The Florida Legislature has introduced a new measure that would expand on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ efforts to limit the teaching of race and gender in the state’s public universities.
A new bill in the Florida House of Representatives would stifle diversity efforts and consolidate control over public universities, building on many of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ stated goals. Sophie Craig, 19, cheers during a gathering after University of South Florida students and faculty members join a statewide student walkout to protest Gov. Ron DeSantis’ education policies.
Rep. Alex Andrade, a Republican from Pensacola, introduced House Bill 999 this week, which would enable the state Board of Governors to direct universities to discontinue offering majors and minors in topics like gender studies and critical race theory as well as prohibit funding for initiatives or activities that support such curricula. The state’s public colleges are governed by the Board of Governors, of which the governor appoints 14 of its 17 members.
When appropriate, public postsecondary institutions would also have to “promote the philosophical underpinnings of Western culture and include studies of this nation’s historical records,” according to the bill. The legislation under consideration would also grant boards of directors wide control over educational institutions, enabling them to hire faculty without consulting academics and to review faculty tenure at any time.
Students in Florida oppose DeSantis’ education reforms.
The legislation establishes a new front in the conflict over Florida’s higher education system. Prior to this, DeSantis’ administration requested that all colleges disclose their funding for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. DeSantis, who is rumored to be contemplating a bid for the presidency in 2024, unveiled legislation last month at a press conference that would forbid funding for crucial programs promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as prohibit faculty hiring committees from making hiring decisions.
DeSantis stated in a statement: “In Florida, we will build on our higher education reforms by aligning core curriculum to the values of liberty and the Western tradition, eliminating politicized bureaucracies like DEI, increasing research funding for programs that will feed key industries with talented Florida students, and empowering presidents and boards of trustees to recruit and hire new faculty, including by committing record resources for faculty salaries.”