SARASOTA, FLORIDA — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis announced legislation that pushes back against liberal elites seeking to suppress free thought in the name of identity politics and indoctrination at colleges and universities. The governor said that public higher education “should not be used to impose ideological and political activism” on students.
“The core curriculum must be grounded in actual history – the actual philosophy that has shaped western civilization,” DeSantis added.
The proposed bill aims to ground public higher education in the teaching of the true history and philosophy of Western Civilization. The legislation would prohibit DEI, CRT, and other discriminatory programs that have become barriers to learning, according to the governor.
“In Florida, we will build off of our higher education reforms by aligning core curriculum to the values of liberty and the Western tradition, eliminating politicized bureaucracies like DEI, increasing the amount of research dollars for programs that will feed key industries with talented Florida students, and empowering presidents and boards of trustees to recruit and hire new faculty, including by dedicating record resources for faculty salaries,” said Governor DeSantis.
Governor DeSantis made the announcement at the State College of Florida, one of the 28 Florida state colleges that unanimously agreed to end all discriminatory DEI and CRT initiatives by tomorrow, February 1, 2023.
Christopher Rufo, a prominent conservative journalist, expressed his support of the legislative package when he explained that the purpose of a university “is not to push political activism, it’s to train good students, good citizens in pursuit of knowledge and in pursuit of the true, the good, and the beautiful.”
BUILDING ON PREVIOUS REFORMS
In the 2022 Legislative Session, Senate Bill 7044 dismantled accreditation agency monopolies, increased tenured faculty accountability and made the transition between a Florida state college and university more seamless. The 2023 proposal raises the standards of learning and civil discourse of public higher education in Florida by:
- Requiring the State University System Board of Governors (BOG) and State Board of Education (SBOE) to review and realign general education core courses to make sure they provide historically accurate, foundational, and career relevant education, not suppress or distort significant historical events or include a curriculum that teaches identity politics;
- Prohibiting higher education institutions from using any funding, regardless of source, to support DEI, CRT, and other discriminatory initiatives;
- Requiring institutions’ presidents and boards of trustees to take ownership of hiring and retention decisions without interference from unions and faculty committees;
- Allowing institutions’ presidents and boards of trustees to conduct a post-tenure review of a faculty member at any time with cause;
- Prohibiting postsecondary institutions from using discriminatory political filters, including political loyalty oaths and DEI statements, in the hiring process;
- Requiring preeminent state research universities to include annual research expenditures of $50 million or more for STEM-related occupations, businesses, or industry partners in Florida that are employing Florida residents;
- Requiring the Board of Governors (BOG) to align universities’ missions to education for citizenship of the constitutional republic and Florida’s existing and emerging workforce needs;
- Providing additional responsibilities and clarifications for FSU’s Florida Institute of Politics, including renaming it the Florida Institute for Governance and Civics; and
- Providing additional responsibilities and clarifications for FIU’s Adam Smith Center for the Study of Economic Freedom.
AFFORDABLE HIGH-QUALITY EDUCATION
“Under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, Florida’s state university system has remained the number one system for public higher education in America, and a four-year degree has never been more affordable,” said Ray Rodrigues, Chancellor of the State University System of Florida.
The new legislation will give all students the opportunity to succeed, regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, or socio-economic status. “We applaud the Governor for his commitment to providing our students a high-quality education that focuses on academic excellence and is free from ideological agendas determining what they should learn,” Rodrigues added.
Governor DeSantis also previewed the following fiscal year 2023–2024 budget recommendations, including:
- $15 million to overhaul and restructure the New College of Florida, including support for students’ scholarships and hiring faculty;
- $5 million for operations and $13 million for capital needs for the Hamilton Center for Classical and Civic Education at the University of Florida, which will be renamed the Hamilton College for Classical and Civic Education;
- $100 million in performance funding that must be used for the recruitment and retention of highly qualified faculty at state universities.