Ron DeSantis rebuked by  congresswoman for trying to turn schools into a 'haunted house'
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to guests at the Nebraska Steak Fry in Nebraska City in 2021. (Right Cheer/Matt Johnson)

Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) criticized Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for trying to turn schools into a "haunted house" and scaring parents into thinking that their children are somehow being turned into monsters.

Republicans in Florida have been waging what they call a battle for parents to have a greater say over what their children learn in school.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Wilson explained she's not sure that DeSantis is a "little Trump" because Trump isn't "smart enough" to come up with issues like critical race theory or the 'don't say gay' bill to attack public education.

"This man has taken a theory that's only available in colleges, universities, and law schools," Wilson explained. "Critical race theory has never been mentioned, taught or even considered in any public school across this country. Never! And he has made people think that little children are learning critical race theory across the nation... then he turned around and called it a culture war."

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The Republican governor is seen as a possible presidential contender for his party in 2024 -- possibly challenging Trump if he decides to runs again.

The state's so-called "don't say gay" law bans teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity "in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards."

The education war in Florida also centers on teaching of critical race theory, the doctrine holding that racism is an inherent part of law and legal institutions in America in that they serve to maintain social, economic and political inequality.

Wilson said that DeSantis is pretending to stand up for the children, but the reality is far from it.

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"The difference is — one is Mr. Trump is dumb, Mr. DeSantis is smart. What he has done is created little vignettes to mislead the American people. He's made parents think that they should run the public schools when we have principals and administrators who we have trusted for years," Wilson continued, pointing out that DeSantis is a product of public schools.

"Parents don't have to show up at a school board meeting to run a school. They know to respect the will of the parents and what parents need for their children. These are trained experts. I was one of them. So, I know. But he has made the school district as a sinful place. That they talk about 'gays!' I mean, hello. Give me a break. This man has taken little vignettes of culture and made them into haunted houses and monsters. He has permeated fear not just in Florida but it has permeated across the nation. That's what's so amazing."


With additional reporting by Matt Laslo and AFP