Archives for category: Florida

This is one of the most startling stories you ever will read about political corruption in Florida. It was written by Ryan Grim for Intercept.

“The Villages” is a huge retirement community in Florida that votes Republican. The family that started it controls the community newspaper and pipes in FOX News to all public facilities. It plans to expand, and it raised property taxes by 25% to finance the expansion. This made many residents unhappy. A slate of elderly rebels ran to join the board that makes decisions. The rebels won. The developers (aka “The Family”) had to put down the rebellion. The developers are big contributors to Governor DeSantis.

By the end of the story, one of the rebels was in jail, and two were removed from office by the Governor. The tax hike went into effect, peace was restored, and the new development went forward.

Read it.

It begins:

THE TROUBLE BEGAN in 2019 when residents of The Villages were suddenly hit with a 25 percent hike in their property taxes. In the master-planned retirement community of 130,000 across Sumter, Lake, and Marion counties in central Florida, many are on fixed incomes. The math they had done in plotting out their golden years had not accounted for a massive jump in taxes.

Governor Ron DeSantis is doing his best to crush academic freedom and the expression of views that differ from his own. He won a sweeping re-election victory in 2022, and his party has a super-majority in both houses of the legislature. Whatever DeSantis wants, the legislature will give him.

But that’s not enough. The Democratic Party is powerless and supine, but they have the nerve to speak out against the Governor’s authoritarian policies. He can’t tolerate any nay-sayers.

Fabiola Santiago, a journalist for the Miami Herald, wrote with incredulity about the GOP’s fascist ambitions:

Now, I can truly affirm that I have seen it all in Gov. DeSantis’ Florida.

The state’s Republican Party is no longer a fan of multiparty American democracy — and they feel no shame in saying so in public. Nor in proposing legislation to dismantle it.

When the Florida GOP’s tweet appeared on my Twitter news feed, I thought it was a joke or a parody. But what Republicans are up to this legislative season is no laughing matter.

After easily winning the gubernatorial election and obtaining a Republican super-majority in the Legislature that allows the party to act unimpeded, GOP chairman Chris M. Ziegler says he’ll take nothing less than eradicating the Democratic Party. His threat to give Democrats no seat at all at the table is very real.

Republicans are acting like the hemisphere’s evil regimes. They know it, but don’t care.

On February 25, 2023, at 11:30 a.m., the chairman of the Florida GOP, Chris Ziegler, posted a tweet @FloridaGOP in which he wrote:

from Chairman @ChrisMZiegler: “Until we get every Democrat out of office and no Democrat considers running for office, we’re going to continue to step on the gas and move forward in Florida.”

Chris Ziegler’s wife Bridget is the founder of the extremist group Moms for Liberty, which is deeply involved in protests against masks, in book banning, in fighting “critical race theory,” and in attacking gays and the teaching of Black history.

Santiago continues:

The U.S. Constitution and the system of checks and balances be damned. There was immediate pushback on Twitter.

A person identifying as @k_kojei answered Ziegler: “I disagree. We need dissenting voices. That’s what a democracy is about. The problem is not helped by a one-sided view of things. Polarization is just that, no matter who does it! There has to be dialog and balance or we remain only half represented!”

Ziegler doubled down.

“We are doing just fine not giving Democrats a seat at the table in Florida,” he said, mimicking what the planet’s dictators, who think countries are their personal fiefdoms, say about the opposition.

“I recommend other states to do the same!”

More people enter the conversation, at first, remarkably civil in tone, given the sewer speech Twitter attracts.

Some of the horrified were Republican.

“That is extreme and Totalitarian by definition. Not a good look!” tweeted a man who describes himself as a “patriot” with “a recently restored account after two years. Starting from scratch. Unapologetically Conservative American!! #MAGA

“No, it’s DEMOCRACY!” retorts Ziegler, the kind of Florida man who lives in an alternate universe, and so dumb — or sure of his party’s power — that he accuses the Republicans who disagree with him of being “leftist.”

Finally, a ‘fighting for our republic” Floridian from the Treasure Coast brings a fitting hashtag to the conversation — #FloridaWhereFreedomDies. She posts a checklist of tactics Nazis used in their rise to power.

It’s eerily familiar, but nothing new to those of us who have visited museums in Israel and Germany. It all begins with religious, ethnic and lifestyle persecution, silencing the media and obliterating political opposition.

