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Pointing to critical race theory, Florida rejects math textbooks

Florida is banning math textbooks with “references” to critical race theory, which raises some questions state officials haven’t answered.


Florida Republicans have been awfully busy lately. As regular readers know, Gov. Ron DeSantis and the GOP-led legislature have made it harder for Floridians to vote. And made it easier to ban books from school libraries and classrooms. And approved a new abortion ban. And created restrictions on the right to peaceably protest.

But for the Republican governor, an especially notable feather in his re-election cap was a proposal called the “Stop WOKE Act,” which state lawmakers approved in March, which was designed to ban Critical Race Theory in all Florida public schools.

By most accounts, CRT wasn’t being taught in any Florida public school district. What’s more, since state education officials banned critical race theory last summer, it’s not altogether clear why the measure was necessary anyway.

But DeSantis has a culture war to win, so such details were largely ignored, and on Friday, the public got its first look at the application of such an approach, when state officials rejected math textbooks for allegedly including “references” to the academic framework. HuffPost’s report explained:

The Florida Department of Education announced Friday it would not include 54 of the 132 ― or 41% ― of math textbooks on the state’s adopted list, citing “CRT” as one of the main reasons.... The state’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said without evidence that the math textbooks “included indoctrinating concepts like race essentialism, especially, bizarrely, for elementary school students.”

A statement from the Florida Department of Education read in part, “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.”

If you’re anything like me, this is probably the point at which you’re asking the obvious question: “How is it, exactly, that these math textbooks included ‘references’ to, among other things, an academic framework that examines the role of race and systemic discrimination in shaping institutions?”

The answer is, I haven’t the foggiest idea. As Axios’ report added, “The department described the review process as ‘transparent’ but did not name the rejected textbooks nor provide examples of passages that failed to meet the criteria.”

Evidently, Floridians are simply supposed to trust that the DeSantis administration is handling the matter responsibly and banning math textbooks for legitimate reasons.

It is, incidentally, an election year in the Sunshine State, and polling suggests the Republican incumbent, a former far-right member of Congress, is favored to win a second term.