Mystery solved? Florida reveals why it rejected math books at the expense of critical race theory

Ahead of midterms and his reelection campaign, DeSantis pushed for measures limiting how race can be taught in classrooms and championed Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill, known to opponents. under the name “Don’t Say Gay”. This bill prohibits teachers from directing classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity for students in kindergarten through third grade.

DeSantis said Friday the state will follow Florida standards and praised his education department for flagging the texts and returning them to publishers to “take the nonsense out of math books.”

“Two plus two equals four,” DeSantis said at an event in Ocala. “It’s not two plus two and let’s have a wrestling session about it.”

Book reviews released Thursday illustrate that the Florida Department of Education asked its analysts a series of four questions about “special topics” that could ultimately prevent a text from being adopted for use in classrooms. statewide class.

The state’s education department specifically investigated whether the books aligned with the state’s rule banning critical race theory, and whether they included excerpts from “relevant education.” culture”, “social justice” or socio-emotional learning, which aims to teach students how to manage their emotions and develop strong relationships with their peers. The Florida School Board in 2021 passed a rule prohibiting critical race theory with The New York Times’ The 1619 Project, claiming that they are theories that “distort historical events”.

Critical Race Theory, an analytical framework developed by legal scholars, examines how race and racism have become entrenched in American law and institutions since slavery and Jim Crow.

In one example that caught the state’s attention, a reviewer noted that a high school statistics book included lessons about race that might violate the rule.

They pointed to pages dealing with ‘racial profiling in the police’ and ‘discrimination in magnet school admission’, as well as an instance in which the book mentioned there were ‘too many’ police officers whites in the NYPD versus the racial makeup of the community. .

This manual, published by Pearson, was one of dozens the state waived. Another Pearson book covering pre-calculus honors was written for a section that asked students what algebra can help say about “racial bias.”

Florida initially rejected 54 of 132 proposed math textbooks, or about 41%, submitted by publishers, the bulk of which were offered for kindergarten through fifth grade. Some 28 of the math textbooks — or 21% — were excluded from the adoption list due to “banned subjects,” including critical race theory, according to the state education department.

This decision initially left Florida schools with only one manual option for K-5 Standard Math. But the state has since adopted additional publishers after tweaking their proposals.

To that end, two publishers seeking to provide K-5 math books have been flagged by reviewers for tackling lessons on social-emotional learning, according to the documents.

A sophomore book by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt was penalized for aligning with state standards because “attempts at multicultural teaching” were evident in its text. The example given was “types of housing for different groups of people”.

Similarly, a McGraw Hill LLC book for fifth graders was rated “very poor” for its social-emotional learning lessons. The reviewer noted that one question “asks students to think about social and emotional learning skills, including relationship skills and social awareness.”

Another book on Florida’s “not recommended” list, a math text for liberal arts colleges, was allegedly “biased” about climate change and pointed out that “racism is entrenched in American society based on the age,” according to one reviewer.

This book, a Pearson publication for high school students, contained exercises based on “an argument” between former Vice President Al Gore and conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh in which the reviewer wrote, “You can say that the author favors Al Gore and dislikes Rush Limbaugh based on questions.

This book includes a bar chart “measuring racial bias, by age,” an example previously cited by the FLDOE.

“Based solely on elements of critical race theory, this book should not be considered for adoption,” according to the reviewer, who also criticized the author for “talking about a climate crisis as if it were a proven fact”.

Textbook publishers, including McGraw Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, said they were appealing the state’s decision against adopting the books.

About Joey J. Hott

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