“Today’s Florida Is Tomorrow’s America”: Ron DeSantis’ new university takeover is just the beginning of the right-wing higher education crusade

But that kind of lament has largely left the new trustees unmoved. When a current LGBTQ+ student told reporters about her pain, Rufo quote her comment on Twitter, adding a half-laughing emoji.

The founding of Hillsdale College, a private Christian school of 1,500 students in rural Michigan, may seem like a surprising model for overhauling a public institution in Florida, but it shouldn’t. so. The university, sometimes called the “citadel of conservatism,” has long had a excessive political influence in the conservatism movement. Right-wing politicians and supporters vie for spots on its speech program, the speeches of which are then distributed to a requested 6 million audience through the monthly Hillsdale publication. Ginni Thomas, a conservative activist who searched? overthrow 2020 election and who is married to a Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, facilitate the launch of Hillsdale’s Capitol Hill campus in Washington. The magazine called Hillsdale “feeder school” for the Trump administration.

Hillsdale has also spent the past 12 years spread the “classical education” model that focuses on Western civilization through a nationwide charter school building network, a freely licensed right-wing K-12 curriculum package (including Post-Trump “The Curriculum of 1776”), and its extensive ties to conservative state leaders. It is largely thanks to Hillsdale that the idea of ​​”classical education” – although it takes many different forms and perspectives – has become a right-wing shorthand for anti-“awakened” American exceptionalism and is the antidote to critical racial theory. Last year, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced plans to open 50 Hillsdale charters statewide; years ago, the president of Hillsdale Larry Arnn, also a former president of the Claremont Institute, declare that governor of South Dakota Kristi Noem offered to build him an entire campus. (Noem’s office did not respond to a request for comment.)

But in Florida, Hillsdale’s footprint is huge. The state boasts the highest number of Hillsdale K-12 charter schools, some show or Command by the spouses of prominent state Republicans, including Corcoran and Republican congressmen Byron Donalds. Hillsdale is musical instrument in helping DeSantis review state K–12 citizenship standards along with more “patriotic” lines. Last year, the state hired a Hillsdale duo—an employee, a college student—to Evaluate whether the math textbooks Florida teachers submitted for approval contained prohibited concepts such as critical race theory. And a number of prominent Florida officials, including Corcoran and DeSantis himself, spoke at gatherings organized by the university, where Arnn hailed both men as some of the most important in America. Nowadays.

Rufo also spoke to Hillsdale audiences: once in early 2021, where he presented what was quickly becoming a Republican view of critical race theory, and again in the spring of next year. Last year, in a speech titled “Surrounding organizations,” which he recently described as his “theory of action.” after that Addressbrought up while Rufo was teaching a journalism course for the university, he urged state legislators to use their budgetary powers to reshaping public institutionsincluding higher education.

“We have to get rid of the idea that somehow the public university system is a completely independent entity that practices academic freedom—a complete fraud, that is just a false statement, is fundamentally wrong—and that you can’t touch it otherwise you’re influencing the rights of gender studies to pursue their dreams,” he said. Instead, conservatives must have the courage to say, “’What the public gives, the public can take away.’ And so we get into it, we get rid of the things we don’t like, we fund the things we like.”

For the first, he explains, states should cut funding for diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, and find creative ways to undermine university departments. deemed too liberal, such as changing state teacher accreditation laws as a means of making teacher colleges unsuitable. Both proposals have become popular conservative talking points over the past year. EQUAL Chronicles of higher education report This week, South Carolina lawmakers requested information from 33 of the state’s public colleges and universities regarding training in race, ethnicity or sexual orientation, following similar moves in Florida and Oklahoma.

About what rights? do like, Rufo advises state legislators to fund the creation of new, independently administered “conservative centers” in top public universities to attract conservative professors, create new academic directions and serve as a “private patronage system” for the right.

“Some people don’t like to think of it that way,” Rufo said. “But guess what? After all, public universities, DEI departments, public school administrations are all patrons of leftist activists. And as long as there will be a patronage system, wouldn’t it be better to have some representative of the public among them?”

In many ways, it’s an old idea. The big money donors on the right like the Olin and Koch foundation have been established”beachacademic center in universities around the country since the 1970s, as a means of bolstering academic arguments for right-wing policies, creating a conservative talent system, and awarding professorships to right-wing scholars—some of whom, according to more moderate scholars, are unemployed on their own merits. (It may be noted here: Corcoran’s appointment to the New University followed bid failed became president of Florida State University in 2021, when he was omitted, apparently, in part due to lack of qualifications.)

But today the model has been adapted, so funds for such programs and institutes increasingly come directly from state legislatures, as many red states have passed bills. establishment of new “classical” and “civil” institutes with agendas barely disguised. In Arizona, the legislature effectively replaced private contributions from the Koch foundation with taxpayer dollars to create a new School of Economic and Civic Thinking and Leadership in the State of Arizona, to address the lack of ideological diversity. In Texas, Deputy Governor Knitting Patrick Have search to establish a free-market consulting organization at the University of Texas Austin, in part react to important racial theory. In Tennessee, Governor Lee combined his proposal to create dozens of Hillsdale charters with a call to build a $6 million Hillsdale-inspired civics institute at the University of Tennessee Knoxville to combat “anti-Americanism.”

Florida has had several, including a political academy at the State of Florida; Adam Smith Center for Economic Freedom at Florida International University; and the University of Florida’s newly approved Hamilton Center for Classical and Civic Education, dedicated to “the ideas, traditions, and texts that form the basis of Western and American civilization,” and is tasked with helping create anti-communist content for Florida’s new K –12 civics curriculum.

Last spring, the achievement prompted another Florida school, the private Flagler College of St. Augustine, worried that the school was being prepared to become the “Hillsdale of the South.” The Legislature is considering a multi-million dollar grant for the school to set up its own “Classical Education Institute” – money that is certainly needed and can also be used to strengthen other institutions. existing programs, but what trainers fear will come with unacceptable constraints. The professors there issued a resolution before the faculty board, declaring that, if the grant was approved, the faculty would retain control over how it was used to recruit and create curriculum . In Flagler’s case, the administration readily agreed.


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