Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has approved the state’s initial adoption list for mathematics textbooks — but only after eliminating 41% of submitted materials considered “impermissible” due to new standards, or for containing “prohibited topics.”
For grades K-12, Florida is initially not including 54 of the 132 (41%) submitted math textbooks on the state’s adopted list. The number of math books disapproved by the Florida Department of Education in the new adoption list is the most in Florida’s history, according to a news release sent out by the department.
“We’re going to ensure that Florida has the highest-quality instructional materials aligned to our nationally recognized standards,” Corcoran said in a statement. “Florida has become a national leader in education under the vision and leadership of Gov. DeSantis. When it comes to education, other states continue to follow Florida’s lead as we continue to reinforce parents’ rights by focusing on providing their children with a world-class education without the fear of indoctrination or exposure to dangerous and divisive concepts in our classrooms.”
When the FDOE reviewed the submitted materials to create the approved list, the department rejected textbooks that included references to Critical Race Theory (CRT), included Common Core or featured the unsolicited addition of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in mathematics, according to a news release from the department.
The highest number of books rejected were for grade levels K-5, where 71% of submitted materials were deemed inappropriate under Florida standards. For middle school grade levels, 6-8, 20% of materials were rejected, and for high school levels, 9-12, 35% of textbooks were disapproved of.
The department offered a breakdown of why the books were disapproved — 21%, or 28 textbooks, were not included because they “incorporate prohibited topics or unsolicited strategies, including CRT”; 9%, or 12 books, were not included because they do not properly align to B.E.S.T. Standards; and 11%, or 14 books, do not align with standards and incorporate prohibited topics.
Despite the large number of books excluded, the department ensured that every core mathematics course and grade is covered with at least one textbook.
The news of the banned textbooks comes after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill that makes it easier for parents to challenge books and instructional materials they don’t approve of. Supporters of the legislation say it gives parents more involvement in their children’s education, but opponents argue it opens the door to massive book bans. Of note, Florida has third-largest number of school book ban incidents in the country.
“It seems that some publishers attempted to slap a coat of paint on an old house built on the foundation of Common Core, and indoctrinating concepts like race essentialism, especially, bizarrely, for elementary school students,” DeSantis said in a statement. “I’m grateful that Commissioner Corcoran and his team at the Department have conducted such a thorough vetting of these textbooks to ensure they comply with the law.”
However, opponents are pushing back following the approved textbook list announcement. Orange County Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani took to Twitter to express her concern over the significant number of textbook rejections.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Florida Republican leaders are preparing to ban Algebra from high schools. They object to the subliminal use of [brackets] as an indoctrination to the concept of inclusion, they don’t like the equal sign, and they hate solving problems,” she wrote in a tweet.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Florida Republican leaders are preparing to ban Algebra from high schools. They object to the subliminal use of [brackets] as an indoctrination to the concept of inclusion, they don't like the equal sign, and they hate solving problems! 🤣
— Rep. Anna V. Eskamani 🔨 (@AnnaForFlorida) April 15, 2022
Although not included on the state’s initial adopted list, publishers have the ability to appeal any non-adoption decision. Publishers also have the ability to substitute or revise submitted bids to be included on the state’s adopted list if the substitution or revision of submitted instructional materials ultimately meets Florida’s bid specifications.