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DeSantis unveils higher education plan to remove 'indoctrination' from state universities

The governor's plan includes blocking programs that promote critical race theory and diversity, equity and inclusion.

BRADENTON, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis unveiled a plan on Tuesday to remove what he calls "indoctrination" from Florida's higher education system — a move that aligns with a controversial law he promoted last year restricting race-based conversation in the classroom.

While speaking at the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota campus, the governor said state-funded higher education should not be about "imposing ideological conformity" and promoting "political activism" like most of the country believes.

Instead, DeSantis said, the focus should be "academic excellence, the pursuit of truth, and to give students the foundation so that they can think for themselves."

The governor hopes to achieve this through a higher education reform plan that proposes changes to college-level coursework, staffing and hiring procedures. The plan includes reworking general education course requirements to ensure they are "rooted in the values of liberty and the western tradition."

According to the governor, this means the courses cannot promote "ideological indoctrination" with concepts like critical race theory (CRT) or diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Campus activities or programs centered around these concepts would also be prohibited.

"We are also going to eliminate all DEI and CRT bureaucracies in the state of Florida. No funding — and that will wither on the vine," DeSantis said at the news conference. 

Under the plan, state colleges and universities would have to prioritize degrees that lead to high-paying jobs, not degrees that "further a political agenda."

“We don’t want students to go through a taxpayer expense and graduate with a degree in zombie studies," DeSantis added.   

The governor noted that a judge in August blocked a portion of his "Stop WOKE Act," which bans school lessons or workplace training that could make people feel discomfort or guilt about race. 

The judge said the law was vague and a violation of the First Amendment, but DeSantis on Tuesday said he's confident the law will be reinstated once the state wins the appeal.

DeSantis' plan also includes $15 million for staff and student recruitment at New College of Florida, followed by $10 million recurring annually. 

New College, known for its creative coursework, has been at the center of recent debate after DeSantis appointed six new trustees to turn the school into a more traditional liberal arts college, modeled after conservative favorite Hillsdale College in Michigan. 

You can watch the governor's full news conference below.

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