Florida rejects 41% of submitted math books over Critical Race Theory, other issues

The Center Square
By Dan McCaleb
April 19, 2022


Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran Mark Wallheiser / AP

(The Center Square) – The Florida Department of Education is rejecting more than 40% of the mathematics textbooks submitted to be used in the upcoming school year, citing critical race theory, Common Core and other language included in them that violate the state’s new standards.

“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 department said in a news release.

After reviewing 132 submitted textbooks, the department found 54 of them – 41% – were in violation of the state’s standards.

“The highest number of books rejected were for grade levels K-5, where an alarming 71 percent were not appropriately aligned with Florida standards or included prohibited topics and unsolicited strategies,” the department said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a statement that the rejected books included language that attempts to indoctrinate students.

“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. “I’m grateful that Commissioner [Richard] Corcoran and his team at the Department have conducted such a thorough vetting of these textbooks to ensure they comply with the law.”

In 2021, the department sought bids for mathematics instructional materials to be included on the state’s adopted list.

“Florida has been clear that instructional materials must first and foremost be aligned to Florida’s new B.E.S.T. Standards,” the department announcement said. The department “proactively informed publishers in June 2021 that textbooks must align to the B.E.S.T. Standards, state laws regarding required instruction, and that they should not incorporate unsolicited strategies such as SEL in their instructional materials.”

In 2019, DeSantis signed an executive order to eliminate Common Core standards in the state. This year, he signed legislation that bans classroom curriculum that includes teaching gender identity or sexual orientation to students in grades K-3.

“Despite rejecting 41 percent of materials submitted, every core mathematics course and grade is covered with at least one textbook,” the department said.

From the department’s website:

78 of 132 total submitted textbooks are being included on the state’s adopted list.
28 (21 percent) are not included on the adopted list because they incorporate prohibited topics or unsolicited strategies, including CRT.
12 (9 percent) are not included on the adopted list because they do not properly align to B.E.S.T. Standards.
14 (11 percent) are not included on the adopted list because they do not properly align to B.E.S.T. Standards and incorporate prohibited topics or unsolicited strategies, including CRT.
Grades K-5: 71 percent of materials were rejected.
Grades 6-8: 20 percent of materials were rejected.
Grades 9-12: 35 percent of materials were rejected.

​Dan McCaleb is the executive editor of The Center Square. He welcomes your comments. Contact Dan at [email protected].

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Joseph Kayne
Joseph Kayne(@jay-kayne)
1 year ago

What this article does NOT say is the state did not release the title of books that were rejected nor provide examples of the offending language, despite calling the process “transparent.”

To suggest that any EL-HI math book promotes critical race theory suggests the governor and secretary of education have misappropriated the term. To refresh their memory:

Critical race theory is an academic concept that is more than 40 years old. The core idea is that race is a social construct, and that racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.

You know, things like slavery, Jim Crow laws, redlining, stop and frisk, treatment of different controlled substances, etc. I challenge the governor or any state official to show us where the rejected math books discuss any of the above. CRT is taught in law schools because it can be a legitimate defense issue under the constitutional principle of equal justice under the law.. NOTE: I said CAN be, not always is.

Also, Mr. Caleb does not tell you what B.E.S.T. stands for. Benchmarks for Excellence in Student Thinking. As a former professor, I always strove for excellence in learning, how a student approached questioning and discovery. I was not arrogant enough to think I knew what students should think. Excellence in Student Thinking is something you would expect to find on the entrance to a school in Russia or China, not in Florida. Maybe, before the next election, the governor would be willing to share what he considers to be “excellence in student thinking.”

Kendra A Shafer
Kendra A Shafer (@guest_64678)
1 year ago
Reply to  Joseph Kayne

Thank you Mr. Kayne and Tomes (below) for your intelligent comments. Many will just hear the meaningless key words he spouts, such as “race essentialism” and “indoctrinate” and just go along with it. So just one textbook per grade was picked? And we weren’t told which one, who publishes it, who they give money to, etc? I think everyone would like to see some examples of these textbook horrors. As a teacher myself, I have yet to come across anything like that in all thee years. Letting one man hand-pick textbooks is terrifying – he started with math but what’s next … scary time in America.

