Dec 15, 2021
Florida Ron DeSantis Press Conference Transcript: Critical Race Theory
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis proposed legislation surrounding Critical Race Theory in schools on December 15, 2021. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Ron DeSantis: (00:03)
Thank you. Thank you so much. It’s always wonderful to be in Florida’s friendliest hometown, which happens to be the center of the freest state in the United States. We’ve got a lot of great folks here and I want to thank Keisha King for the introduction. We have a number of people in my administration, Simone Marstiller, our secretary for the agency of healthcare administration. We have our commissioner of education, Richard Corcoran. We also have legislator, Senator Baxley, representatives [inaudible 00:00:46], Truenow and representative Randy Fine. We have Christopher Rufo, who’s the leading opponent of CRT from the Manhattan Institute. We have Dr. Matt Spalding, professor in constitutional government in Hillsdale College and then we have [Loli Jimenez 00:01:16] [inaudible 00:01:16] who’s a mother, who’s going to talk about her views in terms of education. Then we have [LaKeisha Hal 00:01:22], who’s also a mother from Sarasota County and she’s going to come up and say a few things and education really is so, so very important and I think it’s important that in Florida, we continue to do a lot of the good things that we have done.
Ron DeSantis: (01:34)
Education week, the latest rankings, rank Florida number three for K through 12, achievement in the whole country and that wasn’t true when I was growing up here, I’ll tell you that. We’ll talk a little bit about some of the things we don’t want to see in our schools and in our society, but I think it’s important to say what are we doing positively in terms of what we want to be in our schools and I think we’ve done more than any other state to place a renewed emphasis on American civics and teaching kids about the constitution and what it means to be an American. We’ve been able to get requirements back into the high schools, which is very important. We have the ability and we’ll be doing exams when people leave school, which will be like a citizenship exam that naturalized immigrants have to take because at the end of the day, everybody that comes through our school system, some will go into a variety of different fields, but everyone’s going to be an American citizen and they’re going to have duties and responsibilities and they need to understand what that means and they need to understand the principles that our country was founded upon.
Ron DeSantis: (02:40)
We also have been able to help teachers. We just launched and it’s going to come into effect next year, the civics, we call it a civics training program, where if you go through it, really get deep knowledge and understanding on the fundamentals, you get a $3,000 bonus and so that’s something that we think is very, very positive. We want all our students to understand why was our country founded? What were some of the key ideas that made us different? For example, our founding father said that we are endowed by our creator with unalienable rights. The rights do not come from government. These are natural rights and we create a constitutional system, not to give us rights, but to protect the rights that we already have and we have a constitutional system that’s laid out and not just having a judiciary, an executive, a legislature, but also having 50 state governments and federalism and all these different things that are designed to be able to maintain and preserve a free society. We’ve seen those ideas tested over the years throughout our history. We’ve had different people with different views about it.
Ron DeSantis: (04:02)
If you look at President Lincoln. Before he became president, running for the Senate, he was running against a guy named Steven Douglas and Douglas was basically saying that the founders wanted slavery, it was important to have and all of a sudden Lincoln said, no, no, no. That wasn’t what they wanted. They disfavored it. They wanted it to be wanted it to go away. They created the Declaration of Independence to say everybody had rights and so Lincoln prevailed ultimately in that debate, once he became elected president. Then you look at what people in our country have done. Defeating Nazisism in World War II, when the world really hung in the balance and that was America that did it and they did it because they believed in having a free society. You think about what MLK stood for. 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.
Ron DeSantis: (05:01)
More recently was the United States that was able to win the cold war and defeat Soviet communism. Now, I think that there’s more of these people coming out of the woodwork than we ever thought nowadays, which is unfortunate and there’s a lot of problems with Marxism in our hemisphere and we see what’s going on with authoritarian countries like China, but nevertheless, people thought that we wouldn’t be able to beat the Soviet Union and we did it. These are really important things that people need to have a great understanding of and I think what you see now with the rise of this woke ideology is an attempt to really delegitimize history and to delegitimize our institutions. I view the wokeness as a form of cultural Marxism.
