Announcing the new Leon Haley Trauma Center in Jacksonville on Monday, Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis defended the rejection of math textbooks because of their inclusion of references to Critical Race Theory and Social Emotional Learning, asserting, “It’s not about how you feel about the problem or to introduce some of these other things; it’s there’s a right answer and there’s a wrong answer.”
“We got rid of Common Core, as you know,” he commented. “We have B.E.S.T. [Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking] standards, which is a better way to do a lot of things, but particularly math. One of the criticisms was parents couldn’t help their kids with their math homework. So any of the books that don’t meet the best standards are not going to be appropriate for us to use. You do have things like social and emotional learning and some of the other things that are more political in there, and our view on something like that — first of all, it doesn’t meet the standards, but second, math is about getting the right answer, and we want kids to learn to think so they get the right answer.”
“It’s not about how you feel about the problem or to introduce some of these other things; it’s there’s a right answer and there’s a wrong answer,” he continued. “And we want all our students getting the right answers. So most of the books that did not meet Florida’s standards, for whatever reason, happen to be in the early grades. As you get into the older books, most of those books did meet the standards. We’re going to focus the education on the actual strong academic performance of the students; we don’t want things like math to have some of these other concepts introduced. It’s not been proven to be effective and quite frankly, it takes our eye off the ball.”
Last Friday, the Florida Department of Education’s Commissioner of Education, Richard Corcoran, announced the approval of Florida’s initial adoption list for mathematics instructional materials aligned to Florida’s Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking (B.E.S.T.) Standards. The department,found 41 percent of the submitted textbooks were impermissible with either Florida’s new standards or contained prohibited topics – the most in Florida’s history.
The Department wrote:
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.
DeSantis commented as the statement was released, “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. 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.”