An MSNBC columnist tweeted Tuesday that Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is “dangerous” and “authoritarian” because he proposed that children should not use cellphones during class.
The Florida governor told reporters during a Monday press conference that students appear to be distracted from their lessons because of the large amount of cellphone usage. He proposed that children should store their phones in their backpacks or cubbies and save the use of their personal tablets for recess as a solution to these distractions.
The columnist, Ruth Ben-Ghiat, said the governor has “an authoritarian personality” in response to this proposal. Ben-Ghiat is also a history professor at New York University (NYU) and has written books on “anti-democratic leaders,” according to her personal website.
“He is so dangerous in every way,” columnist Ruth Ben-Ghiat tweeted in response. “Truly an authoritarian personality.”
He is so dangerous in every way. Truly an authoritarian personality https://t.co/SrRFfjdJRw
— Ruth Ben-Ghiat (@ruthbenghiat) January 24, 2023
Ben-Ghiat responded to a post using the word “confiscate” to describe DeSantis’ proposal, which suggests that the governor is willing to forcefully seize children’s phones. The Florida governor never indicated that phones should be “confiscated,” but merely suggested that kids put their phones away until recess to pay closer attention to their classwork. (RELATED: DeSantis Admin Mandates Training For School Librarians To Vet Pornographic Books)
“I think to myself, why are these kids on their phones during class all the times?” DeSantis said at the news conference. “I mean, I think a school district would be totally within their right to say, ‘you know what? Leave your phone in some cubby or something, go sit in class, learn, and if you want, get it at recess and if you want to text people, fine.’ But they should not be always on their phones being distracted from their lessons.”
The governor faced scrutiny from his critics after the Florida Department of Education (DOE) rejected an advanced placement (AP) level high school course focusing on African American history since it contains elements of critical race theory (CRT). The course included sections and readings narrowing in on queer studies, intersectionality and femininity. It also mandated a reading by Eduardo Bonilla Silva, which examines “how Whites talk, think, and account for the existence of racial inequality and makes clear that color-blind racism is as insidious now as ever.”
The agency said the course’s framework lacked “educational value and historical accuracy,” but allowed for a new proposal on an African American studies course. The College Board, who proposed the course, intends to release a new framework on Feb. 1.