Ron DeSantis: (05:58)
People say, oh, they’re leftists or socialists. It’s not just taxes and all that. Yeah, they do want that and that’s not good, but they really want to tear at the fabric of our society and our culture and things that really we’ve taken for granted, like the ability of parents to direct the up upbringing of their kids. This is really, really significant and when you see these things throughout the country, where they take down Thomas Jefferson statute in New York city, where they take down Abraham Lincoln in Massachusetts, where they take George Washington’s name off schools in California, that is an attempt to erase history. They want to delegitimize the founding of the country and the institutions and they basically want to replace it with a very militant form of leftism that would absolutely destroy this country, if that ever took hold. We have a responsibility to stand for the truth, to stand for what’s right and we’re doing that and we’ve put more resources and emphasis on teaching civics, on teaching people about American history, but we also have to protect people and protect our kids from some very pernicious ideologies that are trying to be forced upon them all across the country.
Ron DeSantis: (07:14)
Earlier this year I directed the Florida Department of Education to prohibit critical race theory in our K12 schools. You’ll hear these people. It was a big deal in Virginia, these counties, parents were really upset. A lot of the media, they go, oh, it’s not happening, it’s not happening and they would basically act like this is all just made up. Well, let me show you some of the things that have been done throughout our country just in the last couple years. The Arizona Department of Education created an “equity toolkit”, claiming that babies show the first sign of racism at three months old and white children become full racist, “strongly biased in favor of whiteness”, by age five. Santa Clara County Office of Education denounced the United States as a “parasitic system”, based on “the invasion of white male settlers” and encourage teachers to cash in on kids inherent empathy in order to recruit them into political activism. In a Philadelphia elementary school, forced fifth graders to celebrate black communism and simulated a black power rally to “free Angela Davis from prison”. At that particular school 87% of students fail to achieve basic literacy by graduation.
Ron DeSantis: (08:45)
This is something that you see all across the country and we have a responsibility in Florida to say we’re not going to do it, so we did do that. It violates Florida standards to scapegoat someone based on their race, to say that they’re inherently racist, to say that they’re an oppressor or oppressed or any of that and that’s good and that’s important, but we also have to realize that we’ve got to do more to make sure that that actually carries the day in the classrooms and in our society. Today we are going to be introducing to the public and we have legislators who are going to help us with this, a new piece of legislation for the upcoming legislative session, called Stop Wrongs Against Our Kids and Employees Act, the Stop Woke Act.
Ron DeSantis: (09:42)
This will do a number of things that are very important. One, it will put into statute the Department of Education’s prohibition on CRT in K through 12 schools. No taxpayer dollars should be used to teach our kids to hate our country or to hate each other. That’s important and that’s all well and good, but I think what we’ve seen recently is, you can legislate things like parents bill of rights. You can have certain things and sometimes the school districts don’t always follow it and so we are going to be including in this legislation, giving parents a private right of action to be able to enforce the prohibition on CRT and they get to recover attorney’s fees when they prevail, which is very important.
Ron DeSantis: (10:42)
Yes, there will be a fortified ability for the state Department of Education to hold people accountable, but honestly the parents know best what’s going on and they’re in the best position to be able to do. Here’s the thing, a lot of times these people will fear lawsuits more than a fine from the state Department of Education because when you do a lawsuit you get discovery and you’re subject to that and when they say they’re not doing CRT and then you have all this information showing that they are doing it, it really is an uncomfortable position for them. I think gives parents the ability to go in and ensure that our state standards are being followed and I think it’s something that needs to be done. We also need to understand that this has become a cottage industry, this CRT.
Ron DeSantis: (11:31)
There’s people making huge amounts of money. They basically will get tens of thousands of dollars to go in and do a training, sometimes at school, sometimes at businesses, basically saying, okay, pay me $50,000 so I can teach your employees how racist capitalism is or something like that. I’m just thinking to myself, well, you’re certainly charging a King’s ransom to do that. You don’t complain about capitalism when you’re lining your own pocket, it’s just when other people are doing well. The issue is, you have these whole cottage industry of these consultants that will come and they’ll go into a school district or they’ll go to a business and they’ll go to colleges and you to universities and they bring a lot of this into those institutions and they call it equity. Just to understand, when you hear equity used, that is just an ability for people to smuggle in their ideology because we don’t need to have these terms. We have society based on equality, where you’re treated equally regardless of your upbringing, regardless of your race, you have the same rights and privileges as anybody else. Equity is used to put the thumb on the scale in favor of their ideology and so that’s where you get things like CRT and a whole host of other things. Our legislation defund any money for K12 or higher ed going to CRT consultants.
