- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has formally requested that all state universities report their spending on critical race theory and diversity, equity and inclusion programs as the Republican seeks to counter leftist trends in higher education.

DeSantis press secretary Bryan Griffin confirmed Wednesday that the administration sent a memo last week to Florida Department of Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. and State University of Florida Chancellor Ray Rodrigues requiring the breakdown of expenditures.

“Each Florida College System and State University System must complete the attached document to provide a comprehensive list of all staff, programs, and campus activities related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and critical race theory,” said the Dec. 28 memo from state budget director Chris Spencer.

The memo asked universities to list the programs and the number of positions associated with the initiatives; the total funding to support the programs and how much of the bill was paid by the state.

Mr. DeSantis, who cruised to reelection in November, has made it a priority to combat “woke indoctrination” in education, declaring in his Tuesday inaugural address that Florida is “where woke goes to die.”

“We seek normalcy, not philosophical lunacy,” Mr. DeSantis said. “We will not allow reality, facts and truth to become optional. We will never surrender to the woke mob.”

The memo is likely to increase tensions between the DeSantis administration and left-tilting academics, a relationship already fraught after the governor signed last year the Stop WOKE Act, which banned instruction that “espouses, promotes, advances, inculcates, or compels” certain race-based concepts.

Mr. DeSantis said the state was “taking a stand against state-sanctioned racism that is critical race theory,” but a federal judge temporarily blocked key provisions of the law in November.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported Tuesday that at least one university had been asked to disclose its CRT and DEI expenses, citing an internal email.

“The move is likely to heighten fears among advocates of academic freedom in the state who worry that DeSantis is bent on curtailing professors’ speech in the classroom,” said the report.

Seth McLaughlin contributed to this report.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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