A Threat to Democracy: Florida's Agenda to Dismantle Public Higher Education

By Dilys Schoorman and Rosanna Gatens


The current assault on academic freedom central to the public education agenda of Florida’s governor and legislature, and the accompanying erosion of a more inclusive and democratized landscape of power, provide a disturbing glimpse into the dystopian society we might anticipate under a potential DeSantis presidency. This analysis of two (among many) state laws—H.B. 7: the Individual Freedom Act, also politically branded as the Stop WOKE Act (Florida House 2022); and S.B. 266: Higher Education (Florida Senate 2023b)— explores the laws’ antidemocratic purposes, operationalization, and impact. We offer as context the historical opposition to academia that includes minoritized perspectives. Though H.B. 7 has been effectively challenged in the Eleventh Circuit Court, both laws have created a chilling effect in many institutions.

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