and trying to recognize them when present.

I’m not sure what’s so controversial about that. If we all agree racism is bad, why is it undesirable to acknowledge it exists when it’s demonstrably there?

More specifically, being woke means focusing on intersectionality – how issues of race, class and gender overlap and interrelate with each other. It means practicing critical race theory – not the made up dog whistle conservatives use to describe anything they don’t like being taught in school, but the study of how racial bias is inherent in many Western social and legal systems. It means using the lens of Black feminism, queer theory and others to address structural inequality.

Again, why is that a bad thing? If we agree that prejudice is bad, we should want to avoid it in every way possible, and these are the primary tools that enable us to do so.

Our society is not new. We have history to show us how we got here and how these issues have most successfully been addressed in the past.

But these Regressives demand we ignore it all.

Shouldn’t we protect hard-fought advances in human rights? Shouldn’t we continue to strive for social justice and the ability of every citizen to freely participate in our democracy – especially in our public schools?…

As public school teachers, being woke is not a choice. It is a responsibility.

For we are the keepers of history, science and culture.

Who will teach the true history that for more than 400 years in excess of 15 million men, women and children were the victims of the transatlantic slave trade? Who will teach the true history of the fight against human bondage and the struggle for equal rights? Who will teach about women’s fight for suffrage, equal pay, and reproductive freedom? Who will teach about the struggle of the individual to affirm their own gender identity and sexual expression?

We, teachers, must help students understand what happened, what’s happening and why. And to do so we must protect concepts that emerged from decades of struggle against all forms of domination.

It must be us.

Please open the link and read the rest.

And stay WOKE.