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In Florida, let knowledge defeat ignorance in our schools | Letters
Here’s what readers are saying in Friday’s letters to the editor.
Opponents, left, and supporters of a mask mandate, right, square off outside the Pinellas County school district headquarters before the school board’s regular meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, in Largo.
Opponents, left, and supporters of a mask mandate, right, square off outside the Pinellas County school district headquarters before the school board’s regular meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, in Largo. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Nov. 5

Let knowledge win

The kids can handle America’s real history. Why can’t adults? | Column, Nov. 4

In May 1994, saying that “knowledge is the antidote to the poison of prejudice,” Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles signed into law a measure requiring public schools to teach Black history. Two weeks before that, he signed a similar bill making Holocaust education mandatory in state schools. As I recall, there was little or no backlash. Our current governor would never do such a thing, and if he did there would be angry mobs at school board meetings complaining about the teaching of “critical race theory,” a decades-old concept dug up by right-wing news media that most Americans can’t even define. How times have changed, and not for the better.

Joseph Brown, Tampa

Don’t be silenced

Five more at UF gagged | Nov. 4

As a University of Florida graduate and as a lawyer who has needed to hire expert witnesses to testify in lawsuits, especially ones with unique Florida law issues, I find the muzzling of UF professors — which prevents them from offering their expertise — to be deeply troubling. One of the gagged professors, Jeffrey Goldhagen, said it best: ”I don’t think it is hyperbole when I say this is how totalitarian regimes unfold. If you deny science and you deny the universities the critical role they play in American society, then you truncate free speech, academic freedom and the dissemination of information.” Apparently, all of that talk that we hear from Gov. Ron DeSantis about “protecting freedom” has vastly different meanings for different people. Kudos to those professors who refuse to be silenced.

Gary Gibbons, St. Petersburg

Moral courage

Five more at UF gagged | Nov. 4

I’d like to thank University of Florida professors Sharon Austin, Michael McDonald and Daniel Smith for showing moral courage in their fight for the First Amendment. Unfortunately, UF President Kent Fuchs and Levin College of Law Dean Laura Ann Rosenbury have displayed little moral courage. From businesses to college professors, governing in Florida has evolved to, “Either you applaud my every move or I will punish you.” Meanwhile, Ohio GOP Senate candidate J.D. Vance is tweeting that “the professors are the enemy.” What are DeSantis and Vance afraid the professors will tell us? As Sinclair Lewis wrote, “It can happen here.”

Terrence Callahan, Crystal Beach