While Twitter’s chock full of talk about Florida banning books that include “critical race theory (CRT),” there’s even more weirdness going on.
Some background: Florida’s Department of Education rejected 54 math books because, they claim, the books teach CRT, social-emotional learning (SEL), and illegal-in-Florida Common Core standards to Sunshine State children.
In a statement, the state department of education 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 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.
We will NOT tell you what the books said, but trust us, it’s bad.
Note that the statement does not name the books the department banned, nor does it offer examples of what the offending passages said. This means outside experts cannot assess the necessity of the rejections and Florida families cannot decide for themselves what is and is not “indoctrination.”
So when you hear the following from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, approach his and his allies’ motivations with skepticism.
“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 in the statement.
Reporters Found Some Examples
The New York Times obtained some information about what the books included:
In one text, cartoon animals help build one another’s confidence in order to cross a wobbly bridge. In another, a cartoon dog movie star says she feels lonely, and other animals offer to befriend her.
If this is what DeSantis and his allies are worried about, they will have a fit over the “word problems” that have been taught in American math classes since long before I was born. It’s just about using storytelling to make math more interesting for students. That’s it. It’s not some vast conspiracy to harm your kids.
Other Reasons for Rejections
According to NPR, 28 of the 54 rejected books featured CRT, SEL, or similar bogeyman words that Florida Republicans have targeted in their education policies since DeSantis took office in 2019. Other books were rejected for including Common Core math standards, something DeSantis banned via a 2019 executive order.
There were indeed other reasons for rejections. Some of them even sound like they are actually based on whether or not they’ll teach children math.
“14 (11%) were ‘not included on the adopted list because they do not properly align to B.E.S.T. Standards,’” Axios reported.
If only 11% of these books were rejected because they teach math poorly, something’s fishy.
Rob Samuelson is a Staff Writer at Education Post and Digital Media Manager for the brightbeam network.