Is FL right to pass the ‘Stop WOKE Act’?
- On March 9, 2022, Florida legislature passed the “Stop WOKE Act” (text here) in a 24-15 vote which limits the discussion of critical race theory and its ideals in the classroom. Governor Ron DeSantis stated, “We won’t allow Florida tax dollars to be spent teaching kids to hate our country or to hate each other. We also have a responsibility to ensure that parents have the means to vindicate their rights when it comes to enforcing state standards.”
- On December 15, 2021, Gov. DeSantis first announced the Stop of Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (WOKE) Act to counter The New York Times’ 1619 Project and critical race theory (CRT).
- In a 2021 Economist/YouGov survey of 1,500 Americans, 58% opposed CRT while 38% were in favor. The majority of Black people found it to be favorable with a contrast of 31% for White people.
- CRT 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.
Rather than courageously confronting the damages that decades of overt and structural racism have caused, Governor DeSantis and the Florida legislature have spinelessly chosen 'White comfort' over necessary education in diversity and history. The bill essentially criminalizes forward-thinking diversity programs such as Disney's 'Reimagine Tomorrow' program by barring training that explores whether 'an individual's…status as either privileged or oppressed is necessarily determined by his or her race, color, sex, or national origin.' Corporations doing this type of work should be supported and celebrated for the benefits they bring to society, not criminalized.
This bill will also impact classrooms. Slavery happened, and it was a vile practice. It is critical that children gain a factual and truthful education; simply because something might make a child uncomfortable is no reason to avoid it. Instead of whitewashing history and avoiding these feelings, we should guide children with mindfulness. Asking questions like, 'why does this make you feel uncomfortable?' would undoubtedly lead to more resilient children.
Finally, this bill is an obvious political ploy, as evidenced by the painfully awkward choice of words in the title to make an acronym for 'woke,' one of the GOP's favorite punching bags. While this may excite the more fanatical elements of base voters for the Florida GOP and Governor DeSantis, it doesn't do the public any good. When elected leaders play politics with education, everybody loses. Further, these biased, racially insensitive, and revisionist approaches to diversity education are more at home in societies run by the likes of Stalin and Chairman Mao than the United States. Passing this bill shows that the Florida GOP wants their own 'cultural revolution,' a policy all but guaranteed to be disastrous for LGBTQ+ and minority individuals.
Florida's state government is absolutely right to pass the 'Stop WOKE Act' to ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in their public schools. The United States Constitution does not explicitly delegate education. Therefore, the 10th amendment leaves education as a responsibility of the states. This means that Florida is well within its rights to ban an individual theory or a set of assumptions, as found in CRT, from being taught in their public schools.
Teaching CRT would be incredibly harmful to our society as it shifts the focus away from teaching kids the basics of education (like learning to read, write, and do basic math) to instead promoting Leftist beliefs, such as those found in critical race theory and gender ideology. Republicans (and everyone who cares about preserving American values) should continue blocking the dangerous beliefs coming out of CRT from remaining in the classrooms. CRT teaches people to divide themselves among racial lines, fueling more racial resentment and division among citizens rather than bringing people together, recognizing the good things America provides for everyone and stands for. Schools should be unifying our children, not pitting them against each other or teaching them to hate and distrust America.
Finally, the bill does not ban history or the teaching of American slavery and other racial ills committed by this nation. Rather, it bans the theoretical commentary that divides students racially into oppressors and oppressed. Florida parents can still teach CRT to their kids if they truly think its claims are legitimate. America needs to come together; more states should pass bills similar to this one.