Ron DeSantis: (13:06)
We are also not going to allow the staff or employees or teachers in our education system to be subjected to that type of training, where they’re forced to sit there and listen and they have had this in different parts of the country. The San Diego public schools did a training where they accused white teachers of being colonizers on stolen land and told them, “you are racist and you are upholding racist ideas, structures and policies”. They recommended that the teachers undergo “anti-racist therapy”. This is wrong when it’s done to our kids, but it’s also wrong to force employees to have to go through that, so you are not going to have that in any school in the state of Florida, which is good.
Ron DeSantis: (14:01)
You know, it’s not just in schools and I know that’s been a big focus and understandably so because parents send their kids, I think most parents just want them to be educated on the basics. I don’t think that they’re interested in this in indoctrination. I know I’m not and I know most of you are not and it’s important and it is wrong when you’re trying to take a kid who’s there to learn basics and you’re putting ideology and you’re trying to indoctrinate, but this also goes beyond education and it goes beyond just schooling and it really has become something that is being utilized by corporate America, to, I think, create hostile work environments for many of their employees. You look at what some of these big companies have done in recent years.
Ron DeSantis: (14:47)
Bank of America has had training teaching that the United States is a system of “white supremacy” and encourages their employees to become woke at work. Verizon has taught employees that America’s fundamentally racist and they’ve even promoted defunding the police. A Google employee program claims that America’s “a system of white premise and that all Americans are raised to be racist”. That is some of the stuff that we’re seeing. I think about it, if you’re in a company and someone’s telling dirty jokes or doing this, that could be considered a hostile work environment. Well, how is it not a hostile work environment to be attacking people based on their race or telling them that they’re privileged or that they’re part of oppressive systems, when all they’re doing is showing up to work and trying to earn a living. We believe that this corporate CRT, it’s basically corporate sanctioned racism and they’re trying to shove it down these employees throats. We believe that violates the Florida civil rights laws, but at the extent it doesn’t, we’re going to make sure that the law does include this into these laws, so that employees have an ability to protect themselves against this harassment.
Ron DeSantis: (16:11)
In some of these companies, you just think about what goes through. A lot of this is virtue signaling. They don’t want to be criticized on Twitter, by the mob or something like that, but you had a lot of these companies, last year when we had the protests and the rioting, they were supporting a lot of these organizations. BLM is a radical organization. They were pouring millions of dollars into it. Now they’re all concerned because that ideology has been put into place in places like San Francisco and these other places where they don’t prosecute people stealing things out of the store, so they want Congress now to come in and say, hey, stop the smash and grabs. Well, they’re partially responsible for creating an environment by having these people elected to office. We think the corporate CRT is just wrong. We do not want any workers in Florida to be subjected to this and we’re going to make sure that is the case.
Ron DeSantis: (17:14)
If you look at what we’ve done in Florida, we’ve basically just stood for opportunity for everybody. If you love what we’ve done in education, we’ve expanded opportunity to folks that have never had the opportunity we’ve had now. You look at the different folks here who are all United and not having either state sanctioned or corporate sanctioned racism in our state, but this is something that’s significant. They’ve tried to act like it’s not happening and you’ll have media who will say that this doesn’t happen, even though we have all these examples. You should hear Rufo. He’s got many, many more examples of this. It is happening and I think we have an ability to just draw a line in the sand and say, that’s not the type of society that we want here in the state of Florida. We want people treated equally. We don’t want ideology.
Ron DeSantis: (18:09)
We’re going to hear from some folks who’ve got some good things to say, so I’m going to bring up them and we look forward to hearing those remarks. First I’m going to bring up from the Manhattan Institute, really has done more than anybody else in our country on exposing CRT in education and in corporate America, Christopher Rufo.