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Florida rejects 71 percent of K-5 math textbook submissions, citing concerns about critical race theory

Florida's department of education announced Friday that it had rejected 54 of the 132 math textbooks submitted for adoption by the state's public education system, claiming some of them taught critical race theory, NPR reported Monday.

According to a press release, Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran rejected 41 percent of the textbooks submitted — the most in Florida history — including 71 percent of books intended for grades kindergarten through five.

"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 press release reads.

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) banned the teaching of critical race theory in Florida schools last year after replacing the national Common Core targets in math and reading with Florida's Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking (BEST) standards the year before, per NPR. Social emotional learning is an educational practice that aims to help students develop social and emotional skills as they engage with the curriculum. One teaching blog suggests incorporating SEL into math classes by asking students, "How did today's math make you feel?"

DeSantis praised Corcoran for rejecting such a large percentage of the submitted textbooks. "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," the governor said.

On Monday, DeSantis' press secretary Christina Pushaw shared a tweet from anti-CRT activist Christopher Rufo. Rufo's screenshot shows a "K-12 Math Ethnic Studies Framework" used by Seattle public schools. The framework requires students to be able to "identify how math has been and continues to be used to oppress and marginalize people and communities of color."

"This is what we want to avoid in Florida," Pushaw wrote. "The corporate media will gaslight you by claiming CRT isn't really in math instruction, but it is."