Florida Department of Education (FDOE) leaders rejected dozens of textbooks, calling it “publishers’ attempts to indoctrinate students.”
The Education Commissioner approved the state’s initial adoption list for math teaching materials, following a review of submissions, which found 41 percent of the submitted textbooks were “impermissible.”
“Math is about getting the right answer, and we want kids to learn to think so they get the right answer,” Governor Ron DeSantis said during a press conference Monday. “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, and we want all our students getting the right answers.”
Reasons for rejecting textbooks included references to Critical Race Theory (CRT), inclusions of Common Core, and the addition of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in math.
“There are so many things that are being involved in the classroom, but are we really focusing on the subjects?” said Octavio Hernandez, a Polk County algebra teacher.
According to the FDOE, Florida is initially not including 54 of the 132, or 41 percent, submitted textbooks on the state’s adopted list, giving a full breakdown:
- 78 of 132 total submitted textbooks are being included on the state’s adopted list.
- 28 (21 percent) are not included on the adopted list because they incorporate prohibited topics or unsolicited strategies, including CRT.
- 12 (9 percent) are not included on the adopted list because they do not properly align to B.E.S.T. Standards.
- 14 (11 percent) are not included on the adopted list because they do not properly align to B.E.S.T. Standards and incorporate prohibited topics or unsolicited strategies, including CRT.
- Grades K-5: 71 percent of materials were rejected.
- Grades 6-8: 20 percent of materials were rejected.
- Grades 9-12: 35 percent of materials were rejected.
The FDOE says despite rejecting 41 percent of materials submitted, every core math course and grade is covered with at least one textbook.
“To take a math book where so simply it’s black and white," Hernandez said. "There is no content that talks about history or things of that nature, and for you to use that to try to change the standards in mathematics goes to show you to the extent to which government can use their overreach into the classroom and actually change the dynamics of what’s being taught,” said Hernandez.
The Governor’s Office told ABC Action News specific details about rejected textbooks are not available right now for two reasons:
- Until they are approved through the competitive bid process, many of these textbooks contain confidential and proprietary content.
- Publishers may appeal any non-adoption decision and substitute or revise their submitted bids to be included on the state’s adopted list, if the substitution or revision of submitted instructional materials meets the bid specifications and aligns with Florida’s B.E.S.T. standards.
Nancy Velardi, the President of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association, says she could understand if books didn’t conform with the new B.E.S.T. Standards, but says she struggles to understand what they might have found in a math book that would indoctrinate students.
“No civilization has ever benefited from banning books,” said Velardi. “It has led to much more dangerous activities, and I think that this is a dangerous road and that Florida needs to be rethinking how they want their children to be educated.”