DeSantis Planned Sweeping Assault on Autonomy of Public Colleges in FloridaBreaking News
tags: Florida, academic freedom, Ron DeSantis, University of Florida
Jason Garcia is Florida's leading corporate-accountability reporter. He is the author of Big Profits, Tiny Taxes, which exposed how corporations dodge taxes, and a 2021 series tracing dark-money used in a “ghost candidate" election scheme.
Over the past year, Gov. Ron DeSantis and his allies in the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature have been on a crusade against public universities, tarring them as “intellectually repressive” and “socialism factories.”
They have passed laws ordering community colleges and state universities to dig up details about the personal political beliefs of their employees, making it harder for professors to maintain tenure, interfering with university accreditation, and threatening funding for schools that don’t fall in line with the governor’s efforts to control the teaching of slavery, segregation and institutional racism.
And DeSantis may just be getting started.
Records obtained through a series of public-records requests show that DeSantis’ office recently developed a sweeping plan to overhaul higher-education oversight in Florida. The governor’s proposal would have centralized more power in boards run by the governor’s political appointees, made colleges and universities more dependent on money controlled by politicians in Tallahassee, and imposed more restrictions on what schools can teach.
The DeSantis plan would have even stripped university presidents of the ability to hire professors.
Higher education isn’t the governor’s only potential target.
The records show that DeSantis’ staff also drew up proposals targeting newspapers, state attorneys and school boards. They devised plans to take control of everything from local toll-road agencies to high-school sports. And amidst it all, they wanted to make it harder to legally challenge the governor’s own authority.
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