Governor Ron DeSantis

POLITICS: How DeSantis’ Florida is reining in DEI campus racism

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PALM BEACH, Fla. — Conservatives often fruitlessly complain about liberal indoctrination on college campuses, so it’s refreshing to see a state embrace positive changes to finally mitigate this bias.

Florida is that state today, and I hope other states nationwide follow suit.

I was heartened to hear, speaking at a panel conversation Monday with Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida’s education leaders including Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, how the Sunshine State is reforming public education in keeping with Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream.

They’re focused on excellence, not racial and gender division.

Specifically, we scrutinized the rash of “diversity, equity and inclusion” initiatives on campuses, including at least $34 million in DEI at Florida’s ​​12 state universities alone.

Gov. Ron DeSantis supports Florida House Bill 999 and Senate Bill 266.

DEI is mushrooming nationwide, even as college costs for students have soared nearly five times the rate of inflation since 1970.

Panelist Christopher Rufo shared his recent investigative-reporting series on leftist ideological capture at four public Florida universities.

While preaching noble tolerance and inclusion, extreme DEI initiatives aim to replace academic merit with a system of race-based discrimination — an explicit violation of federal civil rights.

Christopher Rufo
Christopher Rufo analyzed Florida universities and how they share ideologies.

Rufo reported how Florida State University separates students according to a “matrix of oppression” and deliberately bars white students — and only white students — from applying for certain scholarships.

Florida International University slanders America as a nation of “white supremacy” and encourages and equips students to engage in violent left-wing protests.

The University of South Florida recommends students attend racially segregated counseling programs and embraces “reparations,” “prison abolition” and “Defund the police.”

the University of South Florida in Tampa
The University of South Florida in Tampa encourages students to seek counseling sessions regarding their racial ideologies.
Getty Images

The University of Central Florida condemns the United States as “white-supremacist culture” and promotes proactive discrimination against an “oppressor” class, described as “male, white, heterosexual, financially stable, young-middle adult, able-bodied, Christian.”

DeSantis appointed Rufo and five others — including Debra Jenks, another panelist — trustees at New College of Florida in January. They’re reforming New College, a taxpayer-subsidized, public liberal-arts hothouse of ahistorical, race-baiting educational malpractice.

Predictably, the liberal media howled, although even The New Yorker noted New College is failing, with 20% of students dropping out before their first year ends, a third not employed or in graduate school a year after graduating and those employed earning just a median $32,000, low for college graduates.

New College’s faculty would rather train Marxist activists than productive workers. Florida is working to put an end to that.

DeSantis noted he’s supporting House Bill 999, heard Monday in the Florida House, and Senate Bill 266, heard Wednesday in the Senate.

These proposals would prohibit a state college or university from funding DEI and other identity-politics programs and activities. They would also ban soliciting pledges or commitments to DEI, critical race theory or any political viewpoint as a condition of hiring, promotion or admissions.

States nationwide should follow suit against these ideological litmus tests, which might have begun with good intentions but morphed into a racialized, punitive orthodoxy.

In its most toxic expression, DEI is a shallow, reactionary Band-Aid placed over the deep cultural and subsequent policy rot led by progressives that’s debilitated our country since its acceleration in the 1960s.

I recommended a book called “Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed,” by The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Riley, an incredible black journalist.

He shows the strength of black families in America before progressives introduced massive cultural pathologies during the 1960s.

White liberal hippies normalized drug culture, decimating our society, especially our young black men.

White liberal Hollywood’s “free love” culture normalized sexual promiscuity, resulting in broken families and male abandonment of single mothers.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
DeSantis speaks to Iowa voters during an event at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on Mar. 10, 2023.
Getty Images/Scott Olson

These negative trends advanced further under the socialism of Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Great Society” mass welfare programs, which destroyed the black family.

Before LBJ’s mass experimentation on the black family, some 75% of black babies were born into two-parent homes.

Nearly 60 years and $25 trillion later, we have the opposite: Around 25% of black babies are born into two-parent homes.

Harvard economist Raj Chetty and others show single parenthood is a crucial variable for children remaining trapped in violence and poverty.

This isn’t a condemnation of single mothers or people on welfare. My parents were on welfare.

It is a condemnation of the culture creating a permanent underclass. How these programs are structured makes them a spider web of entrapment instead of a springboard to a brighter future.

DEI in its toxic form contributes to that entrapment web. It locks people in a mindset of recrimination, victimhood and permanent grievance.

Thank you, Florida, for finally taking steps to reform. Let’s hope other states follow.

Carrie Sheffield is a senior policy analyst at Independent Women’s Voice and Tony Blankley Fellow for American Exceptionalism at The Steamboat Institute.

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