It all began when Democratic Congressman Jon Cooper stated, “DeSantis signs a bill that requires Florida professors and students to register their political opinions with the state.”
“Ron DeSantis is requiring teachers to declare their political connection to the Republican state legislatures of Florida,” charged Dash Dobrofsky, a so-called Dem. strategist who has more than 59,000 followers. “If legislators aren’t ‘satisfied’ with responses, they can cut off funding for those schools. This isn’t Freedom of Speech. It’s Fascism. Vote for Charlie Crist.”
Then following up with some hot take-style videos talking about how DeSantis had “just passed a bill” that requires public school instructors and pupils to “submit their political views” to the state via a survey.
There are no “state legislatures” in Florida other than the Tallahassee one, and DeSantis cannot “pass a piece of legislation,” as alleged. However, the major problem with these stories is that they aren’t true and that the bill that was passed and signed into law concerning politics in schools dates back to last year, as Jay O’Brien, ABC News reporter pointed out.
O’Brien in particular appeared to be enraged, perhaps due to him working for CBS 12’s news team and knows the real facts about this bill. He linked to a Politifact check that debunked similar claims made about the legislation last year as well as the legislation itself and a sample of the questionnaire.
As we pointed out when the bill was signed, when “news” organizations like The Washington Post and The Hill lied about it, it did not accomplish what DeSantis’ opponents said it would. It is made clear in the 12-page bill’s text.
The bill does not “require students and professors in Florida to register their political opinions with the state” as Cooper claimed, nor is it “forcing teachers to declare their political affiliation to Florida’s Republican state legislatures,” as Dobrofsky said. What the legislation does do is make them obligated to answer whether they feel comfortable to express their political views on campus and whether they think a variety of viewpoints are present. There’s a significant distinction between the two.