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Florida’s Censorship of Education is Vehemently Anti-Democratic

James C. Svehla
Flickr | James C. Svehla

In a loathsome and uneducated decision, Florida’s state university system ruled that students can no longer take “Principles of Sociology” to fulfill their core course requirements. Students shouldn’t miss out on educational opportunities because of decisions that lack defensible grounds and are clearly politically motivated.

The course was removed from a selection of seven classes that were available to ensure that all students graduate with a comprehensive and well-rounded education. Among the 12 institutions affected include The University of Florida and Florida State University, both of which have an enrollment of more than 40,000 students annually.

Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz Jr. charged that “Sociology has been hijacked by left-wing activists and no longer serves its intended purpose as a general knowledge course for students,” after delivering the surprise amendment that immediately went to the full board for approval and subsequently passed.

Commissioner Diaz and all those who celebrated the success of this senseless attack on the Floridian education system demonstrate their commitment to riling up a conservative base via authoritarian censorship over making informed decisions for the state.

In place of the removed course, the 17-member board of governors, 14 of whom are directly appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis, approved a “factual history course.” The new course will supposedly cover America’s founding, the horrors of slavery and the Reconstruction era, as iterated by The New York Times.

However considering DeSantis’ deplorable reputation for sanitizing the narratives of American slavery within Florida’s state curriculum, the new course hardly promises to be “factual” or to equate to a fair switch.

On Feb. 1, the American Sociological Association responded to the state’s actions, labeling the decision a “grave error” and stressing that the politicization of education is a dangerous practice for democracy.

A mainly unelected Board of Governors ignored pleas for an evidence-based argument, highlighting Florida’s hypocritical commitment to creating a false narrative that only suits their beliefs. In Florida, democracy within these processes is a forgotten thought.

Once again Florida officials selfishly prioritize securing political power by undermining education, which is inherently totalitarian.

Commissioner Diaz went on to assert that Florida’s higher education system has since been improved, claiming that the university system will focus on preparing students for high demand and high-wage jobs, not “woke ideology.”

Diaz’s overarching ignorant statement is completely reprehensible. Sociologists are needed in numerous job sectors including finance, technology and medicine. In fact, sociological concepts account for 10% of the MCAT, the entrance exam needed for medical school.

No other discipline examines the injustices of the class system, the nuances of human behavior and identities with the ferocity of sociology. A heightened understanding of sociological concepts proves invaluable in every sector, enabling students of the subject to be more than qualified to become high-demand, high-wage workers who are best equipped to serve society.

The political right’s attempt to equate leftism to danger for the country is just loud but volatile noise that attempts to draw audiences away from its slow descent into fascism.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody commended her state’s efforts to eradicate LGBTQ+ books from school shelves, comparing it to protecting children from “Nazi propaganda,” according to a report from last year. Using such language so freely to harass and humiliate the LGBTQ+ community creates baits for extremists to elicit violence.

Conservatives often define woke ideology as an aggressive political movement that emphasizes progressive politics, social justice activism and an awareness of inequalities within our society. However, the very ideas demonized by the political right consist of all of the potential tools that could be used to save it.

The fight to preserve academic integrity must fiercely proliferate throughout every corner of the education system in Florida and the rest of the United States to immortalize our democracy.

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