NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. (WFLA) — Gov. Ron DeSantis visited Pasco County Tuesday morning to discuss teacher recruitment efforts. While in New Port Richey, he spoke about Florida’s new curriculum and efforts to keep indoctrination and ideology out of the state’s schools, and pushed back on medical board efforts to include gender dysphoria care for minors.
During the news conference, DeSantis spoke about reopening schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, not forcing students to be vaccinated, and the state’s viewpoint that pandemic lockdown efforts should be focused on science and data, not on political ideology and partisan strategies.
He said places like Washington, D.C., had retained vaccination requirements, at the expense of excluding children from school based on “a mandate that has no basis in science or fact.” The governor said lockdown policies hurt low-income students the most.
The governor then took questions from the crowd. During the question and answer session, DeSantis was asked about a reported effort to recruit teachers from foreign countries to address the current teacher shortage.
“With everything, I think that we’re putting Floridians first, we’re putting Americans first. If we have a qualified teacher in the United States or in Florida, I don’t want to go with a foreigner over somebody that’s from our communities,” DeSantis said. “There’s nothing wrong with, in some situations, I don’t know how it would work, with what they’re doing, but clearly we believe in putting the people here in Florida first. Our programs are designed to benefit Floridians, not people in other countries.”
While answering another education question, DeSantis said teaching was not being pursued as a career in colleges as much as in past time periods. He said the state had worked on improving average minimum salaries for Florida teachers as part of an initiative to recruit more educators, but said the way schools taught education to become teachers was less effective than the past.
“I think these schools of education and the specific way they go about, I don’t think is the right way to do it,” DeSantis said. “I don’t think these [education] schools have proven to be effective. I think what you do is you get people that have proficiency in core academic disciplines, then you have them go in. But trying to teach them at certain schools of education, I think that’s been overtaken by ideology. I think that’s a turn-off for a lot of people.”
The governor said most people who get into teaching as a profession do it to help students, not to be “a cog in some indoctrination machine.” Talking about Florida’s approach to curriculum, the governor continued along that thread of thought.
“Our mantra has been, in our schools, to educate kids, not indoctrinate kids,” DeSantis said. “Hopefully what we’re doing is saying that teaching is not about learning ‘education in college or university,’ it’s really about having proficiency in subjects, then learning on the ground about how to do it.”
He said some people can do well in a college course but, in the classroom, they’re just “not up to snuff.” The governor added that people who may not have done as well in university courses but had “real energy and connect with students” do a better job in some teaching settings.
“It’s something you can’t judge on an academic transcript,” he said. “Certainly, we would prefer people with real world experience and academic proficiency in the core subjects they’re teaching, English, math, science. Not saying ‘oh I went to the school of education somewhere and they taught me kind of how to teach.”
He said he had been “underwhelmed by it” and that those education schools had been “magnets for ideology” at the expense of facts.
DeSantis also addressed how he said ideology had affected the medical field, discussing gender reassignment surgeries among minors and gender dysphoria.
“If you look what’s happening in our society, you see institutions being infected with ideology at the expense of facts and reality. We’re fighting this thing with the medical board because they want to do sex change operations for minors,” DeSantis said. “A 14-year-old cannot get a tattoo, but they are talking, they will do mastectomies and things at the bottom which are very problematic and irreversible. These are kids going through a growing time in their life, there’s a lot of different factors, most of the dysphoria resolves itself by the time they become adults. So why would you disfigure a minor to be able to do?”
DeSantis said the “medical establishment” had “globbed” onto the idea, saying it was something they may view as “an opportunity” but also that he wasn’t sure how they “were couching it.”
The governor said it was a lot of ideology, instead of data, being put into the medical field. In that vein, he again referenced COVID mitigation policies such as masking and school closures, saying the medical professional who said those things were similarly wrong at the time.
“It was not grounded in data, it was not grounded in evidence,” DeSantis said, describing how mask icons and syringe pictures had “taken over” people’s identities online. “They lied to us about the mRNA shots, they said if you take it you will not get COVID. That is false, that is not true, and they continue to say, even when the evidence is so overwhelming, that not only is that not true, people that have multiple boosters, you definitely have risk… Time and time again, you see ideology being placed over data and evidence.”
In June, DeSantis made similar claims about the COVID-19 vaccines while at an event in Callahan. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, still promote vaccination, and still say the vaccines are safe and effective. Neither agency claims the vaccines are 100% effective, but stand by the vaccines as a way to mitigate infection and symptoms. The governor did not provide data to support his claims at the event on Tuesday.
The governor said due to incorrect ideology, people will “constantly shift” rather than admit they’re wrong, and listed off going up against a variety of people and organizations on behalf of Floridians, such as “woke corporations” and the Environmental Social Governance business rating system.
“Obviously in the classroom we’ve battled a lot of ideologies. What I’ve said is the state of Florida is the place where woke goes to die,” he said. “We are not going to let this state descend into some type of woke dumpster fire. We’re going to be following common sense, we’re going to be following facts.”