Earlier this week, Hill Reporter (and news outlets and interested individuals across the nation) contacted the Florida Department of Education to ask about the math textbooks that the state rejected for the year. At least, we have an answer.
The Florida DOE first announced that a significant percentage of the textbooks submitted for the year were not approved to be adopted into school curriculum. The Department released a statement suggesting that the rejected books would “indoctrinate” students, and that they included banned material that might include CRT (Critical Race Theory, a college-level discipline that conservatives conflate with any material acknowledging racism in the U.S.), LGBTQ matters, or social-emotional learning.
Initially, when Hill Reporter requested further information, we received an email reiterating the same talking points already made public, and an assurance that textbook companies could appeal the decision, but no examples or descriptions of content.
However, on Thursday, the Florida DOE made contact again to update this with an explanation that they could not release the actual textbook content for copyright reasons, but that they could instead give examples of inappropriate math questions sent in by the public.
The scant few examples — four images, two of which appear to be from the same lesson — consist entirely of the following:
- One text section explaining how results from the Implicit Bias Test can be used to demonstrate adding polynomials. This section in no way actually addresses biases, racism, or discrimination, merely using the test results to supply numbers.
- One image, apparently from the same lesson, of two bar graphs showing how different groups (by age and political demographic) scored on the test. Under this, the text explains how to use a polynomial to describe the data.
- One image of text describing lesson objectives for counting to five, which mentions as an objective “build[ing[ proficiency with social awareness as they practice with empathizing with classmates.” In plain English, they’re just referring to learning to participate in classroom discussion.
- One image of text describing Social Emotional Learning within what appears to be a feature of an unnamed program. It is not clear whether this is from a math textbook.
The Florida Department of Education only describes these as examples of potentially problematic math content, without alleging that these segments were included in the rejected textbooks. The Department’s Press Secretary did, however, state in the email sent to Hill Reporter that more information would be available “if and when we can share such materials.”
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Steph Bazzle reports on social issues and religion for Hill Reporter. She focuses on stories that speak to everyone's right to practice what they believe in and receive the support of their communities and government officials. You can reach her at Steph@HillReporter.com