WILDWOOD, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis is going on the offensive against what his administration calls "corporate wokeness" and critical race theory in Florida schools and businesses.
Speaking from Wildwood Wednesday, DeSantis announced plans for the Stop Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees, or WOKE Act.
"I view the wokeness as a form of cultural Marxism," DeSantis said. "They want to delegitimize the founding of the country and the institutions, and they basically want to replace it with a very militant form of leftism that would absolutely destroy this country."
The Stop WOKE Act would make CRT training an "unlawful employment practice" for private businesses and public sector employees under the Florida Civil Rights Act. It also prevents teaching CRT in schools.
'Critical race theory' refers to an intellectual movement started by legal scholars as a way to examine how laws and systems uphold and perpetuate inequality for traditionally marginalized groups, according to Time.
In June, the Florida State Board of Education voted unanimously to approve an amendment banning CRT in classrooms.
“The woke class wants to teach kids to hate each other, rather than teaching them how to read, but we will not let them bring nonsense ideology into Florida’s schools,” DeSantis said to the state BOE ahead of that vote.
Opponents of the proposal include Florida Education Association President Andre Spar, who pushed back on DeSantis' anti-CRT comments on the Florida Politics SUNRISE podcast.
"The fact does remain that we have to discuss race in America, and we should do it in a way which allows for that factually based critical thinking that we encourage our students to do," Spar said.
Others, including the Northside Coalition's Ben Frazier, say DeSantis' move is political propaganda and an effort to whitewash history.
“Our students should not be taught a whitewashed and candy-coated version of history. Teachers should be allowed to teach the truth,” Frazier said at a rally outside Duval County Public Schools in July.
According to a news release from DeSantis' office, the Stop WOKE Act:
- Codifies the Florida Department of Education’s prohibition on teaching critical race theory in K-12 schools
- Prohibits school districts, colleges and universities from hiring woke CRT consultants
- Protects employees against a hostile work environment due to critical race theory training
- Provides employees, parents and students a private right of action
- Strengthens enforcement authority of the Florida Department of Education
"We have a responsibility to stand for the truth, to stand for what's right," DeSantis said. "And we're doing that and we've put more resources and emphasis on teaching civics on teaching people about American history. But we also have to protect people and protect our kids from some very pernicious ideologies that are trying to be forced upon them all across the country."
Florida Education Association (FEA) President Andrew Spar released this statement Wednesday in response to Governor DeSantis’ announcement:
“Teachers are trained and experienced in educating children and have a duty to prepare their students to be successful contributors to society. Teachers should have the freedom to teach honest, complete facts about historical events like slavery and civil rights without being censored by politicians. The governor’s announcement today goes against this fundamental American value. All Florida’s children should receive a fact-based education that doesn’t change depending on their ZIP code.”
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