Ideologues like Ron DeSantis aren’t angry at politics in education; they’re angry their politics don’t have a monopoly
The rightwing governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, and his administration recently blocked a proposed black studies course for advanced placement high school students, as well as announced policies that would inhibit state universities from teaching programming about racial diversity, equity and inclusion or so-called “critical race theory”. These moves follow on the heels of Florida’s “don’t say gay” legislation, last year, restricting teachers from discussing sexual orientation.
DeSantis and other conservative politicians argue that they are saving America’s young from leftwing indoctrination, and that students should instead be exposed to “civic education” that extolls a patriotic vision of America. When DeSantis and his growing number of acolytes present themselves as champions of civic education, however, they are in fact undermining the whole point of civics: not to make children “patriotic” or just fill brains with facts (how many branches of government are there again?), but to enable individuals to be fearless, critical citizens.
Jan-Werner Müller teaches at Princeton and is a Guardian US columnist. His most recent book is Democracy Rules