Ron DeSantis’s “anti-woke” policies have led to a serious brain drain in Florida

Author: Greg Owen

The good news about Ron DeSantis‘s push to “Make America Florida” is that the state has been an incubator for the far-right governor’s authoritarian policies for the last four years, and America gets to see the results.

They’re not good.

The latest fallout from DeSantis’s ill-conceived policies in the state where “woke goes to die” are data indicating there’s a brain drain plaguing the Sunshine State. A “brain drain” is when highly trained or intelligent people leave a particular region for better opportunities elsewhere.

Exhibit number one is the New College of Florida, a state university DeSantis targeted last year as a liberal “woke” breeding ground, and for its status as one of the most “gay-friendly” campuses in the country.

DeSantis planned to turn New College into the “Hillsdale of the South,” a reference to the private and infamously conservative Christian college in Michigan. The governor remade the school board in his own image, installing hand-picked conservatives to enable the far-right transformation — a “high-risk, high-reward gambit,” in the words of one member — that would serve as an example to conservative state legislators across the United States of how “to reconquer public institutions.”

The gambit has failed miserably.

The school made a shocking announcement in mid-July: 36 of the college’s approximately 100 full-time teaching positions were vacant, adding to mounting evidence that qualified educators are fleeing DeSantis’s Florida.

“All of the legislation surrounding higher education in Florida is chilling and terrifying,” Liz Leininger, an associate professor of neurobiology who is relocating to a college in Maryland, told The Guardian. “Imagine scientists who are studying climate change, imagine an executive branch that denies climate change – they could use these laws to intimidate or dismiss those scientists.”

It’s not just higher education feeling the brain drain pain.

DeSantis’s notorious Don’t Say Gay legislation and other restrictions on how sex and race can be addressed in classrooms — along with the fact he has denounced inclusive teachers as “grooming” and “indoctrinating” students — has put a chill into primary and secondary education as well.

Andrew Spar, President of the Florida Education Association, told Fox News 13 last week that there are approximately 8,000 teacher and 6,000 support staff vacancies across the state right now. Spar points to a toxic combination of conservative politics and low salaries for the shortage, noting Florida ranks 48th in the nation in average teacher pay.

“It’s one of the worst teacher shortage situations in the nation,” said Spar.

DeSantis’s slate of “parental rights” legislation has thrown child educators in Florida into a state of confusion and fear, according to Brandt Robinson, a high school history teacher in Palm Harbor, where educators are now subject to felony charges for violating vaguely-worded provisions in the new laws.

“The point is intimidation,” Robinson told The Guardian.

The history teacher keeps a personal library in his classroom which could now run afoul of DeSantis’s censorship efforts.

“They’re there as a model of interest in books – world history, African American history, American history, classics,” Robinson said. “Now I have to worry that if a student uses a book, someone might say the book is an example of critical race theory, and I’ll face a possible third-degree felony.”

Adding to the brain drain emigrants are the parents and kids affected by the same laws.

A report by the Williams Institute revealed a significant number of parents “expressed fears about the future related to living in Florida” and said they were “very likely to move in the next two years.”

In the meantime, the toxic fallout from DeSantis’s agenda continues to rain down across the state.

A new policy announced by Orange County Public Schools is the latest example of intimidation hatched by DeSantis’s policies.

In a memo distributed Monday, the district banned transgender employees and contractors from using pronouns and bathrooms not associated with their sex at birth, citing Florida’s House Bill 1069, which defines sex as an “immutable biological trait.”

Actual Story on LGBTQ Nation
Author: Greg Owen

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