MISEDUCATION: How the DeSantis administration is destroying a Florida college

MISEDUCATION: How the DeSantis administration is destroying a Florida college

New College of Florida Board of Trustee member, Eddie Speir — recently appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis along with five other conservatives — has some big plans for the liberal-leaning institution of higher education, including ousting the current college president and hiring an entirely new faculty.

Speir detailed his intentions to shake up the school’s so-called “woke” curriculum via a post on the trustee’s online blog.

According to  Speir, “wokeness is a set of beliefs concerning the nature of the universe containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs,” as defined by Dictionary.com.

“Ergo religion,” he wrote.

In an attempt to separate the meaning of the word into “shared values, and “dogmatic” principles, Speir insists that shared value aspects of wokeness will be supported, and diversity in education upheld.

“These aspects should be incorporated and included in our curriculum,” he writes. “They should also be supported in extra-curricular programs and activities.”

These are comments that are in direct contradiction to statements made almost immediately after in the post, where Speir criticizes the teaching of institutional and systemic racism and says that the “dogmatic expression of wokeness must be torn down.”

“Aspects of wokeness that are in essence pledges of fealty. These aspects should be actively fought against; furthermore, curriculum, programs and activities should be made that express the dangers of these aspects and equips students to fight against them in defense of Florida’s constitution,” Speir writes.

Speir’s previous request to hold a prayer at the start of the board’s meetings was initially shot down, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.

But according to the trustee’s blog, the decision was later reversed after further review.

This didn’t stop Speir from criticizing the board’s current chair, Mary Ruiz – calling for her resignation after it was decided that the prayer would be conducted by the college’s pastor.

Speir’s request to hold the prayer himself was ultimately rejected.

“I suppose that is the Chair’s prerogative. I disagree and find it to be less constitutional since the campus pastor is more established in his religion than the trustee who requested prayer in the first place, but so be it,” he said.

“My concern is that Chair Ruiz will not resign and/or delay resignation,” he wrote. “Thereby halting and/or delaying the necessary clarity that NCF needs as soon as possible.”

One of the first items on the new trustee’s agenda to overhaul the school and its infrastructure is to declare a financial emergency that will allow the contracts of all current faculty, staff, and members of the New College administration to be terminated.

Those meeting the progressive institution’s new business and financial model are eligible for immediate rehire.

Sounds a lot like blackmail.

The board’s first meeting last Wednesday was almost derailed after Speir reportedly received a death threat, but the conservative made the decision to soldier on.

Held at the Mildred Sainer Music and Arts Pavilion on the school’s Sarasota campus, approximately 200 attendees packed the house.

Speir isn’t alone in his quest to remake the liberal arts college in the image of the more conservative Hillsdale College.

New appointees, Christopher Rufo, and Ryan Anderson — both who have vocalized anti-LGBTQ sentiment — join their like-minded colleagues.

Anderson, who was appointed by the Florida Board of Governors, is the author of the anti-transgender book When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment, while Rufo is known for his far-right views on racial and transgender issues.

“We have a mandate from Gov. DeSantis,” Rufo said before the meeting, according to the Herald-Tribune. “He gave us a pep talk recently, he said: ‘Look, I have an overwhelming mandate from the people of Florida. You are constitutional officers appointed by the governor. You have a political, a moral, and a governing mandate to reform this institution.'”

Not exactly a hit with the crowd, Rufo was heckled by attendees after unsubstantiated claims that a Christian student allegedly told the conservative activist they were bullied and forced to leave campus.

“Bullshit!” a member of the crowd shouted.

Other audience members shouted “you’re a child” and “liar” after various Rufo remarks.

New College graduate, Liz Bates, cited inflammatory rhetoric posted on social media by Rufo where he allegedly likens LGBTQ members to pedophiles.

Though he denied believing that gay and transgender individuals are a threat when asked by Bates — and claims his statements have been taken out of context — Rufo has used the term “grooming” in his advocacy.

Speir also wants the long-running newspaper USA TODAY and its nationwide network of papers removed from the college’s list of approved media until the media issues an apology, and vows to “adhere to its own policies.”

Whatever that means.

Gov. DeSantis is taking his war on education from the local public school level to higher education in a continued violation of the First Amendment rights of Floridians.

With rumors that the Florida Republican is gearing up for a 2024 run at the Presidency, it appears DeSantis is putting like-minded allies into power positions who will be able to carry on the fascist-leaning former Trump ally’s attack on Florida institutions and do his dirty anti-woke work.

Original reporting by Jacob Ogles at Florida Politics.

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Ty Ross

News journalist for Washington Press and Occupy Democrats.