NATIONAL NEWS

DeSantis curtails diversity, equity and inclusion programs in Florida state colleges

May 15, 2023, 12:04 PM

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs legislation on Monday, May 15, 2023, banning state funding for dive...

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs legislation on Monday, May 15, 2023, banning state funding for diversity, equity, and inclusion programs at Florida's public universities, at New College of Florida in Sarasota, Fla. (Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday signed a bill that blocks public colleges from using federal or state funding on diversity programs, addressing a concern of conservatives ahead of the Republican governor’s expected presidential candidacy.

The law, which DeSantis proposed earlier this year, comes as Republicans across the country target programs on diversity, equity and inclusion in higher education.

The signing builds on the governor’s larger push to shape Florida’s education system through regulating how schools deal with subjects such as gender, with DeSantis arguing that he is challenging inappropriate liberal ideology in the classroom.

DeSantis, who is expected to announce his presidential run in the coming weeks, has focused heavily on divisive cultural issues as he moves to win over the conservative voters who typically decide Republican primary elections.

Diversity, equity and inclusion offices in higher education often spearhead services tailored to students of various races, genders, sexual orientations, cultures and abilities. Some college administrators also consider so-called DEI factors when admitting students, providing scholarships or deciding which faculty to hire and promote.

The law blocks public universities from diverting state or federal funds toward programs or campus activities that advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion or promote political or social activism.

“In reality what this concept of DEI has been is to attempt to impose orthodoxy on the university,” DeSantis said at a bill signing ceremony in Sarasota. “This has basically been used as a veneer to impose an ideological agenda, and that is wrong.”

The measure also bars curriculums that teach “identity politics” or “theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression, and privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States and were created to maintain social, political, and economic inequities.” The provision is aimed at curtailing education about critical race theory, a way of thinking about U.S. history through the lens of racism.

In a signal of DeSantis’ reach on education, he chose to sign the bill at New College of Florida, a small, traditionally-progressive school that became nationally known this year after the governor appointed a group of conservatives to its board of trustees. Among the DeSantis appointees’ first moves was to eliminate the New College’s diversity, equity and inclusion office.

The takeover has led to pushback among students at New College, long known for its progressive thought and creative course offerings that don’t use traditional grades.

On Monday, a small group of protestors gathered outside the signing ceremony. DeSantis, as well as most of the speakers at the event, ridiculed them.

“You know, I saw some of the protestors out there. I was a little disappointed. I was hoping for more,” DeSantis said with a smile as his supporters clapped.

Sen. Shevrin Jones, a Democrat, issued a statement after the signing that said the law continues DeSantis’ “overreach” into education.

“Education ought to be about teaching kids how to think through issues, not what to think about issues,” Jones said. “The exposure to wide-ranging experiences and fresh perspectives encourages understanding and creativity. By restricting what students can learn, the state is actively suppressing students’ academic and intellectual freedom.”

National News

Associated Press

Oklahoma Supreme Court dismisses lawsuit of last Tulsa Race Massacre survivors seeking reparations

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit of the last two survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, dampening the hope of advocates for racial justice that the government would make amends for one of the worst single acts of violence against Black people in U.S. history. The nine-member […]

38 minutes ago

Associated Press

High school president writes notes thanking fellow seniors — 180 of them

Emily Post would be proud. A high school class president in Massachusetts who gave a commencement speech wanted to recognize all of his fellow graduates. So he wrote them personal thank-you notes presented at the ceremony — 180 to be exact. “I wish I could’ve acknowledged you all, but there was simply not enough time,” […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

AP-NORC poll: About half of US adults approve of Trump’s conviction, but views of him remain stable

NEW YORK (AP) — About half of U.S. adults approve of Donald Trump’s recent felony conviction, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The survey shows some potential vulnerabilities, along with some signs of resilience in his support, as Trump tries to become the first American with a felony […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Judge faces inquiry after Illinois attorney was kicked out of court and handcuffed to chair

CHICAGO (AP) — Cook County’s top judge has asked state regulators to review allegations that an attorney was handcuffed to a chair after a judge kicked him out of her courtroom. Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans referred misconduct allegations against Judge Kathy Flanagan to the state Judicial Inquiry Board on Friday, the Chicago Sun-Times […]

4 hours ago

jerry west...

Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press

Jerry West, a 3-time Hall of Fame selection and the NBA logo, dies at 86

Jerry West, a three-time Basketball Hall of Fame inductee whose silhouette is considered to be the basis of the NBA logo, died Wednesday morning.

4 hours ago

Associated Press

One of several South Dakota baseball players charged in rape case pleads guilty to lesser felony

MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) — One of the several former players on an American Legion baseball team in South Dakota charged last year with rape has pleaded guilty to a lesser felony. The 19-year-old former Mitchell player pleaded guilty to one count of accessory to a felony, according to court documents cited by KELO-TV on Tuesday. […]

4 hours ago

DeSantis curtails diversity, equity and inclusion programs in Florida state colleges