On Wednesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), proposed new legislation that would allow parents the right to sue school districts for critical race theory and other lessons relating to racial equality being taught in Florida classrooms.
DeSantis erroneously suggested that Martin Luther King Jr. would have approved his proposal.
DeSantis’s bill is called the Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (WOKE) Act. The legislation was announced in a press release. DeSantis said that it would be “the strongest legislation of its kind in the nation and will take on both corporate wokeness and Critical Race Theory.”
In a press briefing on the billDeSantis made the mistaken claim that educators who teach about racism in America’s history are not allowed to do so. trying to indoctrinate children with hateThis implied that such lessons teach white kids to hate their own selves.
“We won’t allow Florida tax dollars to be spent teaching kids to hate our country or to hate each other,” DeSantis said.
Florida Governor Scott promoted his legislation by using Martin Luther King Jr.’s words.
“You think about what MLK stood for. He said he didn’t want people judged on the color of their skin but on the content of their character,” DeSantis said. “You listen to some of these people nowadays, they don’t talk about that.”
As The Washington Post has noted, King’s children have rejected similar claims made by other conservative lawmakers, who have wrongly asserted that King would be in favor of banning lessons on racism and racial justice in K-12 classrooms.
The legislation would essentially codify a policy enacted by the state’s education department earlier this year, which has made it more difficult for educators to teach studentsAn accurate representation of U.S. history.
If passed, the bill wouldn’t stop at school districts. The legislation would also allow state residents the right to sue private companies that require their workers to take racial sensitivity training.
Similar to Texas’s recent abortion ban, the legislation proposed by DeSantis places the onus of enforcement on private individuals, rather than the state – a strategy intended to make it difficult for state and federal courts to deem the law unconstitutional or statutorily unsound.
State legislators and commentators have criticised the bill.
“Let’s be clear, Gov. DeSantis and his administration know full well that CRT is not taught in K-12 schools or workplaces,” said Florida Sen. Shevrin JonesThe ranking Democratic member of the state Senate Education Committee is. “It’s unfortunate that instead of running on forward-looking ideas to improve people’s daily lives, Republicans would rather manufacture a crisis out of a non-issue, all in the hopes of fanning the flames of a culture war for political gain.”
“FFS. Stop creating fake problems @GovRonDeSantis to divide us,” tweeted state Rep. Anna V. Eskami (D), “& start focusing on crises in front of us: exodus of educators, unaffordable housing, awful health disparities, FPL undermining democracy & trying to end net metering, corporations not paying their taxes to name a few.”
Daily Beast Wajahat Ali, a columnist, also condemned the bill. He pointed out that DeSantis was using it as a strategy for attracting political support from racists within his state.
“It’s a racist dog whistle but with a facially neutral cover,” Ali pointed out. “It’ll work in the long run because Democrats refuse to engage in the culture war.”