Parents to be able to sue schools?
Governor DeSantis spoke on December 15 to announce his Stop WOKE Act which, amongst other measures, proposes that Florida's schools can't teach critical race theory. Furthermore, parents of kids who are forced to learn it by schools, could sue the school for overruling their wishes.
Most surprisingly perhaps, given the topic of conversation and the bill, was that he chose to reference the civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr and his famous 'I have a dream' speech.
Stop Woke Act
The DeSantis bill calls for the abandonment (or at least) reduction of measures that encourage so-called 'Woke' culture. Stop WOKE stands for “Stop Wrongs Against Our Kids and Employees” and the legislation would be debated in the 2022 session, starting January 11.
What is critical race theory?
Like many Republican controlled states, Florida has taken issue with the teaching of critical race theory in its schools.
It is an approach to studying U.S. policies and institutions, most often taught in law schools. Its foundations date back to the 1970s, when law professors started exploring how race and racism have shaped American law and society.
The theory proposes that whether intentional or not, racial bias is 'baked into' US laws and institutions. Evidence for the accuracy of the theory is usually cited that Black Americans receive harsher jail sentences and are incarcerated at much higher rates than other races.
The Governor's perspective
As he announced the Stop WOKE act on December 15, Governor DeSantis spoke plainly about why he feels the new legislation is needed.
“It violates Florida standards to scapegoat someone based on their race, to say that they’re inherently racist, to say that they’re an oppressor or oppressed or any of that,”
In June 2021, the Governor and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran pushed a rule to eliminate the teaching of critical race theory from Florida classrooms and instructional materials. This was approved by the Board of Education.
The Stop WOKE act will take this a step further - parents would be able to recover attorney fees if they successfully sue schools that teach critical race theory in defiance of the state.
What happens next?
Whether the Stop WOKE act is approved or not, remains to be seen when the state senate convenes in January.
In the meantime, it seems that Gov DeSantis will continue following the Republican party line as he progresses closer to the 2024 presidential campaign that many now believe is his primary objective.
What do you think about critical race theory? Should it be taught to kids so that they are aware of all perspectives on race and history, or is it dangerous to them? Let me know in the comments section below.