TALLAHASSEE — Amid controversy over how it rejected math books, the Florida Department of Education is seeking proposals from textbook companies to provide social studies materials while again clarifying that his definition of “critical race theory” should not be included.
The department is accepting bids from companies through June 10 to provide social studies books for five years beginning in 2023. The department has posted a 29-page document on its website outlining what should be included in the books – and what should be excluded.
“Critical race theory, social justice, culturally appropriate teaching, social and emotional learning, and any other unsolicited theories that may lead to the indoctrination of students are prohibited,” part of the document reads, citing state education standards.
The criteria emphasizes the requirement that all materials meet the state’s “Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking” standards, which were adopted by the state in 2019. These standards came after Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order to eliminate remnants of the Common Core Standards.
The department issued the same warnings to publishers of math books, but said many had ignored them.
In an April 15 press release, the DOE reported that 41% of math textbooks during the adoption process were rejected for reasons related to critical race theory, core curriculum, and learning. socio-emotional.
The news has baffled educators and angered political opponents of DeSantis, especially after state records reviewed by the Orlando Sentinel and Miami Herald showed that only three of more than 70 book reviewers found a suggestion. of CRT in mathematical texts.
On Tuesday, the department posted an update on social media indicating that 88% of math textbook submissions have now been accepted, with 12% still refused.
“Publishers are aligning their educational materials with state standards,” the department said in a graphic that accompanied the message.
The free-speech organization PEN America released a statement on Wednesday criticizing the state over the rejection of math textbooks.
Jeremy Young, senior director of the organization’s Free Expression and Education program, said the rejection “demonstrates how well ‘educational gag orders’ can be exercised against a range” of educational materials.
“The rejections come amid a multi-pronged effort to undermine faith in public education and invoke terms that have become buzzwords to justify censorship, but remain vague and ill-defined,” said Young.
Democratic candidates vying to challenge DeSantis in the November election have criticized the governor over the textbook issue.
“DeSantis bans math books, I want to expand Medicaid,” Agriculture Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried tweeted Wednesday.
Critical race theory, a college-level concept based on the premise that racism is entrenched in American institutions, has been the target of DeSantis and other Republicans across the country.
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DeSantis signed a bill last month (HB 7) that will limit how issues related to race can be taught in schools and in workplace training. This law also serves as the basis for the state’s ban on critical race theory, often referred to as CRT.
The social studies textbook guidelines cite state law and list what are described as “potential components of CRT,” such as the concept that a person “bears responsibility for, or should be discriminated against or receive unfavorable treatment because of actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, sex or national origin.
The textbook criteria also explicitly prohibit social studies material that would teach the concept of social justice.
“Social justice is closely aligned with CRT (Critical Race Theory),” the paper says.
Social-emotional learning is another concept that would be excluded from textbooks. This would include instruction incorporating “concepts of identity and identity identification”, emotional management, relationship development and social awareness.
The state adoption process for social studies materials is expected to continue through April 2023.
Florida Postal and News Service writer Leslie compiled this report.