The Florida Department of Education announced on Friday that after a recent review, 41% of proposed K-12 mathematics books intended for use during the 2022-2023 public school year did not meet state academic standards due to their apparent inclusion of Critical Race Theory principles and other controversial approaches to education.
“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,” Florida’s Department of Education said in a statement.
“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,” Florida’s D.O.E. added.
“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 Governor Ron DeSantis (R) said in a statement.
In January 2020, The Daily Wire reported that “DeSantis announced new academic standards for the state, shoving out the Common Core standards that had been implemented in the state in 2010, just one year after he started pushing for jettisoning those standards.”
The new standards were titled, “Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking,” or “B.E.S.T.” According to the press release sent out Friday, Florida’s government had been straightforward in the instructions given to textbook publishers during the 2021 submittal process for the 2022-2023 school year, the first year “B.E.S.T” would be put into place:
In fact, FDOE proactively informed publishers in June 2021 that textbooks must align to the B.E.S.T. Standards, state laws regarding required instruction, and that they should not incorporate unsolicited strategies such as SEL in their instructional materials.
“We’re going to ensure that Florida has the highest-quality instructional materials aligned to our nationally-recognized standards,” Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran said in a statement.
“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,” Corcoran added.
DeSantis has long been an opponent of Critical Race Theory in classes. In June 2021, the governor called it “poison,” while adding that Florida was “happy to have banned it.”
While SEL has been around for decades, in recent years, many believe it has transformed into a vehicle for pushing many of the same principles of Critical Race Theory, such as the concept of equity, privilege, and systemic racism.
According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social Emotional Learning, equity goes hand-in-hand with SEL:
While SEL alone will not solve longstanding and deep-seated inequities in the education system, it can help schools promote understanding, examine biases, reflect on and address the impact of racism, build cross-cultural relationships, and cultivate adult and student practices that close opportunity gaps and create a more inclusive school community. In doing so, schools can promote high-quality educational opportunities and outcomes for all students, irrespective of race, socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation, and other differences.
All of those principles, if included in Florida curriculums, could potentially run afoul of several Florida laws designed to protect students from those kinds of concepts that could potentially be viewed as progressive indoctrination as outlined under Flordia’s B.E.S.T. standards.
In total, 54 books out of 132 proposed books were rejected for K-12 classes. Publishers do have an option to appeal the state’s decision.
“I’m grateful that Commissioner Corcoran and his team at the Department have conducted such a thorough vetting of these textbooks to ensure they comply with the law,” DeSantis added in a press release.