2 February 2024

Iflorida is currently the epicenter of a global offensive against higher education. What happens there is the amplified replica of a phenomenon at work from one end of the planet to the other. By attacking public universities, the Republican Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, probable candidate for the American presidential election of 2024, places his state at the forefront of democratic regression in the world.

Ron DeSantis has made antiwokism the spearhead of his action, the principle that guides his vision of education and business life. His project is part of the long history of racial and sexual discrimination in the state of Florida.

The institutional framework that now allows DeSantis to fundamentally transform higher education has been in the making for decades: it was put in place by Jeb Bush when he was governor (1999-2007) of this state, with the support of extremely wealthy donors. In Florida, the Republican Party governs the state, controls both chambers of the state legislature and holds the majority of state seats in Congress in Washington. Florida, which has often tipped the result of the presidential election, is, in fact, a one-party state.

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In recent years, the state legislature and the DeSantis government have used their broad educational prerogatives to decide what topics can be covered on campuses and in classrooms. Under the pretext of protecting pupils and students, the new provisions give more power to parents while restricting the room for maneuver of teachers.

In 2018, after student and faculty protested the visit of neo-Nazi Richard Spencer to the University of Florida campus, the state legislature passed a law allowing lecturers to sue universities for cancellation or interruption of their intervention. This text, which must be placed in the context of a national campaign led by think tanks and far-right activists, gave arms to provocateurs outside the university and criminalized protesters. In 2021, the state legislature expanded this text, which now allows students to film or record professors without their knowledge during their courses, and obliges public universities to submit to an annual evaluation in order to measure the ideological positioning. teachers.

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