An interesting drama is unfolding in Florida, where books have become a hot topic.
Dozens of math textbooks were rejected by the Florida Department of Education after officials said their publishers were attempting to indoctrinate students.
According to an FDOE news release Friday, the department did not initially include 54 of the 132 submitted textbooks on the state’s adopted list.
The department states 41% of the submitted textbooks included references to critical race theory, common core and social emotional learning. The state said grades K-5 had the most materials rejected.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a statement, “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, bizarrely, for elementary students. 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.”
State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-District 49, said in a tweet that the governor “has turned our classrooms into political battlefields.”
Orange County Classroom Teachers Association President Wendy Doromal said she was baffled after learning about the rejected textbooks.
“I’d really love to see some of these rejected books and see what they highlighted and found disturbing in those books,” Doromal said. “Certainly in a math book, I can’t imagine what he’s talking about.”
According to the department, textbooks are reviewed by subject every five years and the materials must meet Florida’s Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking (B.E.S.T.) Standards. The next subject up for review is social studies. The state is already accepting bids from publishers.
This comes as PEN America, an advocacy group for writing professionals, found Florida is third in the nation for the most incidents of school book ban incidents.
The Osceola County school district is currently reviewing four books that were recently banned in other districts. The superintendent also announced a new system that allows parents to decide how much access their students have to books in the library.
The governor’s spokesperson Christina Pushaw gave a statement to News 6 regarding the textbooks that were rejected.
“The governor’s position is that all instructional materials used in Florida schools need to be aligned with state standards (BEST). This is not only a matter of ensuring that textbooks are free of critical race theory ideology, but also ending common core, which is a whole separate issue from CRT. Common core is used in some math textbooks, and those would not be aligned to Florida’s BEST standards,” Pushaw said.
News 6 has reached out to FDOE to learn which textbooks were rejected, and why.