Our most recent book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. The early stages of the 2024 race have begun.
Last year several professors and a student filed a suit against Florida’s Stop WOKE Act of 2022—which prohibits Florida’s teachers from promoting eight controversial propositions about race, color, national origin or sex—on the grounds that it violated the First Amendment. In response, Mr. DeSantis’s lawyers argued that “a public university’s curriculum is set by the university in accordance with the strictures and guidance of the state’s elected officials.”
Accordingly, they claimed, “the Florida government has simply chosen to regulate its own speech—the curriculum used in state universities and the in-class instruction offered by state employees—and the First Amendment simply has no application in this context.”
If this argument were to prevail, American public universities would more closely resemble Chinese state universities, where what faculty members say is certainly “government speech.” The line between education and indoctrination would be blurred further.
To be sure, Mr. DeSantis may not bear direct responsibility for the arguments his lawyers made on his behalf. But he is responsible for selecting his principal education advisers and for relying on their views.
Consider Richard Corcoran, former Florida education commissioner and now interim president of New College, an institution over which Mr. DeSantis has asserted direct control. Education, Mr. Corcoran said in a speech to Hillsdale College’s National Leadership Seminar, is “100% ideological.” If so, the only question is which ideology will dominate. Not surprisingly, Mr. Corcoran went on to describe education as “our sword.”