Good, bad: Showing up, telling the truth and banning a book make the list this week | Editorial
Here are some highlights and lowlights from the week.
U.S. Sen. Rick Scott will run for reelection.
U.S. Sen. Rick Scott will run for reelection. [ CHRIS O'MEARA | AP ]
This article represents the opinion of the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board.
Published Jan. 28

An honest campaign? Sen. Rick Scott says he will run for reelection, and give him props for — so far, at least — campaigning on what he believes rather than solely what people may want to hear. He told NBC News he will stick to much of his widely criticized “Rescue America” plan, including parts that would impose restrictions on voting and require reauthorization of all legislation after five years (yes, funding for Social Security and Medicare, too). “I’m going to continue to push it,” Scott said. “I tell people these are my ideas. Let’s start fighting over ideas.” With this sort of honesty, at least voters will know what they are getting.

They showed up. Give credit to Christopher Rufo and Jason “Eddie” Speir, two of the six conservatives appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to the New College of Florida board of trustees, for going to campus to actually meet with students and faculty and listen to their questions and concerns. They certainly didn’t allay fears that they plan to radically revamp the college or worries about their views toward “woke” culture and the LGBTQ community on campus. But meeting in person was a simple and important gesture. “When I read about you in the media, you seem crazy,” Diego Villada, a professor of theater, told the two. “Standing here, I feel like I understand the words that are coming out of your mouth.” Part of critical thinking, which New College appropriately prides itself on, is engaging in exactly these sorts of discussions.

The blackest eye. Give poor marks to the Pinellas County school system for banning The Bluest Eye, a masterpiece of literature by the late Nobel laureate Toni Morrison. Yes, the book is difficult and has uncomfortable subject matter. That’s the point. “We are erring on the side of caution, per the language of (new state) training,” the district’s chief academic officer told the school board. The district looked at the book after complaints from one parent, who said she intends to remove all her children from public school anyway. Rather than banning a book, the district should have informed parents about it, allowed their students to opt out and left it at that. That’s an example of “choice,” so popular in school circles now. A blanket ban on a book is taking away choice. “Erring on the side of caution” is a sadly limp educational philosophy. Banning the book hurts the advanced students who are willing and wishing to be stretched by reading it in a guided classroom setting — or just to check it out of the school library if their parents allow.

Time for a truth serum. The governor should stop spreading disinformation about mRNA vaccines for COVID-19. His latest whopper? ”Almost every study now has said with these new boosters, you’re more likely to get infected with the bivalent booster,” he said at a news conference this month. In fact, an author of one of the studies the governor’s office cited said the data did not find a link between the bivalent shot and a higher risk of contracting COVID. PolitiFact reports that the study’s early conclusion was the exact opposite of what DeSantis said: The dose is, in fact, effective at preventing infection. Of course, it is up to individuals to decide whether or not to get the bivalent booster. But fewer than 11% of eligible Floridians have received one, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the governor’s falsehoods certainly aren’t helping Floridians to make a reasoned decision.

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Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Editor of Editorials Graham Brink, Sherri Day, Sebastian Dortch, John Hill, Jim Verhulst and Chairman and CEO Conan Gallaty. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news.