Post # 264, Bob McKnight's Florida Commentary
Don't Just Protest DeSantis' Freedom Trick on Education--Register, Then Vote.
In 1968, our country was at war in Vietnam. I had finished graduate school at Florida State University and was starting my two-year ROTC commitment as an officer in the United States Army. I was stationed in New York City so I was exposed to some of the loudest student protests about the war in the country. I knew my position as an officer sworn to support our country left me in a precarious position to protest our involvement in Vietnam. Like many Americans, I felt President Johnson was not being truthful about American ships being attacked in the Tonkin Gulf, which was the legal authority for Congress to commit us to war.
In 1972, President Nixon also lied to the American people about the decisions he made in ending the war. But again, there were vocal and emotional protests. But when it came time for the protestors to vote, they did not have time. Nixon won and with his bravado, launched Watergate. It was a lesson learned--protestors must vote to be effective.
The last few weeks in Florida have brought back many of those Vietnam memories. Today in Florida our governor has asked the legislature for new laws he favors authorizing the state to approve public education curriculum, textbooks, and subjects studied. With the laws in place, he is now leading a singular attack to remove duly elected School Board Members who object to the new laws.
Some students, teachers, and parents have objected to this DeSantis role of state government in local schools since all 67 counties have elected School Boards. Governor DeSantis never mentioned public education as a critical issue during his initial campaign, so many suspect that DeSantis was trying to copy President Trump at the national level. DeSantis, an adept salesman, has branded his attack on public schools as "Fighting for Freedom in our Schools," to divert attention from what is obviously a political trick.
Some critics point out that Teacher Unions are often the target of Republicans like DeSantis. Perhaps that is why he is also leading the fight to divert public monies from public schools to vouchers for private and parochial schools.
The protests over DeSantis's involvement in local school education in Florida appear to be growing. But as explained above, my experience from Vietnam some 50 years ago, is that protests are the easy part. Protestors need to register to vote, then study the issues and candidates carefully. The protestors need to get involved in the campaigns directly, with time and money as they can afford. But the last thing protestors must do is vote. It is your duty and responsibility as an American. Without voting, all the noise is just that. It was that in 1972 and it will be in 2024 if the protestors do not vote. We fought wars for that right, and it must be exercised.
Protesting and objecting to the governor's actions is only half the job in fighting the state taking over our schools. The protestors, if serious, need to register to vote and get involved with electing people who want schools free of state control. That is how Americans change their government--with their vote.