The Florida Republican Governor continues to rebuild ‘his’ state to be what he wants it to be….
A plan by Gov. Ron DeSantis to transform New College, which is known as progressive and describes itself as “a community of free thinkers,” into a beacon of conservatism has left students, parents and faculty members at the tight-knit school reeling over what they see as a political assault on their academic freedom. Mr. DeSantis’s education commissioner has expressed a desire to remake the school in the image of Hillsdale College, a small Christian school in Michigan that has been active in conservative politics.
Over 25 tumultuous days last month, the Republican governor removed six of the college’s 13 trustees, replacing them with allies holding strongly conservative views. The new board then forced out the college’s president, a career educator, and named Mr. DeSantis’s former education commissioner, a career politician, as her replacement. On Monday, the board signed off on paying its pick a salary of $699,000 a year, more than double what his predecessor earned.
Mr. DeSantis, who is widely thought to have White House aspirations, has made ideological attacks on public education central to his politics. His administration banned instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation through third grade, limited what schools can teach about racism, rejected math textbooks and prohibited an Advanced Placement course in African American studies for high school students.
“You knew it would eventually spiral to higher education,” said Sam Sharf, a second-year New College student. “But I didn’t anticipate it would happen this fast.”
On Jan. 31, when the college president was ousted, Mr. DeSantis unveiled higher education policies — to further weaken faculty tenure protections, eliminate diversity and equity programs and mandate Western civilization courses — that for many deepened a chill that had already taken hold across Florida’s public colleges and universities. The state has made it harder for faculty members to retain tenure, asked students and faculty to fill out a survey about their political leanings and requested information about resources for transgender students.
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