After Florida education officials rejected a number of math textbooks over alleged “woke content,” including references to critical race theory, some of the books have been reinstated.
The Florida Department of Education announced Thursday that nine books were added back to an adoption list of instructional materials for math after publishers removed prohibited topics from the text.
“Publishers are aligning their instructional materials to state standards and removing woke content,” according to a statement on the department’s website.
It is also giving other publishers the chance to “remediate all deficiencies” to make sure “the broadest selection of high quality instructional materials” are available to students, it said.
The move follows an announcement from state education officials earlier this month that 54 of the 132 math textbooks on its adoption list — most of them elementary level — did not make the cut. Some of the books did not align with state content standards, called the Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking, or BEST, or they included “prohibited topics” and “unsolicited strategies,” such as critical race theory, officials said in a statement.
Other reasons for rejection included “inclusions of Common Core,” the education testing standards the state eliminated, and “the unsolicited addition of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in mathematics,” according to the 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, especially, bizarrely, for elementary school students,” Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said in the April 15 statement.
At the time, state education officials did not say which math textbooks were denied or provide examples of how they contained teachings on critical race theory, an academic concept that sets a framework for examining systemic racism and is taught largely in law schools.
Democratic lawmakers in the state have denounced the move by DeSantis and Florida Republicans. State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, a Democrat, has called the indoctrination claims a lie, tweeting that DeSantis “has turned our classrooms into political battlefields and this is just the beginning.”
“No, this is not 1963,” another Democrat, state Sen. Shevrin “Shev” Jones tweeted, “it’s 2022 in the ‘Free State of Florida.’ “
The Florida Department of Education has since offered some examples of the materials. In an image from one textbook, a lesson on polynomials begins, “What? Me? Racist?” In a separate image, two bar graphs appear to show data regarding how people scored on a test measuring racial prejudice, broken down by age and political identification.
Critical race theory is centered on the idea that racism is not simply individual prejudice but is systemic and woven into our legal systems; however, it is also connected to other intellectual ideas. Conservatives have conflated critical race theory with any teaching about systemic racism, such as including in a history lesson that government officials in the 1930s made it hard for Black people to get mortgage loans to buy homes, as well as with any diversity efforts in schools and businesses. They argue racism in America is the work of individuals and not broad laws or policies and have attempted to limit what teachers can say in classrooms about systemic racism in America’s past and present.
Conservative activists have also targeted social-emotional learning programs, aimed at helping students deal with social and emotional issues that can affect their academic performance, saying such programs are vehicles for teaching critical race theory.
In Florida, DeSantis has been working to restrict classroom discussions on topics including race, racism, gender and history. Last year, his administration set new rules banning critical race theory, and he recently signed into law House Bill 7, also known as the “Stop Woke Act,” to “give businesses, employees, children and families tools to stand up against discrimination and woke indoctrination,” according to a statement from his office.
The Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss contributed to this report.