Ron DeSantis praises Florida education system, criticizes woke academia in Sarasota speech

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis addressed an audience at New College of Florida in Sarasota on Saturday in a speech touting the state's educational achievements and reforms and disparaging the “woke” hold on academia.

“In the last five and a half years, no state has done more to reform and improve education. … We have taken charge of school choice. We have ensured that schools are open during the COVID, fighting school unions, all that stuff. So it was really, really good.”

New College of Florida, the state's liberal arts college, was the site of a contentious power struggle between the former school administration and the governor, which saw DeSantis seek to remake the institution the image of Hillsdale College in Michigan.

In January 2023, DeSantis appointed a new slate of six board members, including Christopher Rufo, an outspoken activist and critical critic of DEI racial theory.


Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis

Republican presidential candidate and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during a Never Back Down campaign event in Keene, NH on November 21, 2023. (Reuters/Sophie Park/File photo)

DeSantis praised the school's transformation, arguing that “it was so much about ideology. You know, no accountability, no grades, none of that. … It's a public institution .And we not only have a right, we have an obligation.” to ensure our public institutions serve the best interests of the State of Florida.

The governor has aimed to use public resources for what he sees as ideological indoctrination.

“If you want to go to a Marxist commune, if that's what you want to do with your life, who do I tell? But I don't want Florida taxpayers funding that. So we've made some big changes … Which is in the best interest of the state of Florida. And I think what you've seen, I don't think you've seen a more dramatic improvement in any other institution.

DeSantis argued that the school's new vision is akin to the educational philosophy of the country's great writers and thinkers at the dawn of American democracy.

“Our mission is this: We want a liberal arts education rooted in the Western tradition – a classical education similar to what our founding fathers had when they went to college. This is something that I think will attract people not only throughout Florida, but throughout Florida. Across the country.

“I think there's a lot of parents, especially with what we're seeing happening on some of these other college campuses. … Now, college craziness is nothing new, but… since [the Hamas attack on Israel on] On October 7, people realize how crazy this has become.


photo of Newsom, DeSantis

Governors Gavin Newsom and Ron DeSantis (Getty Images)

Referencing nationwide campus protests against the war in Gaza, DeSantis compared Florida's public education system to the perceived permissiveness of the Ivy League and vowed to handle the disruptions toughly.

“Letting the inmates run the asylum doesn't work. So you've seen a disease in these universities. … I've talked to people who are in very, very high positions in finance and all these other things. But [with respect to education] you are better off in Florida than in Columbia or Harvard. …Now they say that, people.

DeSantis has been a leading critic of left-wing bias on college campuses and has frequently clashed with the state's educational institutions.

“What you see in academia is what happens when left-wing ideology infects an institution. It corrupts the institution. … You know, the problem is that the left infects corporate America,” he said. DeSantis said. “It corrupts when it infects the academic world. It corrupts when it infects the medical world.” [establishment]. …When it affects the institutional media, it corrupts.

“Now you have the BLM riots – remember a few years ago? – and you have a CNN reporter standing in front of burning buildings saying this is a mostly peaceful protest. So , the facts are completely out the window. It's ideology.”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks to the media

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks to members of the media after an event July 27, 2023 in Chariton, Iowa. (Sergio Flores for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The governor then turned his attention to state pandemic policy, lambasting the nation's medical establishment for corruption and following a political rather than scientific agenda.

“[During the pandemic], ideology had taken precedence over evidence-based science. … There was an agenda and they played as a team. And you saw the corruption in that. You have seen… the mutilations of minors. This is not in accordance with the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm and to cut off the private parts of a person aged 14. … And few Western countries have done so. Only here you see this…corruption of the medical establishment. »


Finally, the governor credited Florida's COVID policies with sparking a massive influx of people and investment into the state as blue-state residents tired of bigger government, lockdowns and higher taxes.

“Of course, we resisted the consensus on COVID. And, you know, Florida, when COVID started, we were doing well as a state. Most people would rather live in Florida than with the governments of California, New York, Illinois, of course. But the contrast with the way we handled COVID compared to them is that it triggered a massive influx of people, investments and d. “businesses, unlike anything any state has ever seen.”


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