When DeSantis suppresses dissent, it victimizes us all

Governor Ron DeSantis signed another bill into law to raise his political profile. This requires public schools to give lectures to students about the victims of Communism. Hosting the event at the Freedom Tower in Miami, DeSantis took the moment to compare the Biden administration to Castro’s, who ruled Cuba for six decades.

“What they are doing,” the governor said of the president and his team, “is trying to quash dissent, trying to elevate a chosen political narrative supported by the regime, and trying to marginalize those who think differently , is not what is a free society.”

Talk about irony. DeSantis addressed these comments to Cuban-American voters after a spate of news reports showed how his own regime intends to dictate how students, teachers and university professors in Florida can think and teach. Fidel himself would have agreed.

The most recent focus is math textbooks. On Good Friday, school districts learned—without warning—that Department of Education censors had banned so many books that the districts were left with only one publisher. The DeSantis regime refused to release details of that decision. Now we see why.

According to the department, the banned books attempted to inject critical race theory — known as CRT — into math classes. Florida has banned the teaching of CRT in public schools where it has never been taught at all.

In fact, only one member of the panel that reviewed math textbooks complained about CRT, as reported by the South Florida Sun Sentinel and Orlando Sentinel. She is a member of Moms For Liberty, a right-wing group that supports the Don’t Say Gay Act and other laws grouped under the catchy but misleading parental rights label.

Among other things, this reviewer had a problem with a question about climate change. The author, she complained, “is speaking of a climate crisis as if it were a proven fact.” That’s because it is.

Another question concerned soccer star Megan Rapinoe, the most valuable player in the 2019 Women’s World Cup, which USA won. The students were asked to calculate how much money the women lose in salary compared to the men’s national team members.

The pay gap between men and women is a proven fact. The players settled their lawsuit against the US Soccer Association in February for $24 million.

Only math experts should review the textbooks. But others have looked at it. One was Jordan Adams, a “civics specialist” at right-wing Hillsdale College in Michigan. Although Adams did not quote CRT, he contradicted some of the books.

Hillsdale invited former Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran to speak in May 2021. During his speech, Corcoran referred to the need for “critical thinking.” In 2019, the Legislature, with support from Corcoran, passed a Civic Education Act (HB 807) that lists Hillsdale among groups required to review the curriculum. More irony.

Not surprisingly, the Department of Education challenged the newspapers’ coverage. It must be embarrassing to see a cover story inflated so thoroughly. The DeSantis regime destroyed school districts to spoil a right-wing extremist.

We’ve been here before. The 2021 legislature passed a civics education bill. DeSantis vetoed it and tried to tell a cover story that the legislation promoted certain “ideologies.” In fact, a right-wing columnist for the conservative National Review claimed – wrongly – that the bill would lead to discussions of critical race theory. The governor listened to the runaway.

For the past two years, as DeSantis has soared toward the sun of the presidential bid, Florida has attempted to control discussions of history, gender and race from kindergarten through college.

Call it stupid. Call it indoctrination. Regardless of the description, students lose when DeSantis attempts to “suppress dissidents” (his words), “elevate a chosen political narrative supported by the regime,” and ” marginalize dissidents.”

In Brevard County, school district officials have taken down an online library of 40,000 books available to students. They said staff didn’t have time to check all the books to see if right-wing censors would object.

Meanwhile, University of Florida President Kent Fuchs gave faculty members a slide presentation on how to avoid violating the governor’s so-called “Stop WOKE” law. Not conforming to the regime’s mindset, Fuchs said, could cost UF$100 million in state funds.

Corcoran’s successor at the Department of Education, Manny Diaz, and the Department’s spokeswoman called newspaper coverage of math textbooks “incorrect.” It was not.

Good math teachers let students show their work. As the DeSantis regime showed its work, the truth came out.

The Sun Sentinel editorial team consists of Steve Bousquet, Editor-in-Chief, Dan Sweeney, Assistant Editor-in-Chief, and Julie Anderson, Editor-in-Chief. Editorials are the opinion of the Board of Directors and are written by one of its members or their designee. To contact us, send an email to letters@sun-sentinel.com.

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