Is Gov. DeSantis right to deny critical race theory in FL classrooms?


Fact Box

  • Ron DeSantis is Florida’s 46th governor. Before his election in 2018, he served in the US House of the 6th Congressional District in Florida.
  • Critical Race Theory is the belief that institutions are “inherently racist” and that racial inequality stems from white superiority. It was developed by scholars in the 1970s as a response to perceived “slow progress following the Civil Rights Movement” in the 60s.
  • In September 2020, the Trump administration ended CRT training for Federal Government employees, first enacted under President Obama in 2011, calling it “propaganda” for teaching that “any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil.” President Biden reversed the decision via executive order his first day in office. 
  • On March 19, 2021, Governor DeSantis announced his refusal to allow CRT in Florida schools, calling it an “unsanctioned narrative” and mentioning education should “lessen polarization by… giving everyone a common foundation of values.”
  • According to a recent Wall Street Journal poll, 56% of respondents said, 'American society is racist.'

Andrew (No)

In remarks made following his decision to ban Critical Race theory in Florida classrooms, Governor DeSantis demonstrates he fundamentally does not understand critical race theory. DeSantis incorrectly characterized Critical Race Theory as “teaching kids to hate their country and to hate each other.” In reality, the theory attempts to show the roots and persistent effects of systemic racism in nearly all facets of American life. Clearly, Critical Race Theory is looking at ways of rooting out systemic inequalities so that we, as a people, can move toward a more equitable society. This is quite literally the opposite of teaching kids “to hate each other.” DeSantis either doesn’t understand the theory or is intentionally misrepresenting it; either way, he is wrong to ban its teaching.

Rather than focus on headline-grabbing gestures, designed more to fire up his voter base than actually improving the lives of Floridians, Governor DeSantis should work to ease racial tensions in his state. A New York Times poll found that the majority of Floridians believe systemic racism is a major problem. Considering Florida’s long history of racial violence, perhaps systematically evaluating the issue would help spare the next generation from continuing the cycle of racial strife.

Critical Race theory should be taught in schools, and students should also be exposed to criticism of the theory itself. This could be a rich area for discussion and growth toward racial equity; sadly, Governor DeSantis would prefer to halt this progress.

Mandy (Yes)

Governor DeSantis is correct to ban tax-funded state-sponsored racial division (aka, Critical Race Theory) from school curricula in Florida. Through its desire to 'root out systematic racism,' CRT is built on faulty and debunked premises, as CRT asserts that 'the axis of American social life is fundamentally constructed in race. As a result, the economic, political, and historical relationships and arrangements that social actors have to institutions and social processes are all [race-based].' 

CRT is ideologically-driven, misconstruing history to prove its premises. CRT cannot unite people or end racism; its very nature divides. History is unwavering: anytime a country divides its people based on perceived power or racial lines, it only leads to harm. The Armenian Genocide, the Rwandan Tutu genocide, the murder of white Zimbabwean farmers, and the Jewish Holocaust demonstrate this.  

CRT's belief that 'power always subjugates' doesn't prove true when examining American history; majority all-white Congresses have consistently passed minority protections (13th-15th, 19th, 24th, and 26th amendments). If systematic racism was truly America's foundation, then Nigerian immigrants and Asian Americans wouldn't be the most successful minority groups today. 

School curricula should teach past historical missteps in their proper context. Every country had slaves; there is still worldwide slavery today (India, North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, China, and more). Slavery is not unique or foundational to America, as CRT teaches. Schools need to teach honest history, examining worldwide successes and shortfalls of human treatment without disparaging and demonizing one group over another. Whites and Blacks united in their abolition against slavery, and Blacks owned Black slaves. No country that demonizes half its population has any hope of unity. CRT is racist and will only perpetuate racism in America if allowed to go on.

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