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Florida rejects 54 math books, saying some contain critical race theory

The state Education Department said 28 of the books were rejected specifically because they “incorporate prohibited topics ... including CRT.”

Florida's Education Department rejected 54 math books last week, claiming some of the texts referred to critical race theory, or CRT, and other "prohibited topics."

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

"The highest number of books rejected were for grade levels K-5, where an alarming 71 percent were not appropriately aligned with Florida standards or included prohibited topics and unsolicited strategies," the statement said.

The department said 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.

Rep. Carlos G. Smith, a Democrat, said the claim that math books could indoctrinate students was "a lie."

DeSantis "has turned our classrooms into political battlefields, and this is just the beginning," Smith said.

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.

Legislators passed a bill last month to limit how teachers discuss race in classrooms.

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.