DeSantis pushes back against protecting teachers

This is a weird move by Gov. DeSantis – refusing to agree that teachers have a right to safe workspace and, instead, pitting parents against teachers. He is moving further and further away from what the majority of Floridians believe.

DeSantis Pushes Back Against Feds On Threats to Educators
By Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida.

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TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis signaled Tuesday that Florida will fight a federal effort to address a spike in threats against educators.

DeSantis responded on Twitter to a move Monday by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland ordering the FBI to work with local officials to help address a “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation and threats of violence” against educators and school board members over controversial issues such as mask mandates and the teaching of “critical race theory.”

“Attorney General Garland is weaponizing the DOJ (Department of Justice) by using the FBI to pursue concerned parents and silence them through intimidation,” DeSantis tweeted on Tuesday. “Florida will defend the free speech rights of its citizens and will not allow federal agents to squelch dissent.”

Garland’s directive to FBI Director Christopher A. Wray and federal prosecutors calls for strategy sessions to be held in the next 30 days to produce measures to address “the rise in criminal conduct directed toward school personnel.”

“While spirited debate about policy matters is protected under our Constitution, that protection does not extend to threats of violence or efforts to intimidate individuals based on their views,” Garland wrote. “Threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation’s core values. Those who dedicate their time and energy to ensuring that our children receive a proper education in a safe environment deserve to be able to do their work without fear for their safety.”

The National School Boards Association, which represents school board members, recently asked President Joe Biden to help investigate threats against educators, attributing the rise to mask mandates intended to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The association pointed to instances of intimidation, threats and harassment in states such as Florida, California, Georgia, New Jersey and Ohio.

DeSantis in July issued an executive order aimed at preventing Florida school districts from requiring students to wear masks during the pandemic and has backed efforts to block the teaching of “critical race theory,” which is based on the premise that racism is embedded within American society and institutions.

A flashpoint for Republicans nationally, the controversial theory isn’t taught in Florida public schools. However, in June the State Board of Education approved a rule placing guidelines on the way U.S. history can be taught .

State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat running for governor in 2022, tweeted on Tuesday that Garland “is using law and order to protect children, parents and teachers from crime.”

“Florida will continue to be embarrassed by Governor DeSantis and his contempt for the law and the safety of our children,” Fried added in the tweet.

DeSantis’ tweet drew support from the Republican Party of Florida.

“Governor @RonDeSantisFL will always stand with parents and the rights to free speech. The intimidation of families is not the American way,” the party said on Twitter.


3 thoughts on “DeSantis pushes back against protecting teachers

  1. Maybe if the “concerned parents” the Governor references didn’t act like howling banshees and threaten school board members, teachers, and elected representatives with “we know where you live” and physically assaulting people, then there would be no need to entertain this action. I would prefer that the FBI stay out of this too– to focus more of their efforts on prosecuting the former President and his gang of felons including Matt Gaetz.

  2. Rick,
    Did Governor DeSantis say that teachers should not have safe schools and communities? It would follow that if teachers are not safe, then neither are students. Rather than put words in Gov. DeSantis’ mouth, his critics would do well to see the larger and more significant issue here.
    I read Politico’s coverage of this story and even read the memorandum from Attorney General (AG) Garland.
    Why must the FBI become involved here? Is it because the teachers’ unions have pressured the Biden Administration or is there a federal equity here?
    Using the FBI in this manner should concern everyone (left, right and center). What is the federal interest or foundation for federal law enforcement action? Are local law enforcement efforts insufficient? Has this been a problem for local authorities or is it an embarrassment for the Biden Administration? The AG’s memo fails to cite an interstate nexus or sufficient matter of federal law, such as RICO, transnational terrorism or interstate crime.
    Below is an excerpt from Politico:
    “The department (Department of Justice) said they’re expected to include a training program and a new federal task force stacked with representatives from the department’s criminal, civil rights and national security divisions.”
    Governor DeSantis is right to oppose this improper employment of FBI resources into a matter of local concern. The Supreme Court has consistently struck down federal attempts to commandeer local law enforcement resources to enforce purely federal interests. Without citing a federal interest here (AG Garland states platitudes about protecting children, but makes no direct references to a federal interest or grounds for federal jurisdiction.) why does the AG and DoJ now think that the Criminal, Civil Rights and National Security Divisions of DoJ and the FBI need to concern themselves in school board meetings and activities?
    Come to think of it, is not education a local matter where we see increasing federal intrusion?
    Did not J. Edgar Hoover bug and intimidate civil rights leaders and others under the pretense of protecting national security? It seems like the Biden Administration is looking for a rightwing conspiracy like Joe McCarthy and Hoover saw Communists in every segment of American society.
    I am surprised that more people on the political left are not questioning the AG’s motive here. The AG’s action can have a chilling effect on people to express their opinions. Why use federal scrutiny in matters that are of local concern?
    Benjamin Franklin said that “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” We would be wise to question and curtail any federal action that impinges on the authority of state and local governments.

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