On Friday, the education commissioner of the Sunshine State announced that 41% of all math textbooks submitted had been rejected for failing to meet the state’s new standards, which include the prohibition of critical race theory.
“It appears that some publishers tried to slap a coat of paint on an old house built on the foundation of Common Core, indoctrinating concepts like race essentialism, especially, bizarrely, for elementary school students,” said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who championed passage of the “Stop WOKE Act,” which aims to limit alleged liberal concepts in school curriculum.
Many of the textbooks were rejected, according to the Florida Department of Education, because they “incorporate prohibited topics or unsolicited strategies, including CRT.” CRT is a concept that aims to understand and address racism and inequality in the United States. Its detractors argue that it politicizes race unnecessarily, particularly among young children.
Other books were turned down because they included “unsolicited Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in mathematics.” Why should our children be taught about social and emotional issues? That isn’t a life skill at all! Wait…
Surprisingly, Florida’s education commissioner rejected roughly 7 out of 10 math textbooks submitted for students in kindergarten through fifth grade. What may appear outrageous to some — banning books rarely has positive societal consequences — is a major win for DeSantis as he continues to use his position to lead a culture war against, uh, math.
When DeSantis introduced the “Stop WOKE Act” late last year, he said, “In Florida, we are taking a stand against the state-sanctioned racism that is critical race theory.” “We will not allow Florida tax dollars to be used to teach children to despise our country or one another. We also have a responsibility to make sure that parents have the resources they need to defend their rights when it comes to enforcing state regulations.” DeSantis, who is considering a presidential run in 2024, has chosen a number of high-profile cultural battles to bolster his credibility among the Republican Party’s Fox and MAGA wings.
He has been a vocal opponent of mitigation measures aimed at slowing the spread of Covid-19. (Florida was one of the last states to close during the initial outbreak in spring 2020, and one of the first to reopen following the outbreak.)
He’s been a vocal supporter of civic literacy initiatives aimed at teaching students about the dangers of socialism and communism. “You have orthodoxies being promoted, while other viewpoints are being shunned or even suppressed,” DeSantis said of the moves. “We don’t want that in Florida, you need to have a true contest of ideas, students should not be shielded from ideas and we want robust First Amendment speech on our college and university campuses.”
DeSantis has recently taken aim at Disney after the company spoke out against what critics refer to as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which seeks to prohibit young students from discussing gender and sexuality.
In terms of politics, DeSantis’ war on so-called “woke” culture is paying off. In polls of the potential Republican field for 2024, he consistently trails only former President Donald Trump. His popularity is skyrocketing.
However, the DeSantis administration’s latest move on math textbooks raises a simple but important question about the governor’s rise: how much is it costing Florida students?