Joseph Kayne
Joseph Kayne(@jay-kayne)
1 year ago
Reply to  Joseph Kayne

You may think it strange I am replying to myself, but I notice three people did not like my comments. So, I am curious. What do they disapprove of?

Do they believe government should ban books without telling us what they are or why?
Do they not believe laws and policies like redlining, stop and frisk, different treatment of users of cocaine and crack cocaine, etc. do not constitute systemic racism?
Do they disagree that educations should focus on helping students become learners versus what they think?
Do they disagree with the actual definition and purpose of “critical race theory” versus its use as an umbrella for any discussion of the history of race in American?

Just asking!

Mark Tomes
Mark Tomes(@mtomes)
1 year ago

Mr. Kayne (see comments) is absolutely correct. Also, as a professional educator listening to Mr. DeSantis, I can say he knows very much about how to politically rile up conservative voters and absolutely nothing about teaching. His contention that learning math is only about getting the right answer assumes teachers and students are like robots: information in, information out. Students are human beings who bring their histories and values and experiences and moods into the classroom, and accounting for those are all part of the teaching experience. Teaching and learning must be made relevant to students’ lives, and that includes learning about the world in which they are growing up. One can try to teach that 2+3 = 5, but it is the story that Javier and Xi and Ahmed and Brent and Yarnell are planting vegetables in their community garden that makes it relevant and learnable.

Robert Warner
Robert Warner (@guest_64676)
1 year ago

John Dewey gave us a chance for all to learn freely in a public school system. DeSantis gives us his version of a new dark age, driven by the religious extremism that Thomas Jefferson and James Madison warned about. As if math weren’t hard enough for some, already. But it does give them an excuse to learn less math.

Sherry Harrell
Sherry Harrell(@sherry-harrell)
1 year ago

71% of the rejected books were for K-5. Why not allow our children to learn Mathematics, Science, Reading and History while their young minds can absorb these things? Leave all the indoctrination out of our schools.

Joseph Kayne
Joseph Kayne(@jay-kayne)
1 year ago
Reply to  Sherry Harrell

It’s hard to agree with you when we have no idea what you, the governor or the state education commission considers indoctrination. Proof please. That’s all we’re asking.

John Findlay
John Findlay(@jfindlay)
1 year ago

I am very skeptical about this rejection of MATH textbooks. It appears that DeSantis is simply appealing to his conservative base. The public deserves to see real examples of what the offending language in these books is, so we can judge for ourselves. I suspect that many would not find the language offensive at all. Let’s have transparency.

1 year ago

I must admit to being shocked to hear about all the text books rejected for things like teaching CRT and other topics to little kids. I was under the impression that was something that really did not occur even in high school. Also not sure what issues math books have that are a problem. I figured this has always been just an engineered republican tactic to scare and gin up their base….but hey, maybe I got it wrong. I’m with Joseph Kayne on this one. I have an open mind on the subject, lets all see what the republicans want redacted and are so afraid are poisoning their kids. Is that info out there? Where can we read the specific texts in these books that Republicans have an issue with? Lets get the facts out on this and shine a light on it. If there is genuinely a real issue I am for banning these books too. We all need to see what Desantis is talking about to make a judgement on it.

Patricia Wells
Patricia Wells (@guest_64688)
1 year ago

As someone who taught 5th grade for 21 years in the state of Florida, this latest news is very alarming. I taught math and American history. I served on numerous state committees to asses the FCAT for 5th grade math and numerous district committees for math instruction. NEVER was CRT or any other indoctrination inserted into our instruction. I am very concerned about the direction of education in our state.

Peggy Bulger
Peggy Bulger(@peggy-bulger1949gmail-com)
1 year ago

I find it ironic that DeSantis touts Florida as being “the most free state in the nation” while he bans books in all of our public schools, redraws voting districts to ensure Republicans will have total control, and threatens all those (from Disney to mask-wearing high school kids) who may disagree with his personal political agenda. This looks like the rise of Fascism to me.