The Florida GOP and DeSantis’ ballyhooed platform is ticking off a whole lot of unimaginably undemocratic boxes.



Pictured in this April 14, 2017 photo, Christian Ziegler, 33, a marketing professional from Sarasota, has become the Florida GOP chairman going into the 2024 presidential race. He made the constitutionally questionable vow to eradicate Florida’s Democratic Party and defended a one-party state. (AP Photo/Tamara Lush)

Legislator files bill

Unfortunately, talk is only the beginning.

Destroying the Democratic Party is no empty threat.

As if the new GOP chairman acting like a two-bit Third World dictator-wannabe wasn’t egregious enough, his words were quickly followed by legislative action.

Former GOP chairman, Blaise Ingoglia, 2015-2019, threw the law behind Ziegler’s words.

Now Ingoglia, a 52-year-old Spring Hills home builder — named one of Tampa Bay’s most influential politicians — filed Tuesday “The Ultimate Cancel Act,” SB 1248, creating the conditions to force the Division of Elections to declare the Democratic Party illegal in Florida.

Reading the dangerous gobbledygook contained in Ingoglia’s bill is an exercise similar to interpreting Cuba’s repressive laws, where the bureaucratic entwining of edicts achieves the goal of making the repression look reasonable to the outside world.

Ingoglia has concocted a ruse: Rule the Democratic Party racist, claiming it’s because Southern Democrats supported slavery in the 1800s, and order it dismantled the way Confederate monuments are forced to come down.

His legal maneuvering is purely a power trip. Sad to say, but it’s unnecessary. The inept Florida Democrats, the 2020 midterms showed, aren’t a serious political threat.

The GOP, however, should scare every Floridian — and, given DeSantis’ 2024 ambitions, every American. We’re just a stepping stone.

The Florida GOP is DeSantis’ party. Nothing happens behind his back. This hardened, fascist Florida is a carefully planned, if sometimes stupidly executed, plot to destroy the United States as we know it.

This isn’t unlike the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol in 2021, only the men leading the charge are in suits instead of camouflage.

What institution will defend Floridians from tyranny when the GOP has so cleverly staged a takeover of every sector in the state?

Emboldened Florida Republicans aren’t happy with simply winning by big margins.

They want what every dictator has: total domination over what people think, whom they love, what they read. Total political control over law and policy without organized opposition to offer an alternative.

Floridians must wake up. It’s imperative.

The author Fabiola Santiago

None of this is happening without DeSantis’s knowledge and support. It sounds insane and fascist, but it is real. Ron DeSantis shows his true colors.

Ron DeSantis seized control of the state’s smallest public institution of higher education. New College was created as a progressive outpost. The governor named six new trustees to the 13-member board and added the controlling vote when a political ally replaced a seventh member. The majority is packed with rightwing ideologues. They immediately sacked the president, an English professor, and replaced her with a Republican hack, Richard Corcoran, former Speaker of the House and former State Commissioner of Education. He was previously passed over when he applied for the presidency of the University of Florida because of his lack of academic credentials. He has been promised compensation of $900,000 a year. DeSantis takes care of his friends.

The Miami Herald reported:

New College of Florida leaders voted Tuesday to eliminate diversity, equity and inclusion “bureaucracies” at the Sarasota honors college, the State University System’s smallest campus.

The school’s board of trustees — including six conservative members appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in January — banned mandatory diversity trainings and ended “political coercion” in the form of diversity statements. They also prohibited “identity-based preferences” in admissions, hiring and promotions.

The school will disband the Office of Outreach and Inclusive Excellence, which is responsible for diversity initiatives. The office’s four staff members will be moved to other new or unfilled administrative positions, saving the school an estimated $250,000 per year.

It was the first trustees meeting for Richard Corcoran, the former education commissioner and Florida House speaker who became New College’s interim president on Monday.

The vote came as DeSantis and Republican lawmakers are pushing to remove diversity, equity and inclusion offices throughout the state college and university systems. Legislators have already begun to file bills to accomplish that aim during the session that begins March 7…

The school’s new policy will not affect the funding of academic instruction, research or student organizations, said Bradley Theissen, a top New College official who briefly served as interim president before Corcoran arrived.

The school’s general counsel will be responsible for overseeing diversity initiatives required by the state as well as the school’s compliance with federal non-discrimination laws “The objective [was] to remove the parts [of school policy and trainings] that we find to be discriminatory,” said trustee Matthew Spalding, a fellow at the conservative think tank the Claremont Institute….

