‘Prohibited topics’: Is FL right rejecting 41% of school math books?

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Fact Box

  • The Florida Department of Education (FDOE) released a statement on April 15, 2022, rejecting 54 of the 132 mathematics textbooks (41%) reasoning they “incorporated prohibited topics” like Critical Race Theory (CRT), Common Core, and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in mathematics. 
  • In June 2021, FDOE asked publishers to submit mathematics materials in line with their BEST Standards that promote skill, knowledge, clarity, and civics. 
  • Common Core was banned from Florida classrooms in 2019 with Governor Ron DeSantis issuing Executive Order 19-32. On December 15, 2021, DeSantis announced the Stop of Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (WOKE) Act to counter The New York Times’ 1619 Project and critical race theory (CRT). 
  • A 2021 News Gallup poll found 54% of Americans were dissatisfied by the quality of education for kindergarten through grade 12, with 46% approving of educational standards.

Siam (Yes)

Governor DeSantis is leading the push to reform education standards and practices in the Sunshine State, with the Florida Dept. of Education rightfully rejecting 41% of school math books. As the department and Gov. DeSantis reported, many textbooks included harmful 'race essentialism,' as promulgated by Critical Race Theory (CRT), and featured inclusions of Common Core and Social Emotional Learning (SEL). DeSantis makes clear education should focus on bringing out the best academic performance in schoolchildren, saying, 'math is about getting the right answer, and we want kids to learn to think so they get the right answer.' 

Math in K-12, or at any level, should not involve Marxist theories of race and gender, or vague concepts of equity, which have been proven to be ineffective for learning. It leaves children ignorant of basic concepts, like the 'ability to read, write, and sum.' And Florida continues fighting to keep CRT from classrooms as its Marxist roots subvert the American way of life. It teaches the lie that 'America was founded on and defined by racism' and that every institution perpetuates racism. Many other states have likewise begun banning CRT from grade school instruction. 

DeSantis agrees with these other Republican legislators that education should be objective and factual, not based on errant Marxist critical theories of discrimination, oppression, liberation, and equity

By rejecting these math texts, Florida ensures students will not be indoctrinated and inundated with divisive concepts in the classroom. Hopefully, Florida can improve their national score by focusing on real education

Andrew (No)

Florida's Republican-led administration has once again come out with their favorite nonsense theme to excite conservatives: critical race theory (CRT). This banning of textbooks follows on the heels of several bills aimed at stifling racial progress, and like these others, it stinks of fear-mongering to score votes. Using divisive politics for political gain is a bad look for Governor DeSantis and his fellow Republicans. Unfortunately, it's one commonly expected now, and it's not surprising they would choose this topic now as it will likely cause ripples in the fall, shortly before the midterm elections. Republicans have seen that discussing CRT has been an effective tool for them in other races around the nation; unfortunately, their definition of CRT means they end up targeting racial progress in the name of politics.

Tellingly, there were absolutely zero extracts, excerpts, or even descriptions of specific examples of content deemed unacceptable in the announcement from the Florida Education Department. Even the titles of the books were restricted by being omitted, making it difficult or even impossible for independent evaluation or fact-checking. Surely if these books are as offensive and damaging to children as the Republican-led Florida government says they are, Floridians should be given clear examples rather than vagaries about bogeyman topics like CRT. This is especially important as we have learned in the past how diversity in school literature is essential for the inclusion and success of all students. It is uncertain whether Florida Republicans aren't trying to whitewash school textbooks when such vital information is absent.

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