The State of Florida made waves this weekend by announcing that 54 out of a total of 132 textbooks submitted to the Department of Education for use in public schools were rejected because they were either "impermissible with either Florida's new standards or contained prohibited topics." The release noted that the 41 percent rejection rate was the highest in Florida history.
The Department stated, "Reasons for rejecting textbooks included references to Critical Race Theory (CRT), inclusions of Common Core, and the unsolicited addition of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in mathematics."
The announcement also stated that the problem was worst in materials that were submitted for grades K-5, "where an alarming 71 percent were not appropriately aligned with Florida standards or included prohibited topics and unsolicited strategies." The department noted that, although it was forced to reject so many textbooks, "every core mathematics course and grade is covered with at least one textbook."
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said in a statement, "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. 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."
The Department of Education stated that they called for bids in 2021 for publishers to submit proposed mathematics instructional materials to be included on the state's adopted list for public school curricula in compliance with Governor DeSantis's 2019 Executive Order 19-32. The bid request specifically stated that materials must align with educational standards under Florida law and must not include unsolicited strategies such as SEL.
The Department complained that, "It is unfortunate that several publishers, especially at the elementary school grade levels, have ignored this clear communication and have attempted to slip rebranded instructional materials based on Common Core Standards into Florida’s classrooms, while others have included prohibited and divisive concepts such as the tenants of CRT or other unsolicited strategies of indoctrination – despite FDOE’s prior notification."
Florida Democrats quickly condemned the move. State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith called the move "crazy right-wing pandering," and state Rep. Anna Eskamani tweeted, "I wouldn't be surprised if Florida Republican leaders are preparing to ban Algebra from high schools."