Florida Rejects Math Textbooks Over Critical Race Theory

The Florida Department of Education announced on Friday that it is rejecting 41 percent of math textbooks submitted by publishers for its K-12 curriculum, claiming that some contained critical race theory (CRT). The agency described its decision as necessary to prevent the “indoctrination” of students. “Math is about getting the right answer,” Governor Ron DeSantis said on Monday. “And we want kids to learn to think so they get the right answer. It’s not about how you feel about the problem.”

DeSantis and the Department of Education have not, however, provided any examples of exactly how CRT, which isn’t being taught in any K-12 curriculum in Florida, is somehow present in math books. Affected publishers interviewed by The New York Times say that they have not received any details, either.

Lieutenant Governor Jeannette Nunez went on Fox News to talk about the move on Monday. She, too, offered no examples.

The Florida Department of Education did not provide any examples when reached for comment. DeSantis Press Secretary Christina Pushaw sent Rolling Stone two reasons examples have not been provided. One is that “until [the textbooks] are approved through the competitive bid process, many of these textbooks contain confidential and proprietary content.” The other is that publishers have the opportunity to “appeal any non-adoption decision and substitute or revise their submitted bids to be included on the state’s adopted list.”

Regardless of the reasons for the state’s inability to provide examples, the question remains as to how grade-school math textbooks could be advancing CRT. Nevertheless, this is what the state is alleging.

“It seems that some publishers attempted to slap a coat of paint on an old house built on the foundation of Common Core, and indoctrinating concepts like race essentialism, especially, bizarrely, for elementary school students,” DeSantis said last week. “I’m grateful that Commissioner Corcoran and his team at the Department have conducted such a thorough vetting of these textbooks to ensure they comply with the law.”

The governor did away with Common Core in 2020, replacing it with Benchmarks for Excellent Student Think (BEST) standards.

The department rejected 70 percent of materials for those in kindergarten through fifth grade, 20 percent for sixth to eighth graders, and 35 percent for high schoolers. In all, 54 of 132 textbooks were rejected. Of these, 28 were rejected “because they incorporate prohibited topics or unsolicited strategies, including CRT,” according to the statement.

Last month, DeSantis signed legislation making it easier for parents to raise objections to books they think teach CRT concepts. Last year, the education board banned the teaching of critical race theory, a move DeSantis has also pushed through legislation. “What you’ve seen with this rise in woke ideology is an attempt to really delegitimize our history and to delegitimize our institutions. I view wokeness as a form of cultural Marxism,” DeSantis said when introducing the “Stop W.O.K.E. Act” in December. “They really want to tear at the fabric of our society and our culture and things that we’ve taken for granted, like the ability of parents to direct the upbringing of their kids.”

State Democrats over the weekend voiced their disapproval to the education board’s decision. Rep. Carlson Smith wrote on Twitter that DeSantis “has turned our classrooms into political battlefields.” State Sen. Shevrin Jones reacted: “No, this is not 1963, it’s 2022 in the ‘Free State of Florida.’”

DeSantis recently signed into the law the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which prohibits teachers in kindergarten through third grade from discussing LGBTQ issues. The governor had criticized opponents of the legislation — like Disney, one of the state’s largest economic driver — as “woke.”