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'What? Me? Racist?': Florida releases examples of 'prohibited topics' from rejected math books

The department said it had rejected 54 of the 132 math textbooks it reviewed, claiming the texts referred to critical race theory, or CRT, and other “prohibited topics.”
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Florida’s Education Department released four examples of portions of math books it rejected last Friday, saying the texts referred to critical race theory, or CRT, and other “prohibited topics.”

In a statement released last Friday, the department said it had rejected 54 of the 132 math textbooks it reviewed, or 41 percent.

The department followed up this week by saying it had received a “volume of requests ... for examples of problematic elements of the recently reviewed instructional materials.”

In response to those requests, the department published four parts of the rejected books that it deemed problematic.

One math problem shows two graphs. The title of one is “Measuring Racial Prejudice, by Age” and the title of another is “Measuring Racial Prejudice, by Political Identification.”

Florida Department of Education

Another math problem from a rejected book presents two algebra equations. The word problem begins “What? Me? Racist? More than 2 million people have tested their racial prejudice using an online version of the Implicit Association Test.” The problem asks students to solve for S, which represents the score on the Implicit Association Test.

Florida Department of Education

Another rejected book portion lists a lesson objective as: “Students build proficiency with social awareness as they practice with empathizing with classmates.” Another rejected portion mentions focusing on “students’ social and emotional learning.”

The department said last week that 28 of the books were rejected specifically because they “incorporate prohibited topics or unsolicited strategies, including CRT.” Lists of the submitted and accepted books that were made available did not say how the rejected books referred to critical race theory.

Other rejected books did not properly align with B.E.S.T. Standards — Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking, Florida’s answer to Common Core — which Gov. Ron DeSantis has worked to eliminate.

Another set of rejected books both included “prohibited topics” and did not align with B.E.S.T., the Education Department said.

“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,” DeSantis said last week.

DeSantis and Republican legislators have fought to ban critical race theory, the academic study of institutional racism, in public schools. Critical race theory is typically studied only in colleges and universities.

DeSantis on Friday signed the Stop W.O.K.E. Act (Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Act) — to limit how race is discussed in classrooms and workplaces.

He said the purpose of the law is to stop the "indoctrination" of children. "What we will not do is let people distort history to try to serve their current ideological goals," he said.

DeSantis also signed a bill last month that allows parents to decide which books could be banned from school libraries and another that limits teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade classrooms

NBC News reached out to two publishers that had more than half a dozen math books on the rejected list.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt HMH did not respond to a request for comment.

A representative for McGraw Hill LLC said: “We’re reviewing the matter and are seeking detailed feedback from the Florida Department of Education process administrators.”