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Last Friday, April 15th, Florida’s Commissioner of Education, Richard Corcoran, approved the adoption of mathematical instructional materials to be put onto the state’s list that adhered to Florida’s Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking (B.E.S.T.) standards. However, out of the 132 submitted textbooks, a whopping 54, about 41%, of them were rejected from going onto the state’s list, the highest percentage in Florida history.
A majority of the banned materials were meant for grades K-5, which made up about 71% of the total rejected textbooks. As for the reason why so many textbooks were rejected, it was either because they didn’t abide by the state’s B.E.S.T. standards or because they included topics that the state had prohibited such as Critical Race Theory (CRT), Common Core, and Social Emotional Learning (SEL). “We’re going to ensure that Florida has the highest-quality instructional materials aligned to our nationally-recognized standards,” stated Corcoran. “When it comes to education, other states continue to follow Florida’s lead as we continue to reinforce parents’ rights by focusing on providing their children with a world-class education without the fear of indoctrination or exposure to dangerous and divisive concepts in our classrooms.”
Moreover, on Monday, April 18th, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis went to an event in Jacksonville to defend the state’s decision. “We want kids to learn to think so they get the right answer,” DeSantis told reporters. DeSantis claimed that many of the proposals from the rejected publishing companies were “indoctrinating concepts like race essentialism” for elementary students.
When asked to provide an example of what a CRT math lesson could potentially look like, DeSantis only responded that “there’s a number of reasons” that those textbooks were rejected besides just that specific issue. However, DeSantis’ spokesperson Christina Pushaw did cite a piece of math homework from a public school in Missouri as an example of how CRT is being indoctrinated into schools on Twitter.
In the assignment, students were asked to solve algebra problems which also had answers that served as a fill-in-the-blank about Maya Angelou’s time as a pimp and prostitute before becoming a poet. “So instead of having a hissy fit because @GovRonDeSantis banned CRT math textbooks, ask yourself why CRT is being injected in math instruction to begin with?” wrote Pushaw. “I promise you, in China kids aren’t learning about pimping in math class.” However, many Democrats aren’t pleased with this evidence and say that this is DeSantis’ attempt to “distract and deflect.”
The 54 rejected textbooks still haven’t been named, and neither have the supposed violations against Florida’s B.E.S.T. standards nor prohibited material that’s contained in those textbooks. “#DeSantis had three days to provide basic info on the 54 math books he banned from schools for allegedly ‘indoctrinating’ kids with CRT,” wrote state Rep. Carlos G. Smith on Twitter. “The best his propaganda machine could do was deflect to a Missouri district that apologized for a homework assignment they didn’t approve.”
DeSantis stated that he would be open to possible examples of the textbooks available, however, time still has to be allowed for any of the publishers to make appeals over the rejections as the content is considered to be “proprietary information.” “I would like it to be released, but I also respect the process,” said DeSantis.
This situation is only the most recent example of DeSantis’ plan towards promoting education and parental rights in Florida. For example, in 2020, DeSantis removed the Common Core standards, a national educational initiative that states what exactly students between the ages K-12 should know in English and math at the end of every grade level, and instead replaced it with the previously mentioned B.E.S.T. standards.
In 2021, he also announced the Stop the Wrong to Our Kids and Employees (W.O.K.E.) Act, in which the teaching of CRT and corporation ‘wokeness’ would be limited, which was just passed by the Florida legislature in March of this year. “In Florida, we are taking a stand against the state-sanctioned racism that is critical race theory,” said Desantis in December of 2021.
“We won’t allow Florida tax dollars to be spent teaching kids to hate our country or to hate each other. We also have a responsibility to ensure that parents have the means to vindicate their rights when it comes to enforcing state standards.”