Gov. Ron DeSantis continued his offensive against so-called critical race theory, rolling out a legislative proposal to clamp down on what already is a banned ideology in Florida schools.
“We have the responsibility to stand for the truth, for what is right,” DeSantis said to a rally-style crowd in Wildwood, . “We also have to protect our people and our kids from some very pernicious ideologies that are trying to be forced upon them all across the country.”
Critical race theory posits racial disparities have a continual influence on institutional structures, and for DeSantis, opposing it has been a matter of political concern. The Governor’s Board of Education banned it in classroom instruction this summer, and DeSantis has vowed to get involved in school board races next year. But more remains to be done, DeSantis believes.
To that end, he rolled out the “Stop W.O.K.E. Act.”
That phrase stands for the “Stop Wrongs Against Our Kids and Employees Act,” and DeSantis said the proposal would “do a number of things that are very important.”
It would enshrine in statute a ban on critical race theory, DeSantis said. It would also give parents a “private right of action” to file suits against districts that implement critical race theory policies.
“Honestly, the parents know best what’s going on, and they’re in the best position to do it,” DeSantis said, noting parents could force “discovery.”
The plan also would defund schools that hire critical race theory “consultants.” Critical race theory concepts would also be banned from employee training in schools.
DeSantis decried the critical race theory “cottage industry,” with said consultants “charging a king’s ransom” to teach its concepts.
“They’ll go to a school district or a business or colleges and universities. They bring a lot of this into those institutions and they call it equity,” DeSantis said, adding the term equity is just a way to “smuggle in their ideology.”
DeSantis also decried critical race theory concepts in corporate training seminars, saying they were tantamount to a “hostile work environment.”
“This corporate CRT, it’s basically corporate sanctioned racism,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis said he believes current law allows employees to claim their civil rights were violated, and if it doesn’t, the law will be changed to address “harassment.”
Ahead of announcing the proposal, DeSantis invoked Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“You think about what MLK stood for. He said he didn’t want people judged on the color of their skin, but on the content of their character,” DeSantis said. “You listen to some of these people nowadays, they don’t talk about that.”
The Governor focused heavily on decrying the “Marxism” at the heart of critical race theory.
“I think what you see now with the rise of this woke ideology is an attempt to really delegitimize our history and our institutions,” DeSantis said, decrying a “cultural Marxism” designed to “tear at the fabric of our society and our culture and things that really we’ve taken for granted.”
The Governor also railed about other states. Arizona’s “equity tool kit” came under fire, as did a Philadelphia elementary school that simulated a “Black Power” rally.
“This is something that you see all across the country,” DeSantis contended. He went on to add that those districts are performing “much worse academically” than “anyplace in Florida.”
Lt. Gov. Jeanette Núñez, Education Secretary Richard Corcoran and various lawmakers and activists from around the state joined DeSantis for his announcement.
Núñez invoked her parents, who left Cuba in 1961, saying they were fleeing “the oppression and the indoctrination that we are seeing at the hands of CRT.”
Outside speakers also were prioritized, including a professor from Hillsdale College and a speaker from the conservative activist group Moms For Liberty.
The Manhattan Institute’s Chris Rufo, a prominent voice against critical race theory, said DeSantis is the leader in the movement against the ideology.
“The whole country is watching the state of Florida,” Rufo said. “You have leadership that is bold and fearless and is taking action.”