Florida Bans 'Indoctrination' In Teacher-Training Programs

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Monday, May 06, 2024 - 07:45 PM

Authored by Patricia Tolson via The Epoch Times,

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a bill into law on May 2 banning “indoctrination” programs for teachers.

The measure, HB 1291, prohibits programs, courses, and curricula in teacher training from “distorting” historical events or promoting political ideologies regarding race, sex, and gender.

Accredited postsecondary institutions can seek Florida Department of Education approval to create institutes to educate teachers on improving classroom instruction and meeting requirements for certification or recertification.

They can also seek approval for instruction on educating existing and potential substitute teachers on how to perform classroom duties and to teach those with baccalaureate degrees how to become certified.

However, teacher preparation, training, and certification programs will not be allowed to teach “identity politics” or to make claims that systemic racism, sexism, oppression, or white privilege are inherent in America’s culture.

In addition, Gov. DeSantis’s office said in a statement that he is working with Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office to safeguard Florida’s workforce from being subjected to ideological discrimination and harassment.

The governor said he does not believe that companies have the right to force their employees to attend training courses designed to convince them that they are “inherently racist or sexist” or to diminish their sense of self-worth because of their religious or social upbringing.

At a press briefing and signing ceremony at the VyStar Tower in Jacksonville, Mr. DeSantis said he did not want teacher-preparation programs “to become captive to someone’s ideological agenda.”

“This bill prohibits the indoctrination in teacher preparation,” he summarized.

“So, there’s not going to be DEI [diversity, equity and inclusion]. There’s not going to be any of the bogus history. It’s just going to be standard, teacher preparation without having an ideological agenda.”

The law becomes effective on July 1.

‘You Have to Be Precise’

In an interview with The Epoch Times, Jonathan Butcher, the Will Skillman Senior Research Fellow in Education Policy at The Heritage Foundation, said there is ambiguity in the legislation that should be addressed.

It isn’t readily clear in the bill’s introduction which kind of teachers are subject to the mandates. He said it isn’t until the list at the bottom of page two of the bill that you learn it applies to substitute teachers, teachers’ assistants, baccalaureate holders who want to become certified teachers, and college graduates who didn’t major in education.

It applies to part-time and full-time, non-degreed teachers for “career programs” associated with higher education programs, such as technical colleges.

Given the context of this bill, he said, it will be important to make sure definitions are clear and that enforcement is kept “within the bounds of appropriate civil rights law.”

“You have to be precise in your language,” he said. “I think the intent of the bill is laudable. Evidence is clear that teacher training programs regularly use materials that is Marxist in nature.”

“When you look at the terms used in these provisions,” he explained, “it will be incumbent on the State Board of Education to say very precisely what they mean by ‘identity politics’ and what they mean by the word ’distort,‘ because the language says they ’may not distort significant historical events.’

“You should define that whole thing. What does ‘distort’ mean? What does ’significant' mean?”

Other parts of the legislation, he said, are sound, such as the requirement that training courses for teachers cannot  teach students that the United States is built upon racism and is a racist nation.

He noted that Paulo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” has been one of the most assigned books in teacher training programs for 50 years.

“Pablo Freire’s stuff is Marxist. Critical race theory is racially discriminatory,” he said.

Federal grant programs also encouraged teaching critical race theory until public backlash caused them to strip the words from the grant descriptions. But they simply changed the name to social emotional learning.

The U.S. Department of Education announced in 2023 that President Joe Biden’s administration was awarding $14 million in federal grant money to foster more inclusive diversity programs to address racial inequity.

Grants offered by nonprofit organizations like FIRST also push DEI policies in education.

“There is no disputing the idea that teacher training programs use radical ideas that are being passed on to prospective teachers,” Mr. Butcher said.

Mr. Butcher adds that he expects the law to be challenged by leftist groups whose goal, he said, is to establish protected classes, not equality under the law.