In his annual state of the state address on Wednesday, Illinois Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker criticized “demagogues who are promoting censorship,” firing veiled criticisms at Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and other Republicans who are trying to outlaw critical race theory in schools.
Speaking to the Illinois Assembly, Pritzker cited Elie Wiesel and Abraham Lincoln before denouncing “a malignant strain of nationalism afflicting our nation.” He denounced “an ideological struggle by the right wing” to “block books” and warn kids “they can’t talk about being gay” without specifically referencing DeSantis.
These were unmistakable allusions to DeSantis, whose administration rejected an AP course in African American studies that featured reparations, Black Lives Matter, and queer studies as topics in its pilot program – albeit those topics were dropped from the final edition.
In their back-and-forth, DeSantis referred to the course as “historically wrong,” while the College Board charged the Florida Department of Education with “slander.” DeSantis also supported the Parents’ Rights in Education Act, which its detractors incorrectly refer to as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, and prohibited sexual orientation and gender identity information from being taught in Florida’s kindergarten through third-grade classrooms.
Pritzker claimed that he was “obligated” to speak out against these initiatives and cited Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. “We have to always pick a side. Never helping the sufferer, neutrality benefits the oppressor. Never the victim, silence only empowers the tormentor “In his speech, the governor of Illinois said.
He said, “There is a virulent strain of nationalism afflicting our country, led by demagogues pushing censorship, with a specific attack on school board members and library trustees. “The right-wing is engaged in an intellectual conflict while disguising their true goal: to marginalize those who disagree with them and their ideas while claiming that they would safeguard our children. This has been done before and goes beyond just putting an end to ideas.”
Pritzker, who has proposed a $49.6 billion state budget with an increase in education spending of $956 million, stated, “Today afternoon I’ve laid out a financial strategy that does all necessary to invest in the education of our children.” “Yet it’s all meaningless if we become a nation that forbids books about the racism experienced by Hank Aaron and Roberto Clemente from being kept in school libraries, tells children they can’t talk about being gay, and sends a message to Black and Brown people, Asian Americans, Jews, and Muslims that our real stories can’t be told,” said the author.
At this statement, Democrats gave a standing ovation as Republicans remained silent.
Pritzker continued by talking about the education of his two children.
He declared, “I don’t want them to be lied to. I want children to understand our entire, authentic history.
“In its current form, the course serves as a platform for a political agenda and has significant, unclear voids that may be filled with additional ideological content, which we will not accept. Our classrooms will be a place for education, not indoctrination, as Governor DeSantis has indicated “the spokesman added.