Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis took another swipe against critical race theory Wednesday, introducing a bill to ban the controversial curriculum from K-12 schools in the state.
The Stop Wrongs Against Our Kids and Employees (WOKE) Act would allow parents to file lawsuits against school districts they suspect of teaching critical race theory and recover attorney fees “when they prevail,” the governor said during a press conference.
“Our legislation will defund any money for K-12 going to CRT consultants,” DeSantis said. “No taxpayer dollars should be used to teach our kids to hate our country or hate each other.”
DeSantis – who has been touted as a potential 2024 GOP presidential front-runner if former President Donald Trump does not make another White House bid – said people often fear lawsuits more than a fine, as it puts them in an “uncomfortable position.”
“I think that gives parents the ability to go in and ensure that our state standards are being followed,” he added.
The bill, which will be formally introduced in the next legislative session, would also permit teachers to push back against what DeSantis called “unlawful mandates from their elected district leadership” and bar colleges and universities from hiring “woke” critical race theory consultants.
In addition, the proposal includes provisions for employees to protect themselves from incidents of “corporate wokeness,” such as critical race theory training.
“[W]e must protect Florida workers against the hostile work environment that is created when large corporations force their employees to endure CRT-inspired ‘training’ and indoctrination,” said DeSantis in a statement from his office, which cited reports of such programs at Google, Bank of America and Raytheon.
“Think about what MLK stood for,” the governor said. “He said he didn’t want people judged on the color of their skin but on the content of their character – you listen to some of these people nowadays, they don’t talk about that.”
Democratic state Sen. Shevrin Jones, the vice chair of the chamber’s education committee, accused DeSantis and Republicans of manufacturing “a crisis out of a non-issue,” adding that the governor and his team “know full well that CRT is not taught in K-12 schools or workplaces.”
Over the summer, DeSantis called on Florida’s Department of Education to ban the critical race theory curriculum, which teaches the idea that racism is systemic in America’s legal societal structures.