Loyalty oaths for teachers in Florida’s new Red Scare
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis claims Florida schools have become 'socialism factories,' and he wants to force teachers to reveal their political opinions. | AP

The Red Scare is back in Florida. As was reported by People’s World last month, the Republican-led government of the state has been ramping up its attacks on democracy with a special focus on using the state education system to spread anti-communist ideology. Anti-communism almost always goes hand in hand with the promotion of racism (covert or overt) and other repressive or fascist-like ideologies. Right on cue, the government of Florida is showing the accuracy of that assessment.

The law signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis will require Florida state schools to survey the political affiliations of all their teaching staff. The governor says Florida schools have become “socialism factories” and that this bill will put an end to this imaginary problem.

Such laws are a callback to the infamous “blacklists” of the McCarthyite 1950s, during which professionals were banned from work in many fields and persecuted because they were communists or suspected of being communists. At its height, thousands of Americans were banned or shunned from their places of work, and even more were intimidated into keeping their thoughts secret to avoid such a fate. People were intimidated or blackmailed into falling in line with anti-communism. A few years ago, it was generally accepted that the McCarthyite era was a stain on the democratic history of the U.S., but apparently, the Florida Republican Party has reconsidered.

The Florida governor insists that these surveys, which will not be anonymous, will not be used for purposes of hiring, firing, and promotions—which, if true, begs the question of how it will address the DeSantis’s issue with left-wing teachers “indoctrinating students.” So is the goal simply to instill fear among educators?

This law has another provision that allows students to film their teachers so that they can sue them. Republicans claim this is meant to protect students from “indoctrination,” but it can easily be used to intimidate teachers that may have beliefs with which some students disagree. This is an all-out assault on teachers’ freedom and ability to teach their students as they have been trained to do.

This latest law is part of a general overall Republican-led assault on education and democracy across the United States. Just two weeks ago, Florida forbade schools from teaching critical race theory. A number of other Republican-governed states look to follow in line.

Equally transparently, many Republican-ruled states have been passing laws in order to suppress their citizens’ ability to vote. These laws are specifically aimed at minorities and working-class people because they are more likely to vote against Republicans. Now, Florida is leading the way in the next phase and trying to prevent children from learning any ideas that the Republican Party considers “stale,” as the governor choose to label them.

Some more progressive members of Congress have been trying to fight back against this Republican assault on democracy. The “For the People Act” was proposed with the hope of defending the voting rights of Americans. The bill passed the House, but got stuck in the Senate due to a lack of support from corporate Democrats and the threat of a Republican filibuster.

The Republican Party is doing all it can to make sure they do not lose any power. The easiest way to attain that goal is to make it harder for people to vote, and to ban the teaching of any ideas that the Republican Party disagrees with or which could threaten their rule. These are the bricks that are used to lay the road to fascism.


CONTRIBUTOR

Amiad Horowitz
Amiad Horowitz

Amiad Horowitz studied history with a specific focus on Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh. He lives in Hanoi, Vietnam.

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