WASHINGTON — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis delivered a stinging critique of liberal-controlled cities and public schooling Friday, saying at one point that children in Chicago were “more likely to get shot” than get a good education.
The newly minted 2024 Republican presidential candidate made the comment to a homeschooling convention in Orlando, in his first speech since announcing his White House candidacy Wednesday night.
“Nobody wants to admit that they wanted to lock kids out of school for a year and a half because you’ve seen the results,” DeSantis said, discussing the impact of school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“From 2020 to 2022, people have just totally vanished from some of these urban school districts across the country.”
“Chicago, 25,000 fewer students than in 2020; Los Angeles, 43,000 fewer students than in 2020; New York, 50,000 fewer students than in 2020. In Florida, our school enrollment is up,” the governor went on.
“When you think of a place like Chicago, these kids, you’re more likely to get shot than you are to get a world-class education in some of these places.”
DeSantis first came to national prominence by insisting that schools and business reopen during the outbreak, resisting criticism from Democrats, the media and even then-President Donald Trump.
“We have to be honest about the destruction that we have seen throughout our country over the last three years, particularly in these urban areas that turn their back on our school children and put the interests of school unions ahead of the interest of parents and students,” the governor said Friday.
DeSantis also pointed to the Biden administration’s liberal influences in education as a driving force behind what he called “the decline and the corruption of education throughout our country” since the Democrat took office, calling it “a mortal threat to the viability of a free society.”
The governor went on to laud his efforts in education in the Sunshine State, listing among his accomplishments a “Florida Parents Bill of Rights” he signed last year that banned classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.
The legislation drew harsh criticism from the left, which dubbed it the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
“You have a right to know what is being taught in your kids’ school. And if there are materials that are inappropriate because of age or they violate Florida standards, you have the right to blow the whistle on that now,” he said.
“We have empowered parents to do that.”
The presidential hopeful also claimed to have rid Florida schools of “toxic ideologies” such as critical race theory and diversity, equity and inclusion programs, which DeSantis said divide society rather than unite it.
“We understand that our school system should be about educating kids, not indoctrinating kids. We are doing our part to ensure that freedom survives into the future — Florida is doing it right,” he said.
“Florida is taking on the key issues head-on [when it’s] so much easier to just sit there like a potted plant and not want to get involved in these issues.”
DeSantis said he counted his efforts in Florida as successes that he would take with him to the White House, if elected.
“We’re [fighting back] in Tallahassee by empowering parents by providing curriculum transparency by fighting gender ideology, and CRT,” he said.
“We are doing our part to ensure that freedom survives into the future.”