Former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis are both focusing heavily on education policy in the run-up to the 2024 election, suggesting the issue will take center stage over the next two years. DeSantis is already on the warpath in Florida, as Trump vows to wrest control of schools from “radical left maniacs” and “pink-haired communists” in his second term.
Among other tactics, both men are vowing to ramp up conservative defenses in the ongoing culture war within schools as public education becomes increasingly radicalized — and unpopular with parents desperate to stop the sexualization and indoctrination of their children at taxpayer expense. Even many Democrats are unhappy.
As the 2024 election heats up and more GOP challengers emerge, DeSantis has still not formally announced that he is running, though it is common knowledge in Tallahassee that the popular governor will throw his hat in the ring at some point. Education policy has been a signature issue that propelled “America’s Governor” to national stardom.
Indeed, DeSantis developed a national reputation as a conservative champion on education by taking on the “Branch Covidians” and their totalitarian COVID policies, including forced masking of children. He has also secured perceived policy wins such as protections against sexualizing young children and race-mongering in the classroom. And he is tackling “woke” forces in higher education as well.
How DeSantis’ wildly popular policies in Florida would translate to the federal level remains to be seen. However, key education establishment bosses such as American Federation of Teachers (AFT) boss Randi Weingarten and leftwing propagandists have argued that the governor is actually seeking to destroy public education completely.
Trump, who is currently dominating in the polls among GOP primary voters, has also made education a major focus on his campaign. In his recently released “plan to save American education,” Trump outlined a variety of proposals that would use federal power and funds to rein in the escalating woke-ism taking over K-12 schools.
NEW VIDEO: President Trump’s Plan to Save American Education and Give Power Back to Parents pic.twitter.com/aizxaRXIM3— Trump War Room (@TrumpWarRoom) January 26, 2023
In the video, which came before a yet-to-be-released formal plan, Trump vowed to cut federal funding to any “school or program pushing critical race theory, gender ideology, or other inappropriate racial, sexual or political content onto our children.” He also vowed to ensure that “woke” teachers were removed as parents are empowered to have more say through policies such as elections of principals.
“When I’m president, we will put parents back in charge and give them the final say,” Trump said. “We will get back to teaching reading, writing, and math — arithmetic — and we will give our kids the high-quality, pro-America education they deserve. … We’re at the end of every list on education, yet we spend the most. We’re going to change it around.”
In one of the most significant threats, Trump vowed to unleash the Department of Justice and other federal agencies on school officials that engage in “race-based discrimination,” including that aimed at Americans of Asian ancestry. He also promised to keep men out of women’s sports while slashing administrators—especially those working in “diversity and equity” bureaucracies.
Marxist indoctrination will be targeted as well, with Trump saying it resembles an established religion and noting that it is hostile to America’s biblical heritage. “My administration will aggressively pursue potential violations of the establishment clause and the free exercise clause of the Constitution,” Trump declared, adding that he would immediately remove the zealots and radicals who infiltrated education.
During his first campaign, Trump repeatedly slammed Common Core and even suggested multiple times that the U.S. Department of Education should be abolished. As president, he repeatedly warned of the urgent need to protect American children from the “indoctrination” taking place in “failing government schools.”
But despite the rhetoric, Trump’s Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, largely maintained the status quo. From signing international agreements for globalizing education to ensuring that Common Core remained firmly entrenched nationwide, DeVos was remarkably unremarkable considering Trump’s otherwise game-changing presidency. That may change in a second term.
The trend toward relentless focus on education and stopping leftwing extremism in the classroom comes as taking on the far-left education establishment has proven to be a powerful winning strategy for Republicans. In Virginia, analysts widely attributed the major victory of Republican Glenn Youngkin to education policy.
The other contenders who have announced so far, Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy, both of Indian descent, have also lambasted the “woke” propaganda and the hyper-racialism disguised as “diversity.” Still, few analysts are taking them seriously as contenders as Trump and DeSantis dominate the headlines.
This focus on fundamental and systemic issues in education is a welcome development. Because most American children are still in government schools, the issue transcends all others. Unfortunately, reforming a cancer will still leave the victim with cancer. Public education is a burning building — it’s time to evacuate rather than discuss changes to the wallpaper.