Florida has been front and center this year in the war against the state of public education. Education is said to be one of the most important topics to many voters going into elections, and possible 2024 presidential candidate, Gov. Ron DeSantis has enacted sweeping laws this year taking aim at public schools. One of them that was enacted is targeting critical race theory in schools. The Stop WOKE Act officially goes into effect in a little over a month, but a federal judge may soon block the new law before it can take effect.
Florida local news, WPTV, reports that Federal Judge Mark Walker started to review newly signed House Bill 7, known as the Stop WOKE Act earlier this week. DeSantis signed the contentious bill into law two months ago, which bars any practice said to make students feel guilty about their race from school teachings. Because of the broad use of language found in the bill’s text, the judge agreed to review the new law, and may soon decide to stop it from being enacted.
The Stop WOKE Act was raising concerns among liberals even before it was signed into law. Opposers feared it would heavily hinder what teachers can and can not teach through important history lessons about slavery and racism in the United States. If found guilty of violating this new law, teachers could end up in the courtroom. Overall, the plaintiff sending the suit to the judge claims the bill is in direct violation of freedom of speech for teachers.
While it remains unknown how the federal judge will side in this case, there is a good chance he will rule the Stop WOKE Act unconstitutional, and bar it from going into effect. The Barack Obama-appointed judge noted on Tuesday that he had “grave concerns” in regards to the new law’s legal standing. Furthermore, some conservative activist groups have even broken away from the Republican governor and his approval of the new law.
Tallahassee reported that even FIRE, a nonprofit activist group that advocates for free speech across the country have broken away from those in favor of the Stop WOKE Act. While the group claims to be nonpartisan, much of its funding comes from conservative foundations, and they tend to side with Republican viewpoints. Now, the group is calling on the federal judge to block the law, claiming it would open a “pandora’s box” within the state.
Not only might the Stop WOKE Act prohibit free speech, but some also feel that it would allow the state to pick and choose what speech is acceptable and favorable inside schools. In the lawsuit, plaintiffs stated that they fear that the new law could be used to advance political viewpoints, and silence those whom DeSantis and the GOP disagree with.
Still, DeSantis’ lawyers continue to vehemently fight the appeals, alleging there is no issue of which the Stop WOKE Act would violate the First Amendment. Furthermore, they claim that school curriculums, and therefore what teachers teach, are part of “government speech” and therefore can be restricted and regulated. For now, DeSantis, and those opposed to the new law only can wait, as the federal judge reviews the case and mulls over a decision.