FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — After a nearly week-long delay, the Florida Department of Education has released two examples it says confirm its rejection of dozens of math textbooks because they contained questions and exercises based on the common core or critical theory of race. , problems that opponents say are not real problems.
The state hasn’t identified which textbooks the examples came from, but one appears to be from an advanced high school algebra or statistics textbook and begins with the phrase “What?” Me? Racist?” Students work with data reported by an online test that researchers say reveals hidden attitudes toward different races.
The other appears to be from a teacher’s guide to a kindergarten or first grade textbook. The lesson is titled “Social and Emotional Learning – Creating Agency for Students”; students work together putting the numbers 1 through 5 in the correct order so they can “gain mastery of social awareness by practicing empathizing with their classmates.”
The state rejected more than 50 math textbooks, or about 40 percent of those submitted. Despite the state’s disapproval, under Florida law individual districts can still purchase the texts if at least half of their book spending is on approved material.
“It seems that some editors have tried to apply a coat of paint to an old house built on common core foundations and indoctrinate concepts such as racial essentialism, especially, oddly, for elementary school students” , Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a statement. when the rejections were announced late last week. The examples were released on Thursday.
Florida Democratic Party Chairman Manny Diaz, a former mayor of Miami, said in a statement that Florida has long had a system for choosing appropriate books, but it was being politicized by the DeSantis administration.
“What politicians in Florida are trying to do now is ignore the judgment of professionals and impose their own political views (behind closed doors) on every parent and child in Florida,” he said. .
The Common Core Standards are benchmarks adopted by more than 40 states to describe what students should know after completing each grade. The standards were developed by the National Governors Association, but became a frequent target of Republicans after the Obama administration pushed states to adopt them.
Opponents argue that the common core includes an inappropriate curriculum that is imposed on states. Florida adopted Common Core in the 2000s under Republican Governor Jeb Bush, who was a strong supporter. But it dropped Common Core in 2020 under DeSantis, who said it was replaced by “Common Sense.”
Critical race theory centers on the idea that racism is systemic in American institutions and that they function to maintain white dominance in society. There is little or no evidence that critical race theory is taught to public school students from K-12, although some key ideas, such as the lingering consequences of slavery, have been taught. .
DeSantis signed a bill Friday that prohibits instructions that make members of a race feel guilty for past actions of people of that same race, and prohibits teaching that meritocracy is racist. It also expands the language on requiring teaching about the history of slavery and racial oppression.
The state Department of Education said the math examples released Thursday are not an exhaustive list of issues it says were flagged in the parent-rejected texts. If publishers want to reapply for approval, they have two weeks to resubmit their books without the content the state deemed problematic.
The racism-centric high school example is based on data published by Implicit Bias Test, a set of online surveys whose organizers say uncover hidden attitudes on a variety of topics. It is operated by Project Implicit, which was founded in 1998 by professors from three institutions: Harvard University, University of Virginia, and University of Washington.
The rejected textbook does not ask students to take the implicit bias test, but the surveys are readily available online. During the run test, participants see a series of photos of white and black faces mixed with positive and negative words such as “happy” or “sad.” In a trick, participants are asked to press as quickly as possible the same letter when presented with a white face or a positive word and another letter when presented with a black face or a negative word.
On the next round, the mix is reversed – users press the same key when presented with a white face or negative word and the other when presented with a black face or positive word. There are more rounds where the keys are still reversed. By using precision and speed, organizers believe they can uncover a person’s hidden bias towards a particular race, if one exists.
In the example released by the state, students are asked to work with data from the Implicit Project which indicates that young and old are more racially biased than middle-aged and conservatives are more biased. racial than liberals.
“If you want to teach your child waking math, where ‘2+2=4’ is white supremacy, you’re free to buy any CRT math textbook you want. You just can’t force it. Florida taxpayers to subsidize this indoctrination,” the governor’s press secretary, Christina Pushaw, tweeted.
But Democratic Party Chairman Diaz, a son of Cuban refugees, said Republicans were trying to bend the facts to their own narrative.
“To maintain or advance their power, they must control our lives and what we think. My parents did not escape communism to support their children in another authoritarian government, plain and simple,” he said.