College and high school students in Southwest Florida are joining others across the state walking out of class to protest against Gov. Ron DeSantis and his education policies.
There are planned protests at more than 300 high schools and colleges, mainly in Miami, Jacksonville, Orlando and Sarasota, but the scope stretches all the way to Fort Myers. They have organized the walkout to protest for what they call their educational rights.
There is a three-step plan for the protest. When students walk out at noon, they will text a phone number that is provided to them. Then the students will be texted back a link with opportunities to register to vote if eligible, then plan to use their vote to defend students’ rights. Their registration status will be sent to their school and to DeSantis.
The students will also have the opportunity to participate in a virtual college-level African American history class. Politicians who are backing the walkout say the main goal is to educate students about how DeSantis’ policies have affected the Florida school system.
“The wrongs that have been happening in our state… I’m not even going to just say the last four years, but the last 30 years of our state,” said Nikki Fried, chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party. “This is nothing more than state-mandated censorship and is a direct assault on academic freedom.”
Organizers with Walkout 2 Learn say this will be a 24-hour period of action for students to fight back, educate themselves and work towards a statewide revolution in reaction to what they call the harmful policies of the legislature and governor.
“Instead of focusing on issues that Floridians actually care about, like high property insurance rates, skyrocketing rent, access to affordable health care, just to name a few, Ron DeSantis and the Republican Party are instead waging this culture war with our education system,” Fried said. “DeSantis, you need to go back to governing, like addressing the massive teacher shortage in our state’s public education system, not dictating what educators in our universities or public schools can teach.”
After the walkout at noon—which saw limited participation in Southwest Florida, outside of a brief walkout at Dunbar High School—there will be rallies across the state at 6 p.m. The organizers plan to hold bi-weekly town halls until the 2024 presidential election.