Also Tuesday, board members addressed a wrinkle that developed late last week over Corcoran’s contract, which will pay him a base salary of $699,000, plus more than $200,000 in added benefits.

Most of that amount was intended to come from the New College Foundation, but the foundation’s finance chairperson noted that most of its funds are earmarked for other expenses.

The revelation raised questions about the foundation’s ability to help with Corcoran’s salary, but trustees said Tuesday they expected foundation members to “cooperate.”

Read more at:

I am going to do something unusual with this topic, the topic being Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ bold and disgusting effort to take control of what may and may not be taught in the schools of Florida.

I wrote this post. It will be followed by one written by Mercedes Schneider. We don’t disagree, but we provide different content. Read them both and add your thoughts.

In Florida, a “controversial topic” is any concept that governor Ron DeSantis doesn’t like. This is what he calls “freedom.” Schools are not free to teach anything he dislikes. Last week, the Florida Department of Education told districts to provide detailed information about the books and materials they were using to teach topics that offend DeSantis.

To readers, I apologize for writing so much about this tinpot dictator. But the reality is that he is leading the way towards purging the schools of content that would be standard fare in many other states, and other red states are following his lead.

The Miami-Herald reports:

The Florida Department of Education this week told school districts to produce detailed information about the programs and materials they use to address some of the state’s most hotly debated subjects.

In an email delivered late Tuesday, the department instructed superintendents to fill out a 34-question survey identifying titles of books and programs they have relating to sex education, social-emotional learning, culturally relevant teaching and diversity, and equity and inclusion, among other topics. It asked for specifics for student courses and employee training. The department requested names and examples from district and charter schools. And it gave the districts until Monday to respond. “It sounds very much like what they have done to the state university system,” said Pasco County Superintendent Kurt Browning.

In recent months, the administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis has asked universities and colleges to provide information about their work in diversity, equity and inclusion, and related to gender-affirming care.

DeSantis followed those requests with speeches criticizing many of the concepts and calling on the Legislature to end spending for such items. College presidents quickly announced they would end diversity programs. Legislation mirroring the governor’s agenda soon followed.

“What concerns me about the questions is they are all the hot-button topics and issues that are in the news,” Browning said, noting that the department did not explain its request. “What is it that they’re looking for?”

The department did not respond to calls and emails seeking added information. Superintendents across Florida said their staffs are working to submit all the items, which include uploaded examples in addition to lists of titles and data about the percentages of schools that use the materials and programs.

A spokeswoman for Miami-Dade Public Schools said Friday “district staff is currently in the process of compiling responses to the survey.” The Broward school district did not immediately respond to the Herald’s query. I

“We’ve never had to get this in-depth before,” said Bay County Superintendent Bill Husfelt, president of the state superintendents association. He suggested that politically involved parent and community groups such as Moms for Liberty have played a part in the rising demand for specifics about what books, curriculum and other materials the schools use. Moms for Liberty chapters across Florida have pressed school districts to remove books they claim contain pornography or other materials harmful to minors. The organization’s co-founders recently sat with DeSantis and other Republican officials to identify 14 sitting school board members statewide to target for removal in the 2024 elections, including Miami-Dade School Board member Luisa Santos.

“Politics has always been like this,” said Husfelt, who has led his North Florida district for 15 years. “But I don’t know that I’ve ever seen public education as involved as it is right now.”

Browning said he found it frustrating that the state appears to be targeting approaches such as positive behavior interventions and trauma-informed care, while at the same time requiring schools to address students’ mental health needs. “It seems like they are saying, ‘Do it, but you can’t use this and you can’t use that,’ ” he said.

“My question would be, ‘What is it you want me to use?’ There is nothing inherently evil in any of this stuff, in any of these topics that they are wanting information on.”

The state previously has made clear its disdain for social-emotional learning and culturally relevant teaching, banning it from math and social studies textbooks as they come up for adoption. It also has restricted lessons about human growth and development, which includes sex education.

Social-emotional learning is a strategy that aims to help students manage their emotions and develop empathy, among other traits. The state promoted it as a way to keep students safe after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Culturally relevant teaching attempts to present lessons in ways that better resonate with students of color. It was developed with the recognition that the teaching force in public schools is predominantly white while the majority of students are from other groups. In Florida, 57% of public school students are Black or Hispanic.

Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, said Floridians should recognize that the state’s efforts to remove such concepts from schools is “messing with kids.”

“Kids learn best when they feel safe, when they feel secure, when they have a connection to their teacher,” Spar said. “When you hear the governor talking about how we shouldn’t do [social-emotional learning] or culturally responsive teaching, what we’re saying is, we shouldn’t teach kids the way they learn.”

While many of the state’s survey questions relate to approaches that DeSantis and others have reviled, others focus on models that they have applauded. For instance, the survey asks about the use of the “whole child approach,” which has been embraced by classical education schools such as those supported by Hillsdale College in Michigan.

Browning expected the survey would be a precursor to legislation. “Isn’t everything?” he said.

Read more at:

Mercedes Schneider writes here about Governor Ron DeSantis’s shameless moves to wipe out courses in K-12 and in higher education that he does not like. He is leading an audacious attack on academic freedom that has not been seen in this country since the early 1950s during the Joe McCarthy era. Then the enemy was Communism, now it is fear of those who want to investigate the roots and practices of social and political injustice.

Such people, to DeSantis, are enemies of the social order. They are WOKE, awake to inequity; they make students want to change the status quo. They cannot be tolerated. Their ideas must be eliminated. DeSantis is leading this purge, he says, to protect “freedom.” The language is Orwellian. He means to stamp out the freedom to teach and learn while boasting of his love of freedom.

In addition, he wants to transfer the power to hire new faculty from the faculty to college presidents, whom he appoints. The entire state university would become subservient to his authoritarian impulses.

Schneider describes what is happening, mostly under the radar, as DeSantis wages war on freedom of inquiry:

The current ultra-conservative education platform seeks to stifle all formal or informal discussion of diversity, equity, or inclusion in public K12 and postsecondary education, with Florida apparently leading such efforts.

Though as of yet not a formally-declared 2024 candidate, Florida governor, Ron DeSantis is in the GOP polls as an assumed and formidible GOP presidential primary candidate.

DeSantis, and the Florida legislature are working hard to exercise power over what courses or majors could exist in Florida universities, with legislative efforts to kill womens and gender studies and, as the Insider notes, “gut” a variety of majors. Meanwhile, the February 24, 2023, Tampa Bay Times reports that the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) “told school districts to produce detailed information about the programs and materials they use to address some of the state’s most hotly debated subjects.” Continuing:

In an email delivered late Tuesday, the department instructed superintendents to fill out a 34-question survey identifying titles of books and programs they have relating to sex education, social-emotional learning, culturally relevant teaching and diversity, and equity and inclusion, among other topics. It asked for specifics for student courses and employee training.

The department requested names and examples from district and charter schools.

FDOE wants the information by Monday, February 27, 2023, though it did not offer any reason.

The FDOE request came on the same day that Florida HB 999 was filed by Alex Andrade (R-Pensacola). The bill would remove faculty input from the hiring process; prohibit hiring based on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI); remove majors and minors related to Critical Race Theory, gender studies or intersectionailty.

This rewrite of the previous bill seeks to remove any mention of “politics,” including striking through statements such as, “Motivate students throughout the Florida State University to become aware of the significance of government and civic engagement at all levels and politics in general”; “Provide students with an opportunity to be politically active and civically engaged”, and “Nurture a greater awareness of and passion for public service and politics.”

DeSantis does not want to encourage students to become engaged in civic action. He wants to nurture complacence and passivity “in this best of all possible worlds.

Please open her post to read the gory details of this audacious attempt to put the governor of the state in charge of whatever is taught in his state.

What DeSantis is doing is not conservative. It is radical. It is authoritarian. He shows no respect for critical thinking or debate. He is unwilling to allow students to learn anything he does not like. His desire for control of what can be taught or learned is dangerous to democracy. He is attempting to establish a dictatorship and has a super-majority of both houses in the legislature who will give him whatever he wants.

DeSantis is rolling out one hard-right proposal after another to make news and price he is meaner and badder than Trump. Undocumented people come here to work, and he wants to be certain that no one will hire them, not even to pick crops, clean hotel rooms or do the dishes in restaurants.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday revived a push to adopt more stringent hiring protocols to prevent the employment of undocumented workers, acknowledging that a state law he championed during his first term in office has been ineffective.

Florida law currently requires all government employers and their contractors to use a federal electronic system, known as E-Verify, to check the immigration status of new hires.

