Florida rejects 41% of new math textbooks, citing critical race theory among its reasons

<p>Florida Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, right, speaks alongside Gov. Ron DeSantis at a news conference on March 17.</p>

Michael Snyder/The Northwest Florida Daily News/USA Today Network

Florida Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, right, speaks alongside Gov. Ron DeSantis at a news conference on March 17.

The Florida Department of Education announced Friday that the state has rejected more than 50 math textbooks from next school year’s curriculum, citing references to critical race theory among reasons for the rejections.

In a news release, the department stated that 54 out of 132 of the textbook submissions would not be added to the state’s adopted list because they did not adhere to Florida’s new standards or contained prohibited topics.

The release said the list of rejected books makes up approximately 41% of submissions, which is the most in Florida’s history.

Reasons for rejecting textbooks included references to critical race theory, “inclusions of Common Core, and the unsolicited addition of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in mathematics,” the release states.

Critical race theory has become politicized in recent years, with opponents arguing the area of study is based on Marxism and is a threat to the American way of life. But scholars who study it say critical race theory explores the ways in which a history of inequality and racism in the United States continues to impact American society today.

Florida banned the teaching of critical race theory in schools in June 2021. At the time, Gov. Ron DeSantis said that allowing critical race theory in schools would teach children that “the country is rotten and that our institutions are illegitimate.”

According to the ban, instruction in schools must be “factual and objective.” It specifically prohibits “theories that distort historical events” — including “the teaching of Critical Race Theory, meaning the theory that racism is not merely the product of prejudice, but that racism is embedded in American society and its legal systems in order to uphold the supremacy of white persons.”

Florida also banned teaching material from the 1619 Project, the New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning project to reframe American history around the date of August 1619, when the first slave ship arrived on America’s shores.

The highest number of books rejected were for grade levels K-5, where an “alarming” 71% were not appropriately aligned with Florida standards or included prohibited topics, the release said.

Despite rejecting 41% of materials submitted, every core mathematics course and grade is covered with at least one textbook, the release said.

In a statement, DeSantis said he is grateful for the department’s thorough vetting of these textbooks to ensure they comply with the law.

“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,” the governor said.