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DeSantis Draws Protests in Florida

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, shown at a recent Republican primary debate in Wisconsin, has sparked controversy with his views on education. 

Last May, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced his intention to run for President of the United States. Since then, the Florida Republican has struggled to connect with voters. In recent polls, DeSantis has lagged behind frontrunner Donald J. Trump, the disagraced former President. 

A dozen candidates are vying for the Republican nomination. So far, Trump is in the lead. The winner of the primary elections will likely face President Joseph R. Biden, the Democratic incumbent, in the 2024 election. 

Trump is running despite facing several legal challenges, including attempting to overturn the 2020 election, which Biden won. 

On August 23, DeSantis joined seven other top Republican candidates at a primary debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Trump refused to participate in the discussion. The candidates spoke about climate change, the economy, education, immigration, and the war in Ukraine. DeSantis was among several candidates who said they would support a Trump presidency. 


“I want a good education, not a fake one,” says Ariel G., a 14-year-old student from Parkland, Florida. 


DeSantis is a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School. But after winning two terms as Governor of Florida, he has drawn controversy for the restrictions he has placed on what students can learn in the classroom. In recent years, his administration has sought to limit the teaching of African American history, saying that it is divisive. Roughly 300 titles have been removed from school libraries because they have been deemed inappropriate by DeSantis and other conservatives. 

Ariel G. is a 14-year-old high school student in Parkland, Florida. She disagrees with the restrictions DeSantis has put on education. “While he claims this is to ‘protect the children,’” Ariel said, “in reality, his true intention is to prevent children from learning about historical events and more recent issues that conservatives don’t agree with.” 

An Advanced Placement (AP) psychology course also has been singled out because of content about human sexuality. “Students will not be fully educated on important topics,” Ariel said. “This seems to go against the First Amendment, since DeSantis seeks to censor information. I want a good education, not a fake one.” 

A Florida teacher who didn’t want to be named also expressed concern about some actions the Governor has taken. “I like DeSantis. I voted for him, and I’ve supported him all this time,” the teacher said. “But I don’t understand what he’s doing. With AP, it’s a college-level class. Students at that age are able to listen and learn from a lecture . . . and establish their own opinions where necessary. It’s never been an issue in the past. I don’t know why it is now.”

Many educators, students, and parents are fighting back. A new nonprofit organization called the Miami Center for Racial Justice is protesting the Governor’s efforts to censor Black history. They are holding rallies and protests around the state. 

“I do believe that kids should know the truth about how this nation came about, and then they can form their own opinion afterwards,” Miami teacher and parent Juana Jones recently told ABC News. “There’s a level of trauma, and I do believe that everyone should know the truth in middle [and] high school.” 





Top photo courtesy of the Fox News Channel; bottom photo courtesy of the author