Unlike most Republicans, Ron DeSantis doesn’t seem to have a penchant for backing down, and he’s not doing so in the face of mutinous school districts seeking to defy his ban on mask mandates for school children.
The Florida governor put out the original order some weeks ago. That was a no-brainer, in my view, as children are not at serious risk from COVID and also don’t represent a serious spread vector. Those contentions were proven true last year as schools opened up across the country, some without mask mandates, with the results speaking for themselves. Further, because teachers have all had the chance to get vaccinated at this point, there’s no excuse to keep using children as human shields in regards to policy.
Masks, specifically the cloth variant children wear, aren’t effective in general, but that’s especially true when talking about an age group that can’t be expected to wear them properly. Masks can restrict breathing, cause skin issues, and are just generally unsanitary for kids when they are worn all day. There are also serious psychological issues to be concerned about.
Getting back on track, though, DeSantis’ order was disobeyed by several school districts that said they would impose a mask mandate anyway. The Florida Board of Education responded by allowing parents to collect vouchers for their education dollars, removing funding from the schools in question.
But DeSantis’ latest move may be the one that makes the most difference.
#BREAKING: @GovRonDeSantis office released a statement to #CBS4 that @EducationFL could withhold the salaries of superintendents and school board members who implement #maskmandates. Full statement ➡️ https://t.co/1XP7fMtPO7
— CBS4 Miami (@CBSMiami) August 9, 2021
This appears to still be in the planning stages, but DeSantis has been working closely with the state’s board of education. That’s where the voucher program came from. Given that there’s no reason to doubt that this action will be taken in the near future. If it is, it’s going to put these superintendents and other school board members in a position where they can’t just virtue signal for media plaudits anymore. Instead, they’ll be getting hit in their own wallets, and that tends to get people to back down.
This is why so many people like DeSantis. Whether he can ultimately win this fight or not is an open question, but he’s willing to fight it regardless. That’s a quality not found in many Republicans, most of which are always looking for an exit ramp in regards to conflict. DeSantis, on the other hand, puts the residents of his state first, not kowtowing to media pressure. He puts his neck on the line and does what he thinks is right. That, in a nutshell, is leadership.
We’ll see where all this goes. School starts this week in most of Florida so it’s crunch time, and parents need to be willing to practice disobedience as well.