DeSantis Unveils Plan to Defund and Eliminate DEI and CRT, Announces Former Florida House Speaker as University President

Gov. Ron DeSantis is bringing some new firepower in his war against woke. The governor announced sweeping higher education reforms in Bradenton on Tuesday, targeting diversity, equity, and inclusion programs at Florida public universities. “We are also going to eliminate all DEI and CRT bureaucracies in the state of Florida. No funding. And that will wither on the vine,” DeSantis said.

“[The universities] must be grounded in actual history, the actual philosophy that has shaped western civilization.”

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DeSantis also announced Former Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran as his choice for the New College of Florida president. The tiny public university of fewer than 1,000 students has been the target of a major overhaul by the governor, who appointed six new trustees to its board earlier this month. The administration plans to transform New College into a “Hillsdale of the South.”

Chris Rufo, a conservative journalist and one of the new trustees, said, “I think it’s time for us to set a new standard. I think new leadership is the expectation.”

The governor recommends the Florida legislature allocate $15 million to restructure the university.

DeSantis and his team have kept up the fight against CRT and DEI throughout their tenure. Last year, Florida republicans passed the Stop WOKE act prohibiting racially divisive and ideologically leftist curricula in Florida classrooms. It was recently invoked to prevent the piloting of a College Board course that included “black queer theory” and lessons on the Black Lives Matter movement.

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Last December, DeSantis issued a memo to the Florida College System and State University System demanding a “comprehensive list of all staff, programs, and campus activities related to” any DEI and CRT programs. Press Secretary Bryan Griffin said at the time, “stay tuned.”

Other items of the governor’s legislative proposal include:

– 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;
– Requiring institutions’ presidents and boards of trustees to take ownership of hiring and retention decisions, without interference from unions and faculty committees;
– 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;

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The governor’s office said their proposal “raises the standards of learning and civil discourse of public higher education in Florida… prohibiting higher education institutions from using any funding, regardless of source, to support DEI, CRT, and other discriminatory initiatives.”

The press conference took place at the State College in Sarasota, one of the 28 Florida universities that previously pledged to end all DEI and CRT initiatives by Feb. 1. The governor’s plan is expected to pass through the republican-majority Florida legislature in March.

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