How a determined Ron DeSantis is trying to 'seize ideological control' of education in Florida: journalist

How a determined Ron DeSantis is trying to 'seize ideological control' of education in Florida: journalist
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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has proven his commitment to controlling the direction of education in Florida, New York Magazine's Intelligencer reports.

Journalist Jonathan Chait likens DeSantis’ approach to education in Florida to Hungarian politician Viktor Orbán, who used several strategies to implement an authoritarian educational system. Chait wrote that Orbán did this by “stacking legislative districts, using state power to bully corporations into support for the ruling party, marginalizing independent media and exploiting state-controlled pseudo-journalistic alternatives, and seizing control of the education system.”

Representatives for both DeSantis and Orbán acknowledged that the two view each other as inspiration at the 2022 National Conservatism Conference.

READ MORE: How 'authoritarian' Ron DeSantis has made Florida a 'laboratory of fascist politics': scholar

With that, Chait offers a breakdown of the ways the governor and potential 2024 presidential candidate has implemented Orbán-inspired methods.

Here are the three ways DeSantis is taking ideological control of education in Florida, from K-12 to higher education:

1. He appointed a group of six advisors to the New College of Florida board who will ultimately have power to control the trajectory of what students learn.

The National Review said of the new appointments that “alongside two others not up for appointment who support DeSantis’ strategy and another who is expected to be replaced soon, the new BOT appointees can, with their majority power, theoretically target progressive programming at the school.”

READ MORE: Why 'massive bully' Ron DeSantis 'would be no better' than Donald Trump as president: columnist

2. Although the governor’s “Stop Woke (Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees) Act” — which would have banned race-related coursework, or critical race theory, from college classrooms — was temporarily blocked by a judge, DeSantis is already looking for ways around the ruling. Recently, he distributed a memo requesting course data from state colleges that teach “diversity, equity and inclusion,” and requested responses from the schools by Friday, January 13.

ProPublica reports that some Florida universities have already terminated race-related courses as a result.

3. Amid DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which was put into action last year, journalist Judd Leggum reports that, “public records ... reveal that several Florida schools have already removed books with LGBTQ characters from their libraries, citing the Parental Rights in Education Act.”

Advocates who oppose DeSantis’ proposed legislation argue that the bills threaten free speech.

However, Chait raised the point that the far-right governor is not looking to “protect or restore free speech, but to impose controls of his own liking.”

READ MORE: 'Tone of humility': Florida columnist issues dire warning to Ron DeSantis

DeSantis' actions and "use of state power" continues to go unchecked by the GOP, which Chait asserts has allowed him to receive very little backlash from media.

Read the Chait's full report here.

READ MORE: 'A strange no-eye-contact oddball': Who is the real Ron DeSantis?

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