Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried contended Monday that Gov. Ron DeSantis seeks a “race war and a cultural war.”
Fried, appearing on WJCT-FM’s “First Coast Connect,” was answering a listener question about the recently instituted Board of Education ban on teaching critical race theory and the 1619 Project, when she made the comment critical of the rule change.
“This is another opportunity for the Governor to create a race war and cultural war, inside of our state,” Fried told host Melissa Ross.
“I want everybody to rest assured. First of all, critical race theory is the new bogeyman of the Republican Party. It’s not something that’s taught in the state of Florida,” Fried noted. “But we need to let our teachers do their jobs and that’s teach.”
“This Governor and this Board of Education who is, again, appointed solely by Republican Governors like Ron DeSantis and the previous Governor as well, it is not their job to tell our teachers how to — sure, there’s parameters (and) policies, but this is a time when they have overstepped once again, government stepping into the job of educating, and not the teachers.”
“This is, again, a bogeyman the Governor is pushing out there to put fear into the people’s minds,” Fried continued.
“He did it intentionally, not because there’s a worry about something like this, but to create a culture war in our state. I know people in our state are smarter than this and aren’t going to fall for this political rhetoric spewed by Ron DeSantis and the Republican Party,” Fried said.
Fried’s criticism of DeSantis drew a response Tuesday morning from the Republican Governors’ Association.
“Nikki Fried’s accusations against the Governor aren’t just desperate, they’re dangerous,” said RGA spokesperson Joanna Rodriguez. “Fried has shown repeatedly that she’s incapable of being truthful about pretty much anything. Her resorting to lies and malicious manipulations on her own liberal biography and views on critical race theory are just more of the same.”
Fried’s direct criticisms of the Board of Education’s ban on teaching critical race theory and like concepts comes after DeSantis, in the wake of the board’s decision, contended some teachers would rather teach critical race theory than reading.
“Some of the nonsense that you see in some of these places around the country, I mean, they will attack cops with this type of ideology in schools, and meanwhile, they have like 87% of the kids that aren’t even literate in some of these schools. So it shows you they’re not trying to educate; they’re trying to indoctrinate,” DeSantis said.
“We’re not going to let that come to Florida. And so I’m glad that they acted. I think it’s the right thing to do. We’re going to make sure that we’re providing access to education, but solid education, free of some of this ideology that people are trying to shove down everybody’s throats.”
Even as Democrats such as Fried object to the DeSantis agenda, donors flock to him.
DeSantis, who reported nearly $40 million cash on hand in his Friends of Ron DeSantis political committee as of the end of May, has been fundraising off the critical race theory ban for days.
“I will NOT allow this Cultural Marxism to Gain a Foothold in Florida Schools,” an email solicitation sent Thursday reads.
The new guidance for teachers certainly offers content guardrails.
American history is to be defined “largely on universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence.” Teachers’ apparent efforts “to indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view” will also be banned, as is “fiction or theory masquerading as facts.”