A teacher in a community just south of Tampa, Florida is suing Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) over an "anti-woke" school policy that has effectively required him to cover up books in his classroom.
In an interview with Business Insider published on Friday, Don Falls highlighted what it's like to be in public education in the Sunshine State right now under the "Stop WOKE Act" — and argued that DeSantis' education policy is nothing more than a cynical stunt at the expense of teachers and students.
"This year I'm teaching government and economics. I've taught just about every subject in social studies over the course of my 38-year career. I love teaching. And I love it every day," said Falls. "Florida Governor Ron DeSantis openly said in his swearing-in inauguration that this is the state where woke goes to die. And so he has made it his goal to do everything he can to stop what he perceives as a woke ideology that's prevalent, particularly in schools. It's all fabricated. If you know anything about education, you know that that doesn't really exist on any scale and in schools, especially in Florida. But that's what he campaigned on. That's his base, and so he has continued to push those things. "
"The latest change is a sweeping act of legislation that requires all public schools to go through a vetting process for their books. The books have to be reviewed by a trained media specialist or librarian to make sure they're appropriate for children," said Falls. "So, last week, I, an educator of Manatee High School in Bradenton, Florida, got a memo that gave me three choices: I could pack up all the books from my classroom, cover them up, or run them through their vetting process. If I chose to go through with the last option, I'd have to get approval for them to remain on my classroom shelves."
Ultimately, explained Falls, "the point is that it would take me weeks, probably, to have to go through the process of trying to vet all of these books and get them in the system. So to me, this is just Big Brother looking over our shoulders, and fundamentally a violation of our first amendment right, right to free speech, and students' first amendment rights of free speech."
DeSantis has made fighting what he calls the "woke" agenda integral to his administration, and schools are only one part of it. Most famously, last year he signed legislation stripping special district status from the Walt Disney Corporation for speaking out against the so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill that effectively prohibits LGBTQ people from even mentioning their orientation or gender identity in classrooms.