DeSantis Moves to Ban CRT From Florida’s Public Higher Education

Culture Wars

Florida governor announced reforms that would require education in the state’s public colleges to be “rooted in Western tradition”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced plans to “reform” the state’s public higher education system by banning schools from “supporting campus activities or programs that promote divisive concepts like DEI and CRT.” The proposed reforms are the latest in a string of moves by DeSantis and the Florida Department of Education that target curriculums highlighting diversity and the impact of racism on American history and institutions. 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and Critical Race Theory (CRT) have become racial bogeymen for the reactionary right, who have twisted the academic concepts into a remixed version of historic “reverse racism” fear-mongering.

The new policies proposed by DeSantis would require “any general education course be based on providing a strong educational foundation, and not promote ideological indoctrination.” The policies would further mandate institutions of higher learning to “prioritize graduating students with degrees that lead to high-wage jobs, not degrees designed to further a political agenda.” 

The vague language of the policy is likely intentional, and would give the Florida government widespread discretion to dismantle curriculum and programs that run afoul of the ideological leanings of the state government. The proposed reform also targets tenured professors and, according to DeSantis, requires curricula to be “rooted in Western tradition.”

Earlier this month, the Florida College System (FCS), an organization of 28 public community and state colleges, issued a statement indicating that it would be evaluating and removing any instances of DEI and CRT from its curriculum by February of 2024. “Our institutions will not fund or support any institutional practice, policy, or academic requirement that compels belief in critical race theory or related concepts such as intersectionality,” the statement read. 


DeSantis stoked public outrage this month when the state blocked the College Board from testing a pilot curriculum for an AP African American Studies program in Florida schools. The Florida Department of Education stated that the course “is inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.” 

In a public press conference announcing the reforms, DeSantis stated that CRT bureaucracies and ideology would “wither on the vine” of Florida schools, and touted his administration as “leading by example” for other states.