DeSantis, however, says the mandate should be expanded to include all private employers in the state, saying the current law was a “compromise” reached by the Legislature following pushback from Florida’s agriculture, tourism and construction industries.

“We ended up with a compromise version that was inadequate,” DeSantis said at a press conference in Jacksonville. Now, DeSantis wants the Republican-led Legislature to help him deliver on the promise he made to voters when he first ran for governor in 2018.

After overwhelming Republican victories in 2022, DeSantis argued, the “political context” is working in his favor this time around.

“Now, we have super majorities in the Legislature,” DeSantis said. “We have, I think, a strong mandate to be able to implement the policies that we ran on and these are policies that I’ve been for since the day I became governor over four years ago.”

The E-Verify proposal is part of a larger immigration package that DeSantis is building ahead of a possible run for the Republican nomination for president in 2024, and that he is expected to use to attack President Joe Biden’s immigration policy to reach conservative voters not just in Florida, but on a national level.

To further bolster his immigration platform, DeSantis wants, among other things, to ban out-of-state tuition waivers at colleges and universities for undocumented students and prohibit local governments from issuing identification cards to migrants.

Read more at:

A recap: The College Board is the owner of the Advanced Placement program, which provides a syllabus and an examination based on that syllabus. The organization is officially nonprofit, but it is a business that pays large salaries ($1 million+) to its top executives and relies on its revenue stream from the SAT and AP.

The College Board has engaged with leading scholars over the past two years. As the course grew closer to completion, it held meetings with state officials to collect feedback.

Florida has sought to be in the forefront of states banning a vague concept called “critical race theory,” which many teachers see as censorship of any discussion of racism in the past or present.

Florida officials denounced the early draft of the College Board syllabus. When the final draft was released on February 1, all of the topics and names that Florida singled out were either eliminated or made optional.

The College Board insisted that it did not cave to political pressure but stood its ground.

Unpersuaded, more than 1,000 scholars and supporters of African American studies signed a letter of protest to the College Board.

More than 1000 African American studies faculty members, administrators and supporters in higher education condemned the College Board’s capitulation to the Florida Department of Education in the creation of the Advanced Placement African American studies course.

In a letter addressed to College Board CEO David Coleman, the collective called for the current curriculum to be rescinded, resources be made available for students “confronting censored AP content,” to stop making false claims that the current class properly teaches African American studies and to fight “widespread efforts by states to censor anti-racist thought.”

“African American Studies is the study of the persistence of anti-Blackness and the connections between historical and contemporary efforts to resist structural racism,” the letter read. “It is an interdisciplinary engagement with the ways in which people of African descent remade and re-envisioned the world through ideas, art, politics and social movements despite the enduring character of white supremacy.”

The letter said the College Board did not uphold its “commitments against politically-motivated meddling” and specifically took issue with the removal of terms like systemic racism and intersectionality at Florida’s request, which “demean, malign and caricature Black life and the study of it.”

Signees contend that the current curriculum now lacks the fundamental aspects of African American studies and if not rescinded, some faculty will advise their institutions against accepting the AP credit.

“As a result, students may take the course without ever encountering key words and related concepts in the field including intersectionality, Black feminism, racial color blindness, institutional racism, and Black Lives Matter,” the letter read.

“Students and educators cannot engage these topics and ideas if the terms themselves are censored, as the terms themselves convey critical insights that are central to African American Studies. African American Studies is more than the study of the Black past.’”

Read more at:

This is a tragic story, but it will surely please the inhumane governor and legislature in Florida. What could be more satisfying than to compel a woman to carry a doomed fetus to term? They should be ashamed, but that’s unlikely.

The Washington Post reported:

LAKELAND, Fla. — Deborah Dorbert is devoting the final days before her baby’s birth to planning the details of the infant’s death.

She and her husband will swaddle the newborn in a warm blanket, show their love and weep hello even as they say goodbye. They have decided to have the fragile body cremated and are looking into ways of memorializing their second-born child.

“We want something permanent,” Deborah said. Perhaps a glass figurine infused with ashes. Or an ornament bearing the imprint of a tiny finger. “Not an urn,” she said, cracking one of the rare smiles that break through her relentless tears. “We have a 4-year-old. Things happen.”

Nobody expected things to happen the way they did when halfway through their planned and seemingly healthy pregnancy, a routine ultrasound revealed the fetus had devastating abnormalities, pitching the dazed couple into the uncharted landscape of Florida’s new abortion law.

