Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is taking his war on the Florida education system to another level with talk of him installing controversial State Representative Randy Fine (R-Brevard) as head of Florida Atlantic University.
“Rep. Fine has been a leader on education issues,” communications director, Taryn Fenske told the Times/Herald. “We think he’d be a good candidate for the role.”
Fine has been publicly critical of diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, and has sponsored bills that would ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth and critical race theory.
“Rep. Randy Fine is known for intemperate outbursts, bigotry-baiting and vengeful feuds. This time, he’s gone too far,” wrote the Sun-Sentinel, which deemed him “The Bully of Brevard County,” after Fine called a school board member a “whore.”
The former gaming executive told the right-wing blog, The Florida Standard, that he is being encouraged to apply for the position by Gov. DeSantis who thinks Fine would fit nicely in the role.
“I have been approached about the position. It’s obviously very flattering for the governor to want me to do this. It’s something I will consider seriously.” – Rep. Fine
The DeSantis administration, in concert with the state’s Republican-controlled legislature, has been aggressive in pushing a GOP-led agenda against public education – as evidenced by the fight over New College Florida in Sarasota.
In a move that has concerned students and educators across the country, DeSantis appointed six new board members to the liberal arts college, who wasted no time firing staff and installing a new president in an attempt to remake the left-leaning school in the image of the conservative – and Christian – Hillsdale College in Michigan.
With his position on important education budget committees, Rep. Fine has pushed for the expansion of Florida’s school choice program which some say is designed to defund the public school system.
“We think Rep. Fine will not be a good fit,” United Faculty of Florida’s Andrew Gothard said.
As president of Florida’s higher education union, Gothard expressed hope that the 15-person committee tasked with finding FAU’s next president will “look elsewhere.”
A vocal critic of Critical Race Theory (CRT) Fine has denounced teaching the intersectionality of systemic racism, and the judicial system at all levels.
“We do not believe taxpayer money in the state of Florida should be used to advance this racist, evil ideology,” Fine claimed. “There are limits to what is acceptable in the discussion of academic freedom,” he added in defense of his position.
Though it’s a graduate-level course, CRT has been used as the perennial boogeyman to whip up the base – using it as an excuse to remove important moments, and people in Black American history from the classroom.
The committee is continuing its search despite the speculation surrounding Fine’s potential candidacy.
Applicants are kept confidential during the process.
“Rep. Fine is a wonderful servant to his constituency and the state, however, the FAU Presidential Search Committee will follow a strict process to determine FAU’s ninth president. We will follow th process in accordance with state law, and we will search far and wide.” – Joshua Glanzer
Republicans are slowly but surely infiltrating Florida’s institutions of higher learning.
Former Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) has taken the reins as president of the University of Florida, and Florida Republicans have made it known that he has no plans on holding back in his war on “woke.”
According to Fine, his proposed legislation targeting state colleges and educators with is “needed to prove the point.”
If that point is to think like the representative and Gov. Ron DeSantis or face retribution – it’s been made all too clearly.
The news of Fine’s potential installation at FAU comes as the school’s male basketball team heads to the Final Four after beating Kansas State. This is only the university’s second appearance in the NCAA tournament – the last time was nearly 20 years ago in 2002.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are important factors in college education to insure students from all walks of life have access to higher education and increase their visibility and voice.
Florida’s state colleges and universities are home to multiple championship-winning sports teams, and it’s time to pushback against GOP attempts to undermine public education and consider enrolling in a more welcoming and fascist free state.
Original reporting by Ana Ceballos at the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau and Jimena Tavel at the Miami Herald.
Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick