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Federal judge refuses to temporarily block Florida curriculum ban

Federal judge refuses to temporarily block Florida curriculum ban

Higher Ed Dive

Laura Spitalniak
November 7, 2023
Dive Brief:
  • A federal judge Friday denied a request to temporarily block a Florida law that limits what public colleges can teach, calling the free speech concerns raised by professors and students “entirely too speculative.”
  • In August, a coalition of New College of Florida professors and students sued the Florida education commissioner over a law championed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis that bars professors from teaching about “certain topics or presenting information in specified ways” in general education core courses. The lawsuit also names New College’s trustees and the Florida university system’s board of governors.
  • But U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ruled the group lacked standing to seek a preliminary injunction. “If you dislike a law or are afraid of possible future consequences, you cannot simply invoke the jurisdiction of this Court based solely on how you feel or what you believe may happen,” he wrote Friday.
Dive Insight:
In May, DeSantis signed a bill into law limiting public college instruction on certain subjects, like “theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression, and privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States and were created to maintain social, political, and economic inequities.”
It also bars public colleges from spending on diversity, equity and inclusion programs, or on those that “promote or engage in political or social activism.”
NCF Freedom, the plaintiff group behind the lawsuit, argued that the law censors free speech and violates the First Amendment. The professors and students also expressed concern that faculty salaries would be cut based on their speech in the classroom.
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