TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – When Florida lawmakers start the annual 60-day legislative session on Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis will be pushing an agenda which includes cementing in law a prohibition on teaching critical race theory in Florida classrooms.
During a nationally televised interview on Fox News' "Life, Liberty & Levin," which aired Sunday night, DeSantis said those in favor of critical race theory "want kids to hate this country. They want them to reject our founding, our institutions, and they want to replace that with their leftist ideology, which would obviously be disastrous for this country's future," he told host Mark Levin.
Critical race theory, which many Democrats argue is not taught in Florida classrooms, is based on a premise that racism is embedded in American institutions.
The State Board of Education approved a rule in June to eliminate critical race theory from Florida classrooms and instructional materials.
Now the governor says the push for legislative action would strengthen the ability for enforcement against those who teach it.
In addition, DeSantis said, under the proposal, parents would be able to recover attorney fees if they successfully sue schools that teach critical race theory in defiance of the state.
"We're going to give parents the ability to go in and get legal relief if they're not following our state standards with respect to history and government. And I think empowering parents to be involved, making sure parents have a right to inspect the curriculum, and it's not just about critical race theory. I mean, there's a lot of other inappropriate content that can be smuggled in by public schools, and in some parts of the country have a way worse than Florida in that regard," said DeSantis.
In addition to public schools, DeSantis said the proposal would prohibit colleges and universities from hiring critical-race theory consultants, which the governor argued is a "cottage industry" designed to provide training to teachers and professors.
Republicans throughout the country have rallied behind opposition to critical race theory. But Democrats have largely criticized DeSantis, who is running for re-election in 2022, on the issue.
"Let's be clear, Gov. DeSantis and his administration know full well that CRT (critical race theory) is not taught in K-12 schools or workplaces," Sen. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, said in a statement in December. "It's unfortunate that instead of running on forward-looking ideas to improve people's daily lives, Republicans would rather manufacture a crisis out of a non-issue, all in the hopes of fanning the flames of a culture war for political gain."
Rep. Ramon Alexander, a Tallahassee Democrat who will become the party's House leader after the November elections, said proposing such a law about critical race theory strengthens the argument for teaching about institutional racism.
"The mere fact that an institution could utilize laws to stop the truth from being told is a justification that we still have structural and institutional racism in America. So, we're going to focus on making sure that our teachers and our public school system have the resources that they need," Alexander said.
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