Newly elected school board members backed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have acted quickly: They immediately moved to fire school superintendents in three districts.
Which brings to mind several statements: “All politics is local” (former House Speaker Thomas “Tip” O’Neal). “Elections have consequences” (former President Barack Obama). “Florida is the state where woke goes to die” (DeSantis regarding conservative takeovers of school boards).
School mask mandates imposed contrary to orders by the governor and parental opposition to critical race theory and student indoctrination into LGBT agendas have been flashpoint issues for conservatives, according to Fox News.
“We had a wave in school districts that spit in parents’ faces,” said Republican state Rep. Randy Fine of Palm Bay, as reported by Politico. “And now the people who did that are gone.”
Teachers unions and superintendents tend to march to the same Big Education tune, but in Brevard County, the Brevard Federation of Teachers supported the ouster of Superintendent Mark Mullins on Nov. 22 because of a lack of school discipline.
“Students verbally and physically abuse teachers and staff, and there will be no end in sight unless meaningful systemic changes are made,” union leaders said on social media.
On Tuesday in Sarasota County, Superintendant Brennan Asplen also found himself being shoved out the door.
Despite four hours of public comment, most of it favoring Asplen, board members were critical of his mask mandates, student performance in reading and what was described as Asplen’s lack of transparency, according to Politico.
Fully expecting to be fired, he called board charges “ridiculous,” and following his emotional address at the school board meeting, several board members expressed an inability to attempt to work with him.
In her response to Asplen, Bridget Zeigler, the new chairwoman of the Sarasota school board and co-founder of Moms for Liberty, said, “I don’t know how respectfully we can build a relationship where we are functioning together for the right reasons with mutual respect.”
DeSantis had endorsed Zeigler, along with two dozen other conservative Florida school board candidates, a step rarely taken by Florida governors in what are considered to be nonpartisan races.
Sarasota is the latest Florida school board to oust its superintendent after the election (or, in Broward’s case, DeSantis appointments) shifted the board to a conservative majority. https://t.co/MTn6qXtfgh
— Kathryn Varn (@kathrynvarn) November 30, 2022
Most of the DeSantis-backed candidates won.
Broward County also fired its superintendent, Vickie Cartwright, on Nov. 14. That action was not directly a result of the 2022 election, according to Politico, but took place due to the efforts of five school board members DeSantis had appointed.
Ron DeSantis’ appointed Broward County School Board members voted to fire Superintendent Vickie Cartwrighthttps://t.co/Zsa5q6qDe1
— Florida’s Voice (@FLVoiceNews) November 15, 2022
In many respects, DeSantis is showing the nation how it can be done.
The governor brings to mind the concept of states acting as “laboratories of democracy,” as envisioned by early Progressive-era Wisconsin Rep. Robert La Follette and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.
In 1934, Brandeis wrote that “a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”
Of course, today’s progressives-leftists-Democrats don’t believe such things. They see the states as mere provinces with grasping federal tentacles reaching even the local level.
But not DeSantis.
In an August speech, he echoed the language of Winston Churchill. “At the end of the day, we’re not going to let this state be overrun by woke ideology,” the governor said.
“We will fight the woke in the businesses, we will fight the woke in government agencies, we will fight the woke in our schools,” he said. “We will never, ever surrender to the woke agenda.
“Florida is the state where woke goes to die.”
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