Deborah and Lee Dorbert say the most painful decision of their lives was not honored by the physicians they trust. Even though medical experts expect their baby to survive only 20 minutes to a couple of hours, the Dorberts say their doctors told them that because of the new legislation, they could not terminate the pregnancy.

“That’s what we wanted,” Deborah said. “The doctors already told me, no matter what, at 24 weeks or full term, the outcome for the baby is going to be the same.”

Florida’s H.B. 5 — Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality — went into effect last July, soon after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a half-century constitutional right to abortion.

The new law bans abortion after 15 weeks with a couple of exceptions, including one that permits a later termination if “two physicians certify in writing that, in reasonable medical judgment, the fetus has a fatal fetal abnormality” and has not reached viability.

It is not clear how the Dorberts’ doctors applied the law in this situation. Their baby has a condition long considered lethal that is now the subject of clinical trials to assess a potential treatment.
Neither Dorbert’s obstetrician nor the maternal fetal medicine specialist she consulted responded to multiple requests for comment.

A spokesman for Lakeland Regional Health, the hospital system the doctors are affiliated with, declined to discuss Dorbert’s case or how it is interpreting the new law. In an emailed statement, Tim Boynton, the spokesman, said, “Lakeland Regional Health complies with all laws in the state of Florida.”

The combination of a narrow exception to the law and harsh penalties for violating it terrifies physicians, according to Autumn Katz, interim director of litigation at the Center for Reproductive Rights, who has been tracking the implementation of abortion bans across the country.

Florida physicians who violate the new law face penalties including the possibility of losing their licenses, steep fines and up to five years in prison. As a result, Katz said, they “are likely to err on the side of questioning whether the conditions are fully met.”

The Dorberts’ hopes of having a second child came closer to reality last August when Deborah, 33, discovered she was pregnant.

“Everything was great,” Deborah said, recalling how she exercised regularly, ate well and watched in excitement as her pregnancy blossomed. A scan at 11 weeks, 6 days shows a recumbent fetus, buoyed in her womb.

At a mid-November appointment with her obstetrician, Deborah listened to the whoosh whoosh of her baby’s heartbeat and scheduled her next ultrasound for the following week — the anatomy scan that checks the development of fetal organs.

The day before Thanksgiving, Deborah drove with her son to the strip of medical offices across from the hospital where Kaiden had been born four years earlier and parked outside the low-slung, ocher Women’s Care building.

She was ready to introduce Kaiden to his younger sibling.

Deborah pulled up her T-shirt and folded down her yoga pants, baring her skin for a daub of warm gel. The technician slid her wand across Deborah’s swelling abdomen, calling out the baby’s features so that Kaiden could follow along on the black-and-white screen: There’s the baby’s head. There are the hands.

Then her expression changed. The technician excused herself and left the room. When she returned with the obstetrician, Deborah braced herself.

More pictures. More worried frowns. And then a wrenching explanation.

The baby was no longer buoyed in ample amniotic fluid, Deborah’s doctor gently told her. The kidneys were not developing properly, failing to produce the liquid that protects the fetus and promotes the development of vital organs. She didn’t think the baby would survive without a transplant, and she urged Deborah to follow up quickly with a specialist in maternal fetal medicine.

Deborah left carrying the scan stamped with the fetus’s gestational age — 23 weeks, 0 days. The ultrasound report lists a range of abnormalities, not only of the kidneys but also of the heart and stomach consistent with the diagnosis of “oligohydramnios,” or lack of amniotic fluid.

Deborah called Lee away from his new job as an noninjury adjuster for an insurance agency and met him at a park by one of the many lakes that dot Polk County. They cried and walked and wondered whether there could be some simple explanation. Perhaps Deborah’s water had broken prematurely.

Deborah was admitted later that day to Lakeland Regional Hospital for tests, including another ultrasound that showed the fetus had no kidneys.

On the Wednesday after Thanksgiving, Deborah had an appointment with a maternal fetal medicine specialist. A third ultrasound, now at 24 weeks gestation, confirmed the earlier findings, Deborah said, and the specialist told them that the condition was incompatible with life. This doctor also gave the diagnosis its common name: Potter syndrome.
He told them that some parents choose to continue to full term; others terminate the pregnancy through surgery or by inducing preterm labor, she recalled. He said he would begin contacting health-system administrators about the new law, and stepped out of the room to give the couple privacy to mull over their options.

