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Florida State's Institute of Politics is in DeSantis's higher ed reform plans

A large red brick building sits on a green lawn under a blue sky.
Alejandro Santiago
WFSU Public Media
Florida State University

Florida State University's Institute of Politics was created by the legislature in 2020 through a million-dollar appropriation. It was modeled after the James Madison Center at Princeton which promotes "advancing the understanding and appreciation of American ideals and institutions."

Right now the FSU IOP conducts some public policy polling and largely hosts speakers and researchers who discuss civics, government and public policy. However, since its inception, its focus has been a bit fuzzy.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is seeking to make that mission clearer.

Under a massive higher education plan unveiled Tuesday, the FSU IOP would begin work on tools K 12 teachers can use to instruct students on what the governor, calls "individual freedom and democracy," in one sheet about the plans posted to his Twitter account.

There are also two other programs similar to FSU's IOP—one is at the University of Florida and the other is at Florida International University.

Under the governor's plan, FIU's program would work on developing a classroom curriculum that can go along with FSU's tools and be distributed to schools. The University of Florida's Hamilton Center would grow into a full college on UF's campus by 2024.

The governor sees the institutes as an opportunity to promote what he calls western ideals, and to push back on what he sees as a "woke" ideology that he believes has permeated public higher education in Florida.

Included in that pushback is a proposal to block public universities from spending money on diversity, equity and inclusion programs, and a call to lawmakers to make it easier for faculty to be hired and fired. Right now, faculty hires are often done through recommendations by members of a faculty committee.

DeSantis also wants lawmakers to put $100 million into faculty recruitment and retention.

Follow @HatterLynn

Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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