Source: Editorial Board
Ahead of the GOP Convention in Greensboro, advocates and leaders from both North Carolina and Florida held a press conference to discuss the ever-growing extremism plaguing politics in both states.
With Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis making an appearance at the convention this year, advocates conveyed a clear connection between the Republican presidential candidate and North Carolina’s GOP gubernatorial candidate Mark Robinson.
“Republican leaders, like Mark Robinson and Ron DeSantis, are taking us farther and farther away from what most people in North Carolina, Florida and all over the United States are willing to tolerate,” stated North Carolina Rep. Graig Meyer during the presser. “We need to put a stop to that and make sure that we’re taking care of our communities.”
Under DeSantis’s leadership, Florida has become notorious for its extremist policies, including the controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill, major privatization of public schools, censoring classrooms, a six-week abortion ban, discriminatory laws targeting immigrant communities, and banning books.
According to the nonprofit organization PEN America, between 2021 and 2022, Florida had the second-highest number of book-banning incidents in the nation – trailing only Texas.
“(DeSantis) He is continuously perpetuating culture wars that divide us targeting already marginalized people bullying, LGBTQ plus youth,” stated Florida Rep. Anna V. Eskamani during the call. “Meanwhile, while he leads in this way, so many of our just everyday institutions are neglected and dismantled.”
In recent months, Florida has most notably made headlines for its attacks towards LGBTQ youth, and DeSantis’ battle with Disney.
“(DeSantis) His attacks on the Walt Disney World company, one of our largest employers in the States, has led to not only the state being sued, but now we’re seeing different conventions get canceled in Florida, because different groups, they don’t want to be in a state where freedoms are stripped away. We’re LGBTQ people under attack when they can’t be their authentic self safely,” Eskamani added.
“What Mark Robinson and Ron DeSantis want to do by pushing book bands at whitewashing history is they want to use those schools as a weapon for division,” stated Meyer. “They’re hurting our public education in a way that ultimately will hurt all of us.”
Florida and North Carolina, among many other states, are experiencing a teacher shortage. Numerous polls in the past year have indicated that classroom censorship measures, book bans, lackluster teacher pay and lack of support, have contributed to a mass exodus of teachers.
“Discriminatory practices proposed by Robinson is precisely what North Carolina does not need. We don’t need Robinson in leadership. The Republican budget drains funding for public schools. It fails to address below-average teacher pay, which I was a victim of, and it also prioritizes millionaires,” stated Dr. Aimy Steele, a former K-12 teacher and school principal in North Carolina.
“North Carolina Republicans with the blessing of Mark Robinson are looking to set back our schools for a generation and that is not okay. The Republican budget and extreme agenda cuts mental health funding is abuse hate, and it defines the true identity of students, and that’s not OK. Just like we don’t need politicians in our doctor’s offices, we certainly don’t need politicians like Mark Robinson and Ron DeSantis.”
Watch the full press conference here.