The University of Florida recommends that teachers not violate the so-called “Stop WOKE Act” so that UF does not face “large financial penalties”.
“Thank you for taking the time to study this legislation and for your important role as an objective educator and teacher,” UF President Kent Fuchs told introduction to the law in the style of a slideshow which was sent to all instructors last week. Fuchs notes that at this legislative session, Florida passed several laws affecting higher education, but he focuses on legislation known as HB 7, which he says regulates “learning topics and practices”.
HB 7 better known among its supporters as the Stop Wrong Actions for Our Children and Employees Act (WOKE). Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis introduced legislation in December as a bulwark against “state-sanctioned racism, which is a critical racial theory”.
Another slide in the UF presentation says, “Essentially, the message of the bill is,‘ No one likes to be told what to think. And that’s including students. ” The theme of the bill is that teachers should not present personal beliefs on a topic as a “correct” point of view or compel or encourage students to accept certain beliefs ”.
Another slide in the UF presentation says that HB 7 “declares certain types of tuition and training of staff and students discriminatory under state law,” and that in Florida SB 2524– also adopted during the legislative session of 2022 – “imposes heavy financial penalties on any university that violates the requirements of HB 7.”
For UF, that fine could be more than $ 106 million in performance-based funding.
Signed into law in April, HB 7 includes strict regulations on how K-12 schools teach U.S. history and the history of racism. As for tuition in colleges and universities, the law is reminiscent of bills in many other states that seek to limit “Separating concepts” like race and gender are outlined (all of these bills are based on the Trump administration’s order on federal-funded education, which has since been repealed).
In particular, in higher education, HB 7 prohibits learning that “forces”, “promotes” or “forces” students (or staff) to believe in concepts such as:
- Man, by virtue of his race, color, national origin, or sex, is by nature a racist, sexist, or oppressor, consciously or unconsciously.
- The moral character or status of a person as privileged or oppressed is necessarily determined by his or her race, skin color, national origin or gender.
- A person by virtue of his or her race, color, national origin or sex shall be liable for acts committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, or must be discriminated against or subjected to harmful treatment. national origin or sex.
- A person, because of his or her race, skin color, national origin, or gender, must be discriminated against or treated negatively in order to achieve diversity, equality, or inclusion.
- A person by virtue of his race, color, sex or national origin is personally responsible and must feel guilt, suffering or other forms of psychological disorder due to actions in which the person did not participate, committed in the past by other members of the same race, skin color, of national origin or sex.
- Virtues such as merit, excellence, diligence, justice, neutrality, objectivity, and racial color blindness are racist or sexist, or were created by members of a particular race, color, national origin, or sex to oppress another race, color, of national origin or sex.
PEN America, among other critics of HB 7 and similar bills elsewhere, called them “educational gag orders”Specifically designed to cool classroom discussions about race and gender. In this sense, critics say, such bills do not guarantee the freedom of the individual in the classroom as they allegedly do, but seek to replace the allegedly “awakened” ideology with another state-sanctioned one.
Recently, Florida has been particularly aggressive in banning certain concepts from the classroom, including through new law which prohibits any discussion of gender identity or sexual orientation from kindergarten to third grade.
Another new state law allows students of colleges and universities secretly firing their professors in order to file complaints on the basis of speech. The same law created by Fr. controversial poll campus climate for ideological diversity.
Despite increasingly difficult conditions for teachers and professors in Florida, the new UF instruction states that “teachers can continue to consider important subjects that reflect the core values of the university”.
“Indeed, UF promotes a robust educational environment,” the slideshow continues. “Every student should be given the opportunity to get acquainted with the full range of ideas, opinions and beliefs. In the process, students will be challenged with complex concepts that lead to deeper understanding and promote maturity. ”
Ultimately, UF says, “HB 7 says instructors can discuss issues of race, skin color, national origin or gender, but should do so objectively.”
Fuchs, who has already been charged violation of teachers’ rights to reassure DeSantis and other lawmakers several times this year also says in the introduction to the instructions that “you can continue to address important academic issues in your classes”.
UF declined to comment on the leadership.
All government agencies are subject to both HB 7 and SB 2524, but UF is the only institution that has offered teachers this kind of guidance, according to the state teachers ’union.
UF will indeed lose most of any University of Florida in dollars due to any violation of HB 7, because it receives the largest share of funding from the state on the basis of efficiency – about 106 million dollars in 2021-2022. SB 2524 states that any institution “in which a substantiated breach” of HB 7 has been found will not be eligible for funding for efficiency during the next financial year. (Reasonable findings are determined by the court, the legislature committee, or the University of Florida Board of Governors.)
Andrew Gotthard, an English teacher at the Atlantic University of Florida and president of the United Faculty of Florida, the National Education Association – and the American Teachers Federation – an affiliated state teachers union, said that although UF is the first to issue such instructions, he believes some institutions work independently, will be released in the summer.
As for UF information, Gotthard said the union was “deeply disappointed” in it.
“Not only is this an editorial story about the law and it continues to lie that high school teachers insert their personal views into classroom lectures, but it also shows once again that UF administrations are more comfortable combining themselves with Tallahassee than defending their own teachers’ rights and students, “Gotthard said in an e-mail.” Moreover, it is clear that the university either does not understand or refuses to recognize the difference between a teacher who shares a personal view in class and a teacher who supports theory or perspective because it has convincing evidence and a consensus of scientists. “
Before giving additional advice to faculty on how to have difficult conversations with students, Gotthard continued: “They need to take a dose of their own medication and start having difficult conversations with Tallahassee officials – talking about the importance of free speech, academic freedom and honesty in education. ».