Actions

Florida education officials can't release examples of rejected math textbooks

28 submitted textbooks contained prohibited topics like critical race theory, state says
Classroom at Roosevelt Elementary School in West Palm Beach.jpg
Posted at 2:39 PM, Apr 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-20 11:53:26-04

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. — WPTV learned more Tuesday about what led the Florida Department of Education to reject 41% of submitted math textbooks for next school year.

The adoption is required as Florida moves away from Common Core and to the new B.E.S.T. Standards.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Education

The new math standards take effect in the fall, so a team of reviewers from around the state combed through more than 130 submitted textbooks for next year.

The reviewers threw out 54 of them, citing references to Common Core — which are the old educational standards — but also references to critical race theory and social emotional learning.

The Florida Department of Education said 28 of the books incorporated prohibited topics including critical race theory, 12 did not align with the new B.E.S.T. Standards, and 14 books contained both.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran claim these publishers are trying to indoctrinate students. But when asked Tuesday to provide examples of the questionable material, DeSantis said he could not because the information is copyrighted.

The Republican-controlled state Legislature has banned the teaching of anything that resembles critical race theory, an academic framework centered on the idea that racism is systemic and not just demonstrated by individuals.

That legislation passed in March is awaiting DeSantis' signature.

"If they let you release it, release it. We obviously want people to see that, but it's not done by me or Richard," DeSantis said during a news conference in The Villages. "These are people who are applying Florida standards. It's sad we are even in the situation to have to do this, but the fact of the matter is some of these textbooks companies, this education establishment, it's gotten increasingly politicized and they are trying to do ideology and that's just not want education is about."

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference in The Villages on April 19, 2022.jpg
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference in The Villages on April 19, 2022.

The publishing companies can appeal the decision or modify the information in the textbooks to get onto the approved list.

WPTV spoke to St. Lucie Public Schools leaders Tuesday who said the district is still in the middle of its meticulous adoption process, which involves its own review committee and public comment opportunities.

The district recommended a book that is not yet on the state's list for all grade levels, so it is waiting to see what happens with the appeals process.

"We strive to try to use the state adopted list as much as possible because we like that it has been vetted by another level," said Dr. Helen Wild, the chief academic officer for St. Lucie Public Schools. "We are not required to do that, but we do tend to stick to the state adopted list when it comes to those core subject areas."

Wild said a delay in the state adopted list could lead to delays at the district level.

To see a full list of the approved textbooks, click here. To see a list of the rejected ones, click here.

For more information about the state's review process for instructional materials, click here.