Gov. DeSantis administration surveying for CRT, DEI in Florida higher education
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 1/3/23-Gov. Ron DeSantis and family prior to taking the oath of office for his second term, Tuesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

The latest move targeting ‘woke ideology’ comes as DeSantis gears up for his second term.

The Governor’s Office is surveying for “woke ideology” in Florida’s higher education system.

As Gov. Ron DeSantis leans into his second term and the upcoming 2023 Legislative Session, his administration is asking state colleges and universities to compile a list of programs and campus activities relating to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and critical race theory (CRT).

The Chronicle of Higher Education was the first to report Tuesday — the first day of the Republican Governor’s second term — that the DeSantis administration had begun compiling a list of courses on diversity. The Governor’s Press Secretary, Bryan Griffin, confirmed the report Wednesday afternoon.

“All state universities & college systems in Florida have been required to report expenditures and resources utilized for campus activities related to diversity, equity, and inclusion and critical race theory. Stay tuned,” Griffin tweeted.

Griffin published a memo from the Governor’s Office to Education Commissioner Manny Diaz and the Chancellor of the State University System of Florida, Ray Rodrigues. The memo, dated Dec. 28, gives schools a Jan. 13 deadline to document the list of staff, programs and campus activities related to DEI and CRT. Each institution must report a description of the program, positions associated with the program, funding spent to support the program and how much of those dollars are state-funded.

The memo was written by Chris Spencer, Director of the Governor’s Office of Policy and Budget.

“As the Executive Office of the Governor prepares policy and budget proposals ahead of the 2023 Legislative Session, it is important that we have a full understanding of the operational expenses of state institutions,” Spencer wrote. “Governor Ron DeSantis has prioritized a cost-effective higher education system that delivers high quality service to Floridians to best prepare them for employment.”

Nicholas Seabrook, Chair of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at the University of North Florida, tweeted Wednesday morning that the Florida Department of Education had requested a list from him earlier this week. He also published his response denying the existence of courses involving DEI or CRT in his department. His response also noted the definition and scope of the two fields of study are disputed.

DeSantis has become a leader in the Republican Party, in part for his actions and rhetoric against fields of study like DEI or CRT and policies like environmental, social and governance investing criteria — more commonly called ESG. The Governor has criticized controversial topics as “woke ideology,” and did so again Tuesday during his second inaugural address.

“We must ensure school systems are responsive to parents and to students, not partisan interest groups, and we must ensure that our institutions of higher learning are focused on academic excellence and the pursuit of truth, not the imposition of trendy ideology,” DeSantis said.

The Legislature has passed legislation for a “Parent’s Bill of Rights,” penned by Rodrigues when he was a State Senator, and what DeSantis calls the “Stop WOKE Act,” authored by Diaz, a fellow former State Senator.

The latter law prohibits lessons and training which tell students and employees that they are inherently racist, sexist or oppressive because of their race, color, sex or national origin. It also bans instruction that they are personally responsible and should feel guilty for the past actions of members of their race, color, sex or national origin. However, the law is facing court challenges.

The Legislature in 2021 also mandated a diversity survey asking students about the right to political expression on campus.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


  • Elliott Offen

    January 4, 2023 at 3:41 pm

    Half the state is woke so I don’t know what this guy is trying to accomplish with this anti woke stuff. Big flop. Just right wing propaganda.

  • PeterH

    January 5, 2023 at 12:30 am

    Intimidation is a tool in the DeSantis regime’s FREEDUMB STATE OF FLORIDA!

  • It's Complicated

    January 5, 2023 at 9:11 am

    The State of Florida subsidizes the majority of tuition for EVERY state resident attending a public college and university. The State Legislature makes law in cooperation with the Governor – NOT state-employed academia. If these public colleges and universities do not cooperate and comply with Florida Statutes, rest assured there will be defunding of these programs and explicit proviso language to that effect in the 2023-2024 State Budget. Will be entertaining to watch this Session.

  • cassandra

    January 5, 2023 at 10:41 am

    DeDICKtator “prioritized a cost-effective higher education system…to best prepare them for employment.”

    A college education is about more than just job skills. Tiny DeDICK knows this. He graduated from *two* ELITE NORTHEASTERN colleges, both with “WOKE” ideologies. That’s where his kids will go. He only wants *YOUR* children too uneducated to question authority.

  • Tjb

    January 5, 2023 at 12:23 pm

    Do the folks that oppose CRT even know what it’s curriculum is? And if so, why is “woke”?

    • That’s all

      January 7, 2023 at 4:42 pm

      The folks who oppose it can’t count the number of of thumbs they have lol

  • cassandra

    January 5, 2023 at 4:20 pm

    If the curriculum teaches anything other than that only straight, white, male, forced-birther, Christians have rights –or are even real people — it’s “woke” and must be punished.

  • G. Fardella

    January 5, 2023 at 8:49 pm

    It is about time this was done; I applaud the Governor’s effort to curtail CRT, DEI and any philosophy related to the dumbing down of our students. Bravo to our Governor and most Legislators .

    • cassandra

      January 7, 2023 at 2:58 pm

      Please provide sources for: “CRT, DEI…dumbing down of our students.”

      • Tjb

        January 8, 2023 at 1:30 pm

        I bet G. Fardella will not be able to provide any legitimate sources. DeSantis uses bogus cultural issue to hide his inability to fix the insurance crisis, high cost of housing, and real issues that negatively effect Floridians

Comments are closed.


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