Legislative Victory for Florida Higher Education

National Association of Scholars

The National Association of Scholars (NAS) is delighted that Governor Ron DeSantis has signed SB 266 and HB 931. SB 266 bars an extraordinarily wide range of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) requirements and programming in Florida’s public universities, as well as strengthening their civics education. HB 931 bars diversity statements and, to strengthen intellectual diversity, establishes an Office of Public Policy Events. (HB 931 was inspired by Stanley Kurtz’s model Campus Intellectual Diversity Act, which was published by NAS.) Governor DeSantis has taken another bold step to restore intellectual freedom to Florida’s higher education.

We habitually caution: the law must be brought into effect. The radical education establishment will use lawfare to delay the application of these laws, and they will seek out sympathetic judges to issue injunctions to prevent the laws from operating. Even when the laws have passed this barrier, Florida policymakers will need to ensure that trustees, presidents, and deans will work to enforce them. Malign nonfeasance that would make a Jim Crow registrar blush is the coin of the realm among educrats. Education reform will require a generation of steady effort to accomplish.

Yet there also are encouraging signs. Would-be diversicrats have already begun to hesitate about accepting careers in Florida (and Texas, where anti-DEI legislation is also afoot). The DEI machine, as most tyrannies, is both powerful and fragile, a brute with a glass jaw. Effective resistance dispels the cloud of fainthearts and careerists that accompany the true believers. Cracks are spreading on the DEI career track.

That is crucial, for the career track is the center of gravity of the DEI army. The whole camp of radical movements—service-learning, action civics, sustainability, DEI, and many more—have striven for generations to yoke self-interest to their radical ideals. Their diversions of taxpayer resources, their seizure of philanthropies and their grants, their use of grants and stipends and every other piece of loose change, their imposition of regulations by universities, professional organizations, accreditors, state governments, and federal government agencies—all has been directed at creating permanent salaried positions for their cadres to conduct radical activism, to create entire career tracks in radical activism. The career track is the means by which to attract the vast majority of Americans who are not inclined to sacrifice unduly for their ideals. The radical activists have used self-interest intelligently as the cement for their perversion of the universities—and of K-12 education, and of the republic as a whole.

Governor DeSantis and Florida lawmakers have done wonderfully well. We urge them to continue—and to keep their eye on strategic victory. We must not only reform the universities of the regulations that require the search for truth to be subordinated to radical activism. We must also sweep out the administrators whose career is activism—and reframe the professorial job advertisements so that no more professors are hired to conduct activism under the hollow pretense that it is “research.”

Above all, we must render the income streams for activism so uncertain that radical young college students decide, prudently, that trying to batten on as a parasite at a university is a bad bet, and they’d be better off working for a living. Our universities will not be saved until a new generation of radicals make that self-interested decision. For that, we need not just one or two states to prohibit DEI activism, but a full half of them. Remove DEI jobs from half the public universities in the nation and the DEI career track will disintegrate.

That is for the future. For now, the NAS congratulates Governor DeSantis, the Florida legislatures, and the citizens of Florida, for their great achievement in enacting into law SB 266 and HB 931.

Photo by Adobe Stock

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