WILDWOOD, Fla. – Teaching “critical race theory” in Florida’s K-12 public schools could soon be illegal.
Gov. Ron DeSantis continued his fight against the controversial teachings on Wednesday morning with the announcement of new legislation that would keep the theory out of classrooms.
DeSantis introduced the “Stop W.O.K.E. Act” during a rally-style event in Central Florida.
DeSantis said the legislation would put into law the Florida Department of Education’s prohibition on “critical race theory” in K through 12 schools that was approved in June.
Critical race theory, or CRT, is an academic concept that looks at how racism has led to laws and other policies that continue to negatively affect communities of color in America.
Local school districts said they’ve never taught Critical Race Theory, which is a graduate-level course of study.
DeSantis says it teaches kids to hate each other.
“It violates Florida standards to scapegoat someone based on their race, to say that they are inherently racist, to say that they are an oppressor, or oppressed or any of that and that’s good and that’s important. But we also have to realize that we have to do more to make sure that that actually carries the day in our classrooms and in our society,” DeSantis said.
Today, we are taking a stand against critical race theory in our schools and in the workplace by calling for the enactment of the Stop W.O.K.E. Act. https://t.co/7iuEjyYKsj— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) December 15, 2021
The “Stop Wrongs against Our Kids and Employees Act” would also give parents the ability to file lawsuits to enforce the prohibition of CRT, defund any money for K-12 or higher education going to CRT consultants and ban CRT concepts from employee training in schools. According to DeSantis, it would also protect employees of corporations “against a hostile work environment due to critical race theory training.”
But some say it is important to teach CRT to give a historical perspective and show children how the racist laws enacted during the Jim Crow Era, for example, still have an effect on society today.
Democrats are calling the proposal a distraction.
“I feel that we actually should be focusing on real issues like passing a people-centered budget,” said Florida Rep. Angie Nixon of Jacksonville.
Florida Education Association (FEA) President Andrew Spar, who leads the state’s largest teachers union, released a statement Wednesday in response to Gov. DeSantis’ announcement:
“Teachers are trained and experienced in educating children and have a duty to prepare their students to be successful contributors to society. Teachers should have the freedom to teach honest, complete facts about historical events like slavery and civil rights without being censored by politicians. The governor’s announcement today goes against this fundamental American value. All Florida’s children should receive a fact-based education that doesn’t change depending on their ZIP code.”
DeSantis said the legislation will be introduced when the Florida Legislature reconvenes in January.