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Florida bill would ban critical corporate training on race theory

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The Stop WOKE Act would make CRT training illegal for private companies and public sector employees, as well as in Florida classrooms.

WILDWOOD, Fla. — Governor Ron DeSantis is on the offensive against what his administration calls “corporate awakening” and critical race theory in Florida schools and businesses.

Speaking from Wildwood on Wednesday, DeSantis announced plans for the Stop Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Act, or WOKE Act.

“I view revival as a form of cultural Marxism,” DeSantis said. “They want to delegitimize the founding of the country and the institutions, and they basically want to replace it with a very militant form of leftism that would absolutely destroy this country.”

The Stop WOKE Act would make CRT training an “unlawful employment practice” for private companies and public sector employees under the Florida Civil Rights Act. It also prevents the teaching of CRT in schools.

“Critical race theory” refers to an intellectual movement started by legal scholars as a way to examine how laws and systems maintain and perpetuate inequality for traditionally marginalized groups, according to Time.

In June, the Florida State Board of Education voted unanimously to approve an amendment banning CRT in classrooms.

“The woke class wants to teach kids to hate themselves, rather than teach them to read, but we won’t let them introduce nonsensical ideology into Florida schools,” DeSantis told the state’s BOE ahead of this vote.

Opponents of the proposal include Florida Education Association President Andre Spar, who pushed back against DeSantis’ anti-CRT comments on the Florida Politics SUNRISE podcast.

“The fact remains that we need to discuss race in America, and we should do so in a way that allows for this factual critical thinking that we encourage our students to do,” Spar said.

Others, including Ben Frazier of the Northside Coalition, say DeSantis’ decision is political propaganda and an effort to whitewash history.

“Our students shouldn’t be taught a whitewashed, candy-coated version of history. Teachers should be allowed to teach the truth,” Frazier said at a rally outside Duval County Public Schools in July.

According to a press release from DeSantis’ office, the Stop WOKE Act:

  • Codifies Florida Department of Education ban on teaching critical race theory in K-12 schools
  • Prohibits school districts, colleges and universities from hiring woke CRT consultants
  • Protects employees from a hostile work environment through critical race theory training
  • Provides employees, parents and students with a private right of action
  • Strengthens the enforcement authority of the Florida Department of Education

“We have a responsibility to stand up for the truth, to stand up for what is right,” DeSantis said. “And we are doing that and we’ve put more resources and emphasis on teaching civics to teach people about American history. But we also have to protect people and protect our children from some very that are trying to be imposed on them all over the country.”

Florida Education Association (FEA) President Andrew Spar released this statement Wednesday in response to Governor DeSantis’ announcement:

“Teachers are trained and experienced in the education of children and have a duty to prepare their students to contribute successfully to society. Teachers should have the freedom to teach honest and comprehensive facts about historical events such as slavery and civil rights without being censored by politicians. Today’s Governor’s announcement goes against this fundamental American value. All children in Florida should receive an evidence-based education that does not change based on their zip code.

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