DeFlorida Blueprint: How Ron DeSantis’s schooling insurance policies might form the 2024 race

DeFlorida Blueprint is a five-part collection analyzing the legislative and coverage report of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Because the Florida legislature wraps up its 2023 session, DeSantis is broadly anticipated to declare he’s working for the Republican presidential nomination, placing him on a collision course with former President Donald Trump. The primary a part of this collection will study his report on schooling.

The Florida legislature adjourned from its 2023 legislative session Friday after delivering a want record of conservative payments to the desk of Ron DeSantis forward of an anticipated presidential marketing campaign launch.

Because the summer season of 2020, Florida’s Republican governor, who narrowly received election to his first time period in 2018 earlier than successful a landslide reelection marketing campaign final yr, has anointed himself a trailblazer on Republican schooling coverage, and conservative activists are calling for different Republican-controlled states to observe Florida’s lead.


The Florida blueprint

Terry Schilling, the president of the American Ideas Challenge, a conservative political motion committee, instructed the Washington Examiner that DeSantis’s method to schooling “gives a brand new means ahead for reforming America’s schooling system” and is one which conservatives ought to be aware of.

“The lesson conservatives ought to take away from DeSantis’s schooling agenda is you could and should use the political energy that voters entrust you with after getting elected,” Schilling stated. “For thus lengthy, Republicans have been elected and given energy from the folks to repair America’s issues, and so they virtually by no means used it exterior of giving firms extra tax cuts and to start out extra wars that nobody needs. We must always take this mannequin to each space the place progressives have taken benefit at a minimal to reverse and tear down the damaging establishments and insurance policies they’ve created.”

Florida Legislature
Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks throughout a information convention within the cupboard room on the shut of the 2023 Florida legislative session Friday, Might 5, 2023. (Alicia Devine /Tallahassee Democrat through AP)

Alicia Devine/AP

The pugnacious Florida governor, identified for his squabbles with the press, put himself entrance and middle of the COVID-19 discourse when he ordered all faculties within the Sunshine State to reopen for full in-person lessons 5 days per week in the summertime of 2020.

The order touched off a battle with faculty districts all through the state, lots of which tried to withstand the governor’s directive, however finally DeSantis prevailed. Simply as shortly, a brand new battle started over whether or not or not the districts might require college students to put on masks. The governor promptly signed an government order in the summertime of 2021 prohibiting districts from mandating masks.

In 2021, DeSantis started a legislative and government department coverage push on schooling that continued by way of the 2023 legislative session and has offered him with a considerable report to tout to voters as he’s broadly anticipated to launch a presidential marketing campaign within the coming weeks.

Parental rights

The majority of DeSantis’s coverage reforms have come on the Ok-12 stage, with a number of initiatives producing substantial nationwide press protection, starting along with his push to completely open faculties within the fall of 2020. From there, DeSantis has molded himself as a champion of parental rights, most notably signing into regulation the Parental Rights in Training Act in 2022, which was dubbed the “Do not Say Homosexual” invoice by critics who took concern with a provision that barred classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender id previous to fourth grade.

Ron DeSantis
FILE – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis indicators the Parental Rights in Training invoice at Classical Preparatory faculty on March 28, 2022, in Shady Hills, Fla.

Douglas R. Clifford/AP

The first goal of the regulation was to stipulate the rights of fogeys in class settings and prohibit faculty employees from retaining dad and mom at the hours of darkness about their kid’s well-being in school, together with if the kid wished to determine as a gender that differed from their organic intercourse.

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However the controversial regulation is simply one of many a number of DeSantis has pushed in current legislative periods. He additionally championed efforts to permit navy veterans who haven’t accomplished levels to work as lecturers and pushed for pay raises for lecturers. Within the 2023 legislative session, he additionally pushed for the passage of a “Lecturers Invoice of Rights.”

Curriculum necessities

On the curriculum entrance, DeSantis has signed payments requiring highschool college students to take monetary literacy programs, in addition to implementing extra stringent historical past requirements, together with requiring faculties to show concerning the historical past of communism.

Not all of those reforms have been pushed by way of the legislature. In April, the governor’s Division of Training expanded the restrictions on sexual orientation and gender id content material in school rooms to all grades, constructing on the necessities set for within the 2022 parental rights regulation.

