Survey: DeSantis’ Policies Will Cost Florida’s Schools

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis may be pushing talent out of his state with his ultra-conservative education and other policies.

Some high schoolers won’t be attending college in Florida, saying they disagree with the policies of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

That’s according to a new survey by showing that wide-reaching changes to K-12 education across the state pushed by the governor and the state’s GOP legislature have left a negative impression with current and prospective students. Among those changes: extensions to what critics call the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which extends a ban on discussing gender identity and sexual orientation through the eighth grade.

DeSantis, 44, who is expected to run for president in 2024, is aiming to transform education in K-12 and college to do away with what he considers “woke” ideology. Among his measures: the Florida Parental Right in Education Act, banning transgender athletes, and passing stricter oversight on children’s textbooks and reading materials. DeSantis’ policies have gained national attention and outcry, though with little blowback to the politician, who defeated his Democratic opponent and won a second term last fall by a nearly 20-point margin.

But as DeSantis turns his focus to higher education, including his Stop WOKE Act and ordering all funding for diversity, equity and inclusion programs to cease, evidence is growing that he may be doing long-term harm to Florida. According to the new survey of prospective undergrads by, 1 in 8 say they won’t attend college in Florida due to his policies, and about 1 in 20 current undergrads say they plan to transfer out-of-state.


According to its education department, Florida has 28 community and state colleges, and 65% of its high schoolers pursue a postsecondary education inside the state. The department also says 82% of minority freshman and sophomores attend one of its public or community schools.

Involving answers from 1,000 students,’s survey was administered by higher education reporters from About 27% of high schoolers surveyed they are likely to go out-of-state for college because they disagree with the governor’s policies. Meanwhile, 57% of surveyors say they will attend an in-state school, while 14% remain unsure. For students staying in Florida for college, well over 75% say they are concerned about what it will mean for their future education.

Of those surveyed, 147 students answered they didn’t disagree with the DeSantis’ policies, a screening question that immediately concluded the survey for those individuals. Those who answered yes to the screening question moved to take the full survey. Of the 1,000 respondents, nearly 360 were in their first year of their undergraduate degree, while the rest were in high school.

The platform Pollfish conducted the survey between March 16 to March 22, which was originally distributed to around 1,630 respondents. Some didn’t pass the initial screening question, while others didn’t fully complete the questionnaire.


The survey results comport with another major poll, not focused exclusively on Florida, showing that 1 in 4 applicants decided against applying to a college this year solely because of the politics in their state. A recent article from the Associated Press covers increasing concerns students at the New College of Florida have for their safety and academic future. The small liberal arts college located in Sarasota, Florida finds itself pressed amid being the target of changes enacted by the governor. Its Board of Trustees were quickly replaced, the replacement of the college’s president followed suit and the next day, the school’s Office of Diversity and Equity was dismantled. At New College, faculty and the student body, with a prominent LGBTQ+ population, compared the actions to a “hostile takeover,” according to the AP.

Some students interestingly answered they disagreed with the governor’s policies on education but wouldn’t attend college elsewhere. The school’s location in Florida, in fact, was the number-one reason picked for remaining in state, while other reasons like the school’s programs and individuals’ financials followed.

Located in Gainesville, Florida, U.S. News ranks the University of Florida as the top school in the state – though it ranks #29 on the publication’s national list. The university touts a large student body, with around 34,200 undergrad students and a grad rate of 88 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard.

For the 2023 Poet&Quants’ Best Undergraduate Business Rankings, Florida Southern College was the only Florida school to make the top 50 programs, and it’s privately run. The only other school in the P&Qs top 100 list was the public research university the Florida International University, Ranked #72.

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