Florida Targets ‘CRT,’ Social Justice in Social Studies Books

TALLAHASSEE, Florida. – While the Florida Department of Education invites proposals from textbook companies to provide social studies materials to schools, it clarifies that clear concepts such as critical race theory and social justice do not should not be included.

The department is accepting bids from companies until June 10 to provide social studies books for a five-year period beginning in 2023. The department has posted a 29-page document on its website that lists the criteria for this which should be included in the books. – and what should be left out.

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“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 must align with the state’s “Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking” standards, which were adopted by the state in 2019. These standards came after that Governor Ron DeSantis has issued an Executive Order to eliminate remnants of “Common Core Standards”.

Companies that compete to provide social studies textbooks should “not attempt to indoctrinate or persuade students to adopt a view inconsistent with Florida standards,” the guidelines state.

Last summer, the State Board of Education approved a rule that imposes restrictions on how history can be taught in public schools, a move DeSantis touted as a way to combat critical theory. race.

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Critical race theory, which rests on the premise that racism is embedded in American institutions, has been the target of DeSantis and other Republicans across the country. 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.

“We strive to ensure that the purpose of the school system is to educate our children and not to indoctrinate our children. And that’s what parents want to see. So we’re doing more than anyone else when it comes to education at every level,” DeSantis said at a Wednesday event at Crestview.

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 or should be discriminated against or receive unfavorable treatment due to actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, sex or national origin.

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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.

The ministry lists what it calls “potential social justice components” that will not be accepted in textbook bids.

“Seeking to eliminate undeserved disadvantages for selected groups,” said one such example.

“Undeserved disadvantages are due to sheer chance of birth and are factors beyond anyone’s control, thus resulting in different groups in different conditions,” another said.

“Equal treatment under the law is not a sufficient condition for obtaining justice,” was a third potential element of social justice listed by the department.

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.

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The process of adopting the social studies material by the state is expected to continue until April 2023. It is underway after the Ministry of Education drew national attention when it rejected the textbooks for mathematics proposed for reasons such as the inclusion of critical race theory.

In an April 15 press release, the Ministry of Education reported that 41% of math textbooks in an adoption process were rejected for reasons related to critical race theory, core common and socio-emotional learning.

“The greatest number of rejected books were in grades K-5, where an alarming 71% were not properly aligned with Florida standards or included prohibited topics and unsolicited strategies” , says the press release.

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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. Math textbooks should be evaluated in terms of how effectively they help students learn mathematical concepts. Questions remain about the reasons for these rejections and whether these dismissals are really meant to score political points,” Young said.

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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,” state agriculture commissioner and gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried tweeted Wednesday.

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