Election 2024 DeSantis
FILE – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis addresses the gang earlier than publicly signing HB7, “particular person freedom,” additionally dubbed the “cease woke” invoice throughout a information convention at Mater Academy Constitution Center/Excessive Faculty in Hialeah Gardens, Fla., April 22, 2022. (Daniel A. Varela/Miami Herald through AP, File)

Daniel A. Varela/AP

In January, the Florida Division of Training offered one more flashpoint of controversy after it blocked the School Board from piloting its Superior Placement African American Research course within the state. The DeSantis administration stated the pilot framework of the course probably violated state regulation attributable to its inclusion of ideas comparable to “Black Queer Research.”

Not everybody agrees along with his ways. Sasha Tirador, a Florida-based Democratic advisor, instructed the Washington Examiner that the Florida governor’s wholehearted embrace of the tradition battle was dangerous to the state however acknowledged it might assist him in a Republican presidential main.

“There’s nothing heroic about what he is finished,” Tirador stated. “This isn’t ‘I believe the curriculum ought to be A, B or C,’ That is ‘I do not assume your youngsters ought to know A, B or C.’ Effectively, that is not so that you can determine; that’s for the native faculty boards to determine, who, by the best way, Mr. Governor, are … elected by [their] native constituents.”

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Faculty selection

In March, DeSantis signed a complete invoice that expanded eligibility for the state’s faculty selection program to all college students, thereby empowering households to cowl schooling prices, together with personal faculty tuition, with state funds.

The common faculty selection program is one space by which Florida has really adopted different Republican-led states. Final yr Arizona turned the primary state to cross common faculty selection and has been joined by Arkansas, Iowa, and Utah this yr.

Jessica Anderson, the chief director of Heritage Motion, famous that underneath DeSantis’s management, Florida earned prime marks within the Heritage Basis’s Training Freedom Report Card.

Florida DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis reacts after signing a invoice to increase faculty vouchers throughout Florida throughout a press convention at Christopher Columbus Excessive Faculty on Monday, March 27, 2023, in Miami. (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald through AP)

Matias J. Ocner/AP

“DeSantis’s coverage agenda has protected kids, empowered dad and mom, and given educators the sources they should set college students up for fulfillment,” Anderson instructed the Washington Examiner. “Apart from banning divisive CRT curriculum and defending college students from inappropriate and radical gender ideology content material, Gov. DeSantis and the Florida legislature have labored collectively to place dad and mom again within the driver’s seat with historic schooling freedom measures and a Parental Invoice of Rights.”

Anderson stated the academic points and insurance policies championed by DeSantis are a key driver of parental engagement within the political course of because the 2024 presidential election looms.

“Voters wish to candidates who’ve a transparent coverage imaginative and prescient and options to the issues they see of their kids’s school rooms,” she stated. “They need a confirmed chief who’s keen to face as much as huge schooling and name out the nonsense being peddled by liberal activists making an attempt to infiltrate our faculty methods. … Each candidate ought to count on this concern to be entrance and middle as we transfer deeper into the 2024 presidential election cycle.”

Greater schooling

The Florida governor’s embrace of the schooling tradition wars additionally stretched into the realm of upper schooling, the place he tried to limit the educating of essential race idea at public universities by way of the STOP WOKE Act, which has encountered quite a few authorized roadblocks as critics have decried the regulation as an assault on educational freedom.

The governor has additionally moved to ban range, fairness, and inclusion bureaucracies, modified the foundations for the way state universities should apply for accreditation, reformed tenure protections for faculty professors, and appointed a bunch of hard-line conservatives to the board of trustees of one of many state’s most liberal faculties.


In January, DeSantis appointed six new members to the board of the New School of Florida and tasked them with remaking the college within the picture of Hillsdale School, a conservative liberal arts faculty in Michigan. The board received proper to work and fired the faculty’s president inside weeks of taking up and employed DeSantis’s former commissioner of schooling to fill the publish on an interim foundation.

Schilling instructed the Washington Examiner that he thought of DeSantis’s appointments to the New School of Florida Board of Trustees among the many most consequential schooling reform efforts the governor has directed since taking workplace in January 2019 and stated it might function a mannequin on the federal stage.

“Probably the most spectacular factor he’s finished is proven conservatives the best way to not be pushovers relating to increased schooling,” Schilling stated. “Conservatives by no means use authorities funds in a productive method to curb left-wing energy grabs. With the New School of Florida, DeSantis is exhibiting conservatives what we might do from the federal stage throughout the nation. It’s lovely.”

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