Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been on a bill signing spree since the end of the legislative session, and the results have been mixed.
While he signed a bill going against diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) on public colleges and universities, as well as the Florida Department of Education nixing two books that cover the Holocaust, DeSantis also signed a bill that requires the teaching of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) history.
No to DEI
On May 15, DeSantis signed a bill that barring public colleges and universities from spending funds on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), nor can they “promote or engage in political of social activism.”
During a press conference at New College in Sarasota, NPR reported that the governor said, “If you look at the way this has actually been implemented across the country, DEI is better viewed as standing for discrimination, exclusion and indoctrination … and that has no place in our public institutions.”
This comes as no surprise, as he has been on a rampage against DEI programming for months. Members of the Divine Nine, a coalition of Black fraternities and sororities founded over a century ago when they were not allowed to join Greek life on campus, voiced their concern about their future on Florida college campuses with the passage of the bill
Yes to AAPI
However, days earlier on May 9, DeSantis signed a general education bill that would mandate the teaching of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) history in Florida schools. Specifically, the bill includes the history of Japanese Americans who were forcibly placed in internment camps, AAPI identity and culture, and the contributions of AAPI people to American society.
The public was quick to point out that AP African American Studies has been banned from Florida high schools, as DeSantis and other leaders said the lesson content had a “political agenda.” Specifically, the inclusion of queer theory in the course.
In a press conference, DeSantis addressed the controversy by pointing out that one of the course subjects covers queer theory.
“Now, who would say that an important part of black history is queer theory? That is somebody pushing an agenda on our kids,” he said. “We believe in teaching kids facts and how to think, but we don’t think they should have an agenda forced on them.”
No to ‘Woke’ Holocaust Books
Another decision made impacting education was rejecting two high school textbooks that cover the Holocaust. “Modern Genocides” was denied because it covered social justice and critical race theory, according to the Jewish Telegraph Agency. The second was “The History of the Holocaust;” the publisher told JTA that it would be appealing the state’s decision.
In a press release from the Department of Education, it shared that it approved 66 of the 101 books submitted for review. However, that was after the department worked with publishers to update their materials to align with Florida law — before the edits, only 19 of 101 were approved.
A middle school textbook was used as an example by the department, showing that the question “What social justice issues are included in the Hebrew Bible?” was edited. In another example, an entire section discussing Black Lives Matter and the death of George Floyd was removed. The department categorized it under “unsolicited topics.”