Florida gov. & Dept. of Education ban math books for incorporating CRT but haven’t provided examples

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis is defending the Florida Department of Education’s decision to reject 41% of mathematics textbooks it reviewed for various reasons, including the incorporation of prohibited topics like critical race theory.

Of the 54 mathematics textbooks rejected by the Florida Department of Education 28 were rejected for incorporating, “prohibited topics or unsolicited strategies, including CRT.”

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Most of the debate over the ban concerned whether it could affect how Black history and civil rights are taught in schools.

So, we wanted to know how critical race theory could be found in a math book.

We pushed the governor for an answer, asking him what critical race theory in mathematics looks like.

“They didn’t say that was the only thing. I think there’s a number of reasons,” said DeSantis.

The governor went on to explain many of the textbooks were rejected for not aligning with state standards or containing traces of Common CORE.

He also said some of the texts included Social Emotional Learning, a controversial academic approach that incorporates emotional learning into subjects like math and science.

“Math is about getting the right answer, and we want kids to learn the things so they get the right answer. It’s not about how you feel about the problem,” said DeSantis.

However, the governor didn’t address critical race theory in math directly, so we reached out to the Department of Education and asked for some specific examples of what it found.

Instead, we were just sent a list of the 54 rejected books and a general statement regarding the process.

“This is also not the first time books have been rejected. However, it is the first time that 41% of books submitted failed to meet Florida’s lofty standards for math instruction,” said DOE communications director Cassie Palelis in an emailed statement.

We did not get specific examples of prohibited material the department found in those textbooks, however.

The governor had suggested earlier in the day that information may not be available.

“Right now, what’s in their textbooks is considered proprietary information,” said DeSantis.

State Representative Angie Nixon (D-Jacksonville) was at the governor’s press conference at UF Health Jacksonville Monday morning.

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“I’m really trying to figure out what in the world could be happening in math problems that could be considered critical race theory,” said Nixon.

She characterized the governor’s comments as essentially, “just take my word for it.”

“It is just red meat that he’s throwing to a base. Critical race theory is not taught in K-12 schools here in Florida,” said Nixon.

The governor did say the textbook publishers can appeal the DOE’s decision.

They could also potentially tweak some of their materials to come into alignment with state standards.

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