Florida releases examples from banned math textbooks

Education

(The Hill) — The Florida Department of Education (DOE) on Thursday posted four pages of examples from math textbooks that have been banned from classrooms citing “prohibited topics” such as “references to Critical Race Theory (CRT), inclusions of Common Core, and the unsolicited addition of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in mathematics,” according to multiple reports.

In addition to the four pages that the Florida agency posted as examples, The New York Times was able to acquire additional pages from Florida school districts of math textbooks that were banned.

The Times notes that the Florida Education Department was not specific in its guidelines of what constitutes a violation and warrants a ban, so it cannot confirm for certain that the pages it obtained are what caused the ban.

Most of the banned books did not mention race at all, but several of them contained examples of SEL, which the Education Department seeks to block, the Times reports.

Social Emotional Learning is a concept that teaches students how to “manage their emotions, develop empathy, solve problems and make decisions,” according to the Tampa Bay Times.

“No one is saying that we shouldn’t be talking about race in classes. No one is talking about erasing history. What we’re simply saying is that we shouldn’t be using a very specific left-wing lens to frame the conversations,” podcast host Jason Rantz said during an appearance on “Rush Hour Round Table.”

Rantz said the conversation is “not actually controversial” to want only math to be taught in math class.

Author and educator Marc Lamont Hill disagreed with his statement saying, “As an education professor, I can tell you that for the last 60 years, math classes have had word problems. And word problems have always incorporated other topics. In fact, one of the major movements of the 20th century was to incorporate social studies, science, history into math class. So whenever you had a word problem, it always incorporated other factors. This isn’t some new critical-race intervention into into curriculum. That’s always been the case.”

One page from a textbook acquired by the New York Times depicts a math word problem that also shows children how to support a friend who is worried about crossing a bridge in a jungle by instilling confidence in him.

A page in a textbook shared by the Florida agency, which was on the subject of polynomials, depicts a racial implicit association test and how people score on the test on average based on racial bias. The example shows students how the math for determining the level of bias on the test is done.

While SEL was once thought of as a noncontroversial topic of instruction, some right-wing activists have rallied against the method in the state, according to the Times.

“The intention of SEL is to soften children at an emotional level, reinterpret their normative behavior as an expression of ‘repression,’ ‘whiteness,’ or ‘internalized racism,’ and then rewire their behavior according to the dictates of left-wing ideology,” said Chris Rufo, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, the Times reports.

Stephanie M. Jones, a developmental psychologist and expert on social-emotional learning at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, pushed back on that assessment to the Times.

“Feelings arise all the time — they arise when we’re doing work at our offices, and when kids are learning things,” she said. “It makes sense to try and engage those feelings or grapple with them in order to be more effective at the thing we’re doing.”

Florida Education Association President, Andrew Spar, calls it political theater.

“This whole continued chaos and confusion — this idea of attacking teachers and the materials they use — is taking it’s toll. It’s what’s driving people out of the profession,” Spar tells NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” Friday.

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