November 29, 2022

IT AIN’T PRETTY: Portrait of DeSantis as a young teacher raises concerns

Portrait of DeSantis as a young teacher

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Partying with underage students, pulling pranks, and arguing that the Civil War was not about slavery. That’s the Ron DeSantis students remember.

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In a cozy corner of Atlanta – within the district of one Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (you may have heard of her), there rests an elite, 500-acre boarding academy known as the Darlington School, with tuition fees of over $50,000 nowadays.

Some twenty years ago, a young, enterprising Yale graduate who would soon be on his way to Harvard Law took a year to teach there, often bragging to students that it was just a stopover on his way toward bigger and better things and that perhaps he would even be president one day, he said. His name: Ron DeSantis.

As The New York Times reported today, DeSantis taught five classes, coached the baseball and football teams, and supervised a dorm. After the paper spoke with many of DeSantis’s former students and colleagues, what emerged is a picture of a young man who was charming, opinionated, clearly irresponsible, and arguably quite racist.

As a 23-year-old teacher, DeSantis appeared at parties, former students said, where underage drinking was going on.

One recalled thinking, “What are you doing here, dude?” Evidently, the young teacher was eager to be liked and was willing to do whatever it took to be so – not much different than today, really.

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One story has DeSantis daring a student to drink as much as he could – not alcohol, thankfully – but milk. The student wound up puking all over the place while “dozens of students watched.”

The vibe he gave off, one Darlington grad, Matthew Arne, remembered, was “I’m kind of better than you.” It usually didn’t take long for him to mention he was a Yale grad.

Still, some students really liked DeSantis. He was caring and charismatic some said, making them better students and better teammates. He told them that hard work would ultimately bring results.

But not all students found him so inspiring. One who was in his class, a scholarship student from New York by the name of Danielle Pompey, found DeSantis to be passively hostile to her, which she believes was because she is black. She also felt DeSantis taught about the Civil War in a way that sought to justify or minimize slavery.

Other students also appear to have recognized DeSantis’s minimalization of slavery, even going so far as to make a mocking video about it, with a student playing DeSantis remarks, “The Civil War was not about slavery! It was about two competing economic systems!”

There were also reports of DeSantis getting basic facts about the Civil War wrong.

This is not to say that the person you are as a young man or woman is always the person you’ll be later on. But sometimes it does give a decent indication, especially when we see the same traits emerging.

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Dirty Donald, for instance, is pretty much the same bully he was back when he attended New York Military Academy.

And his fascist-lite counterpart, DeSantis, certainly hasn’t seemed to stray from the charming, but racist and irresponsible teacher he was at 23.

Hearing this, Democrats say “That’s disqualifying.”

Republicans say, “Let’s make that man president!”

Ronnie boy probably doesn’t like Ross too much right now. But you should – on Twitter! Follow him at @RossRosenfeld

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