BY ANA CEBALLOS. HERALD/TIMES TALLAHASSEE BUREAU, APRIL 15, 2022
The Florida Department of Education on Friday said the state will not include dozens of math textbooks in a list used by school districts to buy books for classrooms because their content included references to critical race theory and other “prohibited topics” and “unsolicited strategies.” The announcement was made in a press release titled “Florida Rejects Publishers’ Attempts to Indoctrinate Students.”
It did not include the names of any of the books or provide specific examples of the content that prompted their objections. The state agency said that 54 of the 132 textbooks that publishers submitted for the state’s review were “impermissible with either Florida’s new standards or contained prohibited topics — the most in Florida’s history.” Most of the books that were not approved were for grades K-5, the statement said.
“Reasons for rejecting textbooks included references to Critical Race Theory (CRT), inclusions of Common Core, and the unsolicited addition of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in mathematics,” the press release said. The decision comes as efforts to challenge books surge in local school board meetings across the nation. In Florida, Republican lawmakers approved a new law that offers more transparency in the book selection process, casting the issue as one about parental rights.
The pushback was almost immediate. Some Democrats criticized the decision, arguing that it was part of a continued attempt to politicize education in Florida. “DeSantis has turned our classroom into political battlefields and this is just the beginning,” state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, posted on Twitter.
Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has made no secret of his plan to address social issues through textbook adoption. In a May 2021 speech at conservative Hillsdale College, Corcoran spoke of the need to get “crazy liberal stuff” out of the state’s instructional materials. “When it comes to education, other states continue to follow Florida’s lead as we continue to reinforce parents’ rights by focusing on providing their children with a world-class education without the fear of indoctrination or exposure to dangerous and divisive concepts in our classrooms,” Corcoran said in a statement on Friday.
The state has a textbook adoption cycle that rotates through subjects every six years. When buying books for their schools, districts turn to the state’s approved list to make sure they align with state standards. Next up is social studies, and many educators have predicted the effort will be more confrontational than in past years — particularly after the approval of a new law that will require schools to open to the public committee meetings where books are reviewed for purchase, and to make all materials available for public review before it is approved.
The measure, signed by DeSantis last month, will also require schools to post all the selection criteria they use in choosing books.
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