TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Leaked documents suggest Florida’s governor is taking aim at indoctrination and liberal bias present in the state’s universities.
A recently publicized 70-page proposal drafted by lawmakers at the behest of Gov. Ron DeSantis shows faculty hiring at universities could become the responsibility of a board of trustees, many of whom are DeSantis allies or appointees.
The bill, obtained earlier this week by Seeking Rents, intends to take away substantial amounts of power and independence from public universities and colleges.
During a press conference June 5, DeSantis harpooned the current state of education: “We believe that when parents send their kids to school, it’s for education, not for indoctrination.”
According to the proposal, Florida’s Board of Governors, which currently oversees universities in the state, along with the Board of Education would have much more influence on the way these public schools are operated.
The Board of Governors would have the ability to veto budgets, investigate university presidents and even fire employees. Fourteen of the 17 members on this board are directly appointed by DeSantis. In addition, all seven members of the Board of Education are appointed by DeSantis.
The board of trustees at state universities also typically supports DeSantis. These boards are generally set to have 13 members, six of whom are appointed by DeSantis and five of whom are picked by the Florida Board of Governors.
If the bill as written becomes law, the trustees and DeSantis would have much more power in the way state education systems are operated.
The DeSantis-backed measure vows to cut some state funding for universities and colleges that do not follow state laws or regulations.
For example, the governor encouraged universities to send out voluntary “intellectual surveys” in April of this year. These surveys ask a series of questions to employees and students to help gauge the political bias or temperature present in Florida’s higher education system.
While these surveys are currently voluntary, the leaked legislation would make fundraising cuts to institutions that refuse to send out the surveys.
Banning Racial Politics
The bill would also effectively ban any teaching related to “identity politics, such as critical race theory,” or that “defines American history as contrary to the creation of a new nation based on the universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence.”
College and university curricula would be required to “promote the philosophical underpinnings of Western civilization and include studies of this nation’s historical documents, such as the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments and the Federalist Papers.”
Limiting Teacher Tenure
DeSantis’ fight against colleges and universities began back in April when he signed a bill that limits tenure in Florida’s education system. The bill, SB7044, requires “each tenured state university faculty member to undergo a comprehensive post-tenure review every five years.”
This review includes examination of tenured employees’ “accomplishments and productivity; assigned duties in research, teaching and service; performance metrics, evaluations and ratings; and recognition and compensation considerations, as well as improvement plans and consequences for underperformance.”