Talking Points

Hey Florida! We need to see the math books.

The Florida Department of Education has rejected several dozen math textbooks for use in the state's public schools for reasons, per a departmental press release, including "references to Critical Race Theory (CRT)." The books in question, said Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), were "indoctrinating" young students with "concepts like race essentialism."

Naturally, everyone on all sides is Extremely Worked Up. But what almost no one chattering about this seems to know — so far as I can tell, anyway — is what the books say.

The original press release, circulated on Friday, didn't name the titles rejected. On Monday, Florida published a list of textbooks, but it offered no detail about the disqualifying content. The most we have is tweets from DeSantis spox Christine Pushaw, who has shared images of a math worksheet from Missouri (or maybe Pennsylvania) which awkwardly splices details of Maya Angelou's biography into algebra problems as well as a "Math Ethnic Studies Framework" attributed to Seattle Public Schools. The documents appear to be at least partially authentic, and the Angelou algebra is indeed bizarre, adding no apparent benefit for math instruction while also shortchanging discussion of Angelou's life, which ought to happen in a literature class under a teacher with both more time and more suitable expertise.

But is this what was in the books Florida rejected? I don't know. And neither, it seems, do 99 percent of those discussing the rejections. Beyond the format of this one worksheet, I'm not even sure how an elementary math textbook could work in effective commentary on race at all. How do you fit that into the "two trains" problem? Where do you cram CRT into basic arithmetic? How, specifically, does the alleged indoctrination work?

Before this goes any further, we need to see the books.