Before they left, Deborah and Lee decided they would like to terminate the pregnancy as soon as they could. She recalls the doctor saying the termination, which would be performed by her obstetrician, might be possible between 28 and 32 weeks.

Ever since the condition was identified more than 75 years ago by Edith Potter, a pioneering perinatal specialist, Potter syndrome has been considered a doubly lethal diagnosis. Without working kidneys, newborns are unable to rid their bodies of deadly toxins and go into renal failure. Without amniotic fluid in the womb, they are born unable to breathe.

“The real problem is underdeveloped lungs,” said Jena L. Miller, a specialist in fetal intervention at Johns Hopkins Hospital and principal investigator in the clinical trial investigating treatment of the syndrome. In healthy fetuses, she said, the spongelike organs expand in the womb, practicing breathing by inhaling amniotic fluid.

Babies with Potter syndrome often die before they are born when their umbilical cords become trapped between their bodies and the wall of their mother’s uterus. Those that survive the birth process typically suffocate within minutes or a matter of hours.

The choices are stark for parents whose babies’ severe defects are typically detected on anatomy scans midway through pregnancy. Apart from the clinical trial, which closed enrollment last July before Deborah discovered she was pregnant, and a few physicians who are experimenting with replacing amniotic fluid, there are no treatment options.

Florida is one of those states where kindness and decency go to die.

Ron DeSantis didn’t like the College Board claiming that Florida was putting political pressure on the testing company to revise the AP African American Course. He didn’t like their lame attempt to stand up to his bullying. So he let it be known in public that Florida was thinking of replacing the College Board with other vendors.

Normally, the anti-testing organizations would have cheered his stance against the tests. But he made clear that he was looking for other tests.

Tens of thousands of Florida high school students take Advanced Placement courses every year to have a competitive edge heading into college.

Now, Gov. Ron DeSantis says he wants to reevaluate the state’s relationship with the private company that administers those courses and the SAT exam.

The move comes after the College Board accused DeSantis’ administration of playing politics when it rejected an Advanced Placement African American Studies course.

“This College Board, like, nobody elected them to anything,” DeSantis said at a news conference Monday in Naples. “They are just kind of there, and they provide a service and so you can either utilize those services or not.”

While DeSantis acknowledged the College Board has long had a relationship with the state, he said “there are probably other vendors who may be able to do that job as good or maybe even a lot better.”

Florida has long had a strong connection with the College Board. The state pays for students to take Advanced Placement exams, and provides bonuses to teachers whose students perform well.

In 2021, nearly 200,000 Florida teens sat for more than 366,000 tests, for which they can earn college credit. It had the fifth-highest rate of tests taken per 1,000 students in the nation.

The College Board also administers the SAT exam, which students may use to help them complete graduation testing requirements, earn entry into universities and become eligible for Bright Futures scholarships.

If the state were to move away from the College Board, other options exist. Students seeking advanced courses leading to college credits have International Baccalaureate, Cambridge Programme and dual enrollment classes available.

They also can take the ACT exam instead of the SAT.

DeSantis has not provided details as to exactly how the College Board’s relationship with the state could be impacted but said he has started talking to House Speaker Paul Renner about the matter. “I’ve already talked to Paul, and I think the Legislature is going to look to evaluate how Florida is doing that,” DeSantis said.

“Of course, our universities can or can’t accept College Board courses for credit, maybe they’ll do others. And then also just whether our universities do the SAT versus the ACT. I think they do both but we are going to evaluate how the process goes.”

No one from the College Board was immediately available for comment.

What tests do students take if they are not Christian?

Read more at:

Ron DeSantis is a dangerous ideologue and a wannabe Mussolini. He speaks of freedom but practices coercion and cancel culture. In Florida, you are free to echo his beliefs but not to disagree. He is a bully.

This frightening story by Kathryn Joyce in Vanity Fair is a MUST-READ. DeSantis engineered the right-wing takeover of New College, a small, progressive college by installing new board members and ousting the President of New College. The extremists are portraying their swift decapitation of a left wing college as a model for other red states. Their plan is to turn New College into its ideological opposite, the “Hillsdale of the South.” Public colleges and universities in other red states should be on high alert. Vanity Fair (to which I subscribe) is usually behind a paywall, but this article is a one-time freebie.

