The DeSantis Administration has never shied away from courting controversy on education policy.
In fact, the governor seems to relish the attention his moves have received, and on Wednesday, his stances were under the spotlight again, as the president of the American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten flew down from Washington and blasted the governor for what she calls weaponizing public education.
“And we would ask the governor, instead of smearing teachers, instead of calling them names, roll up your sleeves and work with us to actually help kids thrive,” Weingarten said at a news conference.
So what’s she talking about? Labels from the DeSantis administration, such as calling teachers “groomers.” For example, a few weeks ago, the governor said, “We have drawn a clear line in the sand that says our school system is for educating kids, not indoctrinating kids.”
On the campaign trail, DeSantis touts his education record, saying his administration has increased teacher pay, given parents more say, and ended FSA testing.
Weingarten says under policies such as the Parental Rights in Education law, the so-called “don’t say gay” law, and the Stop Woke Act, culture war issues are singling out and dividing students at a time when all of them need more attention than ever.
“The people who are standing behind me,” Weingarten said, surrounded by Broward Teachers Union members. “They want to teach kids, they want to make a difference in kids’ lives, they didn’t come into teaching to be demagogues, to be dehumanized, to be smeared.”
One complaint Weingarten says she’s hearing from teachers is that the new Florida laws have them questioning what they can say in class.
“It’s intended to chill the teaching of honest history and it’s intending to stop teachers from being able to answer questions from students,” she said.
“I would tell ‘em to read Florida statutes,” DeSantis said at a campaign event Tuesday. “We are required to teach slavery, the post-reconstruction and segregation, civil rights, those are core parts of American history that should be taught, but it should also be taught accurately.”
That’s a big part of the DeSantis argument. When he says accurately, he says he means without critical race theory injected into it, even though CRT has never been a part of the K-12 curriculum in Florida.
Weingarten said the state’s policies are part of the reason there’s a teacher shortage in Florida.
News Read More: National Teachers Union Head Blasts DeSantis Education Policy