Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Florida rejects social studies topics about communism, social justice

Florida rejects social studies topics about communism, social justice

Florida initially rejected 81 percent of new K-12 social studies instructional materials publishers submitted to be included on the state’s adoption list for K-12 teachers to use in their classrooms, the administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced Tuesday. Officials worked with some publishers to make changes and wound up rejecting only 35 percent.

Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. released the approved list of materials that are aligned to state social studies curriculum standards for every grade. A statement from the Education Department said that 66 of the 101 submitted materials have been approved to date but that initially only 19 made the cut. The department said it had spent the past month working with publishers to change what it called “inaccurate material, errors and other information that was not aligned with Florida law.”

The move is the latest move by DeSantis and the state legislature to limit what students can learn and teachers can teach about high-profile topics. Last month, they expanded an existing ban on the teaching of gender identity and sexuality in kindergarten through third grade to include all grades in K-12 public schools. A different law restricts what teachers can say about race and racism in the United States in what state officials said was in part an effort to ensure that students don’t feel guilt about their race because of historical events. Last year, the administration rejected 41 percent of math textbooks submitted by publishers in part because they “contained prohibited subjects,” including critical race theory.

In a statement, Diaz said that material used in the classroom should “focus on historical facts and are free from inaccuracies or ideological rhetoric.” Critics say the DeSantis administration is trying to suppress difficult truths about America’s past and present.

The department offered four examples of changes to social studies instructional materials but did not say which submissions they came from:

  • Removing a passage about the Hebrew Bible that listed “What social justices issues are included in the Hebrew Bible,” and replacing the words “social justices issues” with the words “some of the key principles.”
  • Removing a paragraph that told parents they can talk to their child about the U.S. national anthem and explain why some people “take a knee” to protest police brutality.
  • Removing a reference to socialist economies that said they may provide “greater equality while still providing a fully functioning government supervised economy” and replacing it with language that says socialist economies have “slow development” and “fewer technological advances.”
  • Removing language that said “as for a true communist economy, there are none in the world today.”

In April 2022, the state rejected math textbooks because it said that some were not aligned with Florida’s content standards and others had subject matter rendered unacceptable by the DeSantis administration, including references to “Critical Race Theory (CRT), inclusions of Common Core, and the unsolicited addition of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in mathematics.” Critical race theory is an academic concept centered around the idea that racism is not simply individual prejudice but is systemic, woven into our legal systems. Although critical race theory is not being directly taught in K-12 schools — only used as a foundation for lessons — Florida’s focus on it has been controversial. Critics say that students should have a broad understanding of racism in the United States.

Here are some examples given by the department of materials that were rejected:

Concern: Not age appropriate.

Concern: Inaccurate description of socialism

Concern: Politically charged language when referencing the Hebrew Bible

Concern: Implies that real communism does not exist and paints an inaccurate picture of communism

Here’s the list of social studies instructional materials not approved for use:

And here’s the approved list of submitted social studies instructional materials:

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