The article begins:

It took New College president Patricia Okker three attempts to deliver her farewell remarks. She kept being interrupted during last week’s board meeting in Sarasota, Florida, including once by a member of the school’s board of trustees, making a motion to terminate her without cause. Okker had been addressing the dozens of students, faculty, and parents who’d come to defend her record—and the hundreds more outside who weren’t admitted—saying she was sorry to disappoint them, but she couldn’t represent the mandate New College was being given through this “hostile takeover.” And she refused to support the claims of right-wing critics that the school had been indoctrinating its students.

In the audience, supporters hugged one another and students left in tears. The trustees moved on, voting to replace Okker with interim president Richard Corcoran, Florida’s recently departed education commissioner who, in a 2021 speech at Michigan’s right-wing Hillsdale College, came close to calling for the collapse of the public school system through student attrition and said the political war “will be won in education.” The trustees replaced the board chair too, made plans to replace the general counsel, and instructed administrators to start preparing to dismantle the college’s diversity offices. null

It was hard to imagine a starker change in leadership for New College, the small, nontraditional honors college of the Florida public university system, known for its lack of grades, individualized majors, and leftist student body, but which has also been eyed skeptically for years by Florida’s conservative-dominated legislature for its low enrollment and graduation rates. But that was exactly the transformation intended when Governor Ron DeSantis last month appointed six new trustees to the school’s 13-member board, in hopes they would remake New College into a right-leaning “classical college, more along the lines of a Hillsdale of the south,” as his education commissioner Manny Diaz put it.

After the Republican-controlled Board of Governors appointed a seventh trustee, the new majority represented a team uniquely qualified to carry out DeSantis’s scorched-earth, right-wing education wars. There was Manhattan Institute fellow and anti-critical race theory hype man Christopher Rufo, who has most recently turned his efforts to laying “siege” to diversity, equity, and inclusion programs; one of Hillsdale’s graduate school deans, Matthew Spalding, who also helped lead Donald Trump’s short-lived 1776 Commission; Charles Kesler of the right-wing Claremont Institute, which spent the Trump years retconning an intellectual platform for the MAGA movement; a senior editor at a religious right magazine; the Catholic author of a book accused of “fram[ing] LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness”; and a private Christian school cofounder with a penchant for Covid disinformation.

Following his appointment, Rufo immediately began speaking in martial terms: that conservatives were “recapturing higher education,” mounting a “landing team” to survey the school as well as a “hostage rescue operation” to “liberate” it from “cultural hostage takers.” Another new trustee, the private Christian academy cofounder Jason “Eddie” Speir, started a Substack to chronicle the transformation, sparking further panic in late January with a post proposingthe board declare a financial emergency, firing the entire staff and rehiring only those professors aligned with the school’s new business model. (Speir also used his newsletter to propose banning USA Today affiliates from covering campus events over a reader comment suggesting people throw dog poop on the new trustees; to request the entire board be given his essay, “‘Florida, Where Woke Goes to Die’ What Does It Mean?” as “supporting material”; and to ask if any readers had a copy of Robert’s Rules of Order he could borrow.)

Students, faculty, and alumni from New College and far beyond decried the takeover as an attack on academic freedom with national implications. Multiple scholarly organizations, including the American Anthropological Association and the American Historical Association, denounced it as “an orchestrated attack on academic integrity.” The University of Florida graduate assistants’ union tweeted a message of “Solidarity with New College students, faculty, and staff as DeSantis appoints a card-carrying fascist to the presidency.” At a campus rally preceding last Tuesday’s meeting, former Democratic state representative Carlos Guillermo Smith warned, “New College is their first test, their first trial run.” Repeating a Twitter hashtag protesting students had used, Smith added, “your campus is next.”

As though to prove them right, on February 1, Florida Republican state representative Spencer Roach—who cosponsored a recent Florida law mandating ideological surveys of public university campuses to “stem the tide of Marxist indoctrination”—tweeted that Okker’s termination should be replicated “at every university of the state.” In a January essay published in the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal, Rufo touted the opportunities for emulation as well, writing that “If we are successful” in carrying out the mission of “institutional recapture,” what happens at New College “can serve as a model for other states.”

One horrified alum, Cayenne Linke, who attended New College in the 1990s, compared the takeover to a violent assault. “I feel like I’m standing at the precipice of the Fourth Reich, and I’m mostly powerless to fight back,” Linke said. “I weep for our nation if DeSantis wins a presidential bid and inevitably installs Rufo as education secretary.”

Please open the link and read the article in its entirety.