Illinois governor swipes at DeSantis with ‘demagogue’ claim

Illinois Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker denounced “demagogues who are pushing censorship” in his annual state of the state address Wednesday, taking thinly-veiled shots at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other Republicans who are cracking down on critical race theory in schools. Addressing the Illinois legislature, Pritzker referenced Abraham Lincoln and quoted Elie Wiesel before condemning “a virulent strain of nationalism plaguing our nation.” Without mentioning DeSantis by name, he spoke out against “an ideological battle by the right wing” to “ban books” and tell children “they can’t talk about being gay.”  These were clear references to DeSantis, whose administration rejected an AP course in African American studies that included reparations, Black Lives Matter and queer studies as topics in its pilot program – though those topics were removed from the final version.  DeSantis has called the course “historically inaccurate,” while the College Board accused the Florida Department of Education of “slander” in their back-and-forth. DeSantis also championed a Parental Rights in Education law that removed sexual orientation and gender identity content from grades K-3 in Florida’s schools, which critics misleadingly labeled the “Don’t Say Gay” law.  COLLEGE BOARD FIRES BACK AT DESANTIS FOR ‘SLANDER’ AGAINST AP COURSE: SETTING THE ‘RECORD STRAIGHT’ Quoting Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, Pritzker said he felt “obligated” to speak out against these efforts. “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented,” the Illinois governor said in his address. “There is a virulent strain of nationalism plaguing our nation, led by demagogues who are pushing censorship, with a particular attack right now on school board members and library trustees,” he continued. “It’s an ideological battle by the right wing, hiding behind a claim that they would protect our children – but whose real intention is to marginalize people and ideas they don’t like. This has been done in the past, and it doesn’t stop with just snuffing out ideas.” GOV. DESANTIS ANNOUNCES DIGITAL BILL OF RIGHTS TO PROTECT FLORIDIANS FROM BIG TECH SURVEILLANCE, CENSORSHIP “This afternoon I’ve laid out a budget agenda that does everything possible to invest in the education of our children,” said Prtizker, who has proposed a $49.6 billion state budget with $956 million in increased education spending. “Yet it’s all meaningless if we become a nation that bans books from school libraries about racism suffered by Roberto Clemente and Hank Aaron, and tells kids they can’t talk about being gay, and signals to Black and Brown people and Asian Americans and Jews and Muslims that our authentic stories can’t be told.” Democrats launched into a standing ovation at this remark, while Republicans sat silently. Pritzker went on to speak about his two children and their education. “I don’t want them to be lied to,” he said. “I want them to learn our true history, warts and all.”  ILLINOIS GOV. JB PRITZKER TO PROPOSE UNIVERSAL PRESCHOOL IN STATE OF THE BUDGET ADDRESS Pritzker has previously opposed DeSantis’ efforts to push back against so-called “woke” elements of the AP program. Pritzker wrote to the College Board in January encouraging them to resist “the political grandstanding of Governor DeSantis.”  “I am extremely troubled by recent news reports that claim Governor DeSantis is pressuring the College Board to change the AP African American Studies course in order to fit Florida’s racist and homophobic laws,” he wrote.  Bryan Griffin, DeSantis’ press secretary, said at the time that the Florida Department of Education rejected the African American studies AP course because it “lacks educational value and historical accuracy.” “As submitted, the course is a vehicle for a political agenda and leaves large, ambiguous gaps that can be filled with additional ideological material, which we will not allow. As Governor DeSantis has stated, our classrooms will be a place for education, not indoctrination,” the spokesman said. Fox News’ Adam Sabes contributed to this report.
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