Source – Inside Higher Ed
In a significant move that aligns with Governor Ron DeSantis’s conservative education agenda, the Florida Board of Education has approved rules barring diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) spending and eliminating sociology from core course options at community and state colleges.
Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. affirmed the commitment to providing students with a world-class education during the board’s meeting at Tallahassee Community College. The approved rules mirror the state’s earlier DEI law signed by Governor DeSantis, which targeted and dismantled such programs in public colleges and universities. The latest decision extends these regulations to the Florida College System, comprising 28 colleges.
A new rule prohibits institutions from allocating funds for DEI
The new rule prohibits institutions from allocating funds for DEI and advocating for its principles. DEI is defined as any program, campus activity, or policy that classifies individuals based on attributes such as race, colour, sex, national origin, gender identity, or sexual orientation, promoting preferential treatment on such grounds.
Despite the restrictions, colleges and universities can still allocate funds to student-led organizations, regardless of potential violations of the DEI rule.
During the meeting, Chair Ben Gibson emphasized the board’s stance against DEI, characterizing it as a cover for “discrimination, exclusion, and indoctrination.” He asserted that state colleges should prioritize learning and reject any form of discrimination.
The board’s decision includes the removal of “Principles of Sociology”
In addition to the DEI measures, the board’s decision includes the removal of “Principles of Sociology” from the state’s core courses for general education requirements. The proposal, initiated by Commissioner Diaz, was met with opposition from sociology department leaders across the state. They expressed concerns that the removal of the sociology course would negatively impact the curriculum, describing it as an impoverishment.
The rule introduces two new options in the natural sciences category – “Introduction to Geology” and “Introduction to Oceanography.” Additionally, “Introductory Survey to 1877” is added to the social science subject area, replacing the sociology course. This new social science core course will cover American history from the earliest colonial beginnings to 1877.
The decision reflects Florida’s ongoing efforts to reshape its educational landscape, emphasizing a shift away from DEI programs and adjustments to core course offerings. Critics argue that these changes may limit the diversity of perspectives and impair the richness of the academic experience. As Florida navigates these shifts, the implications for students and educators remain a topic of ongoing debate and scrutiny.