On Tuesday, Florida education officials rejected nearly 35% of social studies textbooks submitted by publishers for approval, including those that referenced social justice and “other information that was not aligned with Florida Law.”
Regarding K-12 social studies instructional materials, 66 of the 101 submitted materials were approved and met state standards for every grade level. However, when the submitted materials were initially reviewed, only 19 out of the 101 were approved due to “inaccurate material, errors and other information that was not aligned with Florida Law.” In order to approve more of the textbooks, the department said it worked with publishers who “have updated their materials to comply with Florida’s rigorous standards.”
Several of those changes, which were disclosed on the department’s website, had to do with political and social justice issues.
Some examples included are:
- Removing a paragraph that references how parents should talk with their children about the National Anthem and explaining “Taking a Knee” to protest police brutality for grades K-5.
- Removing a section about social justice and the Black Lives Matter movement for grades 6-8.
- Changing “social justice issues” to “key principles” when discussing what is in the Hebrew Bible for grades 6-8.
- Changing a reference to “socialist economy” that said, “They may promote greater equality while still providing a fully functioning government supervised economy,” to “planned economies” that have “slow development and fewer technological advances because they move slowly around planning and approval, while limiting human incentive” for grades 6-8.
Many of the reasons for rejecting such materials included concerns that the references had “politically charged language when referencing the Hebrew Bible,” “unsolicited topics,” or were “not age appropriate.”
In one case, references to the killing of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement were also removed. Descriptions of socialism and communism were also changed, and some materials that were rejected included books on U.S. history, the Holocaust, psychology and more.
This move by the Florida Department of Education comes as Republican lawmakers, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, continue to make a widespread effort to restrict how racism and history are taught in schools.
“To uphold our exceptional standards, we must ensure our students and teachers have the highest quality materials available – materials that focus on historical facts and are free from inaccuracies or ideological rhetoric,” Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. said in a statement Tuesday.
This is not the first time the administration of DeSantis has intervened on matters of curriculum in K-12 education. As a matter of fact, state education officials rejected 54 mathematics textbooks last year, claiming that some of them included topics such as critical race theory or otherwise did not meet state standards.
Earlier this year, DeSantis also rejected a new Advanced Placement African American Studies course, due to the class having a “political agenda.” The final curriculum of the course was changed from a previous version, but the College Board stated that it was not because of Florida’s objections. In April, the College Board said that it will continue to make further changes to the course after listening to the “diversity of voices within the field.”