by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
What kind of leader is Ron DeSantis? Undoubtedly, we get a clue from his widely discussed suspension of a state attorney who had publicly pledged that he would not enforce state laws against late-term abortions and sex-change surgeries for minors. An equally important clue, however, comes from a battle that far fewer have noticed. DeSantis is at odds with the Biden administration over university accreditation.
Are your eyes glazing over? Well, that is the point. DeSantis is at loggerheads with the Biden administration on an issue of great importance that, sadly, only education policy wonks tend to follow. DeSantis didn’t pick this fight with Biden over accreditation for the sake of tooting his own horn. University accreditation isn’t exactly a populist lightning rod, after all. And it’s actually Biden who is trying to squash DeSantis’s bold state-level move on accreditation, thereby turning the dispute into a federal issue. Policy, not publicity, has been DeSantis’s core motivation from the start.
In short, precisely because you’ve never heard of it, the DeSantis–Biden clash over university accreditation shows who DeSantis really is. Pushing back in unprecedented ways against the faceless bureaucracy that regularly frustrates conservative governance is what DeSantis does — whether or not you’re paying attention. …
… If you want to know why even public universities in red states find it hard to shake the woke ascendency, politicized accreditation is a big part of the reason (along with the quiescence of university regents). For decades, Republicans — much to their shame — have been reluctant to push back against the leftist education bureaucracy. True to form, however, DeSantis has broken that pattern and is leading the way on yet another cultural battle.