How Florida math textbook reviewers determine what gets rejected

Reporter: Emma Heaton Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
Student reading a textbook
FILE: Student reading a textbook.

The School District of Collier County School Board has approved eight math and English language arts textbooks that state reviewers previously objected to over topics like race and political content.

Florida released the longest list of rejected math textbooks in state history earlier this year. Some of the textbooks contained special topics like social-emotional learning and critical race theory.

“We don’t want things like math to have some of these other things introduced. It’s not been proven to be effective, and quite frankly, it takes our eye off the ball,” said Governor Ron DeSantis in April.

Weeks later, the state provided a few examples. One of the examples posted on the Florida Department of Education website says, “What me? Racist?” Another directly references social-emotional learning.

“You know, the fact of the matter is math textbooks don’t get into social-emotional learning, don’t get into other stuff that the governor has put out there that there were somehow indoctrinating our students, math textbooks talk about math. And, and so that’s the bottom line,” said Andrew Spar, the president of the Florida Education Association.

What is the background of the reviewers deciding what is appropriate and what’s not? The state provided a list of reviewer names and the questions they answered during the review process.

Spar said that’s not what matters most. “I think the question is, what was it that the committee was really looking at? And why were these textbooks rejected in the first place? Because I don’t think we still have a complete understanding as to the why, these textbooks were rejected, rejected,” said Spar.

“We’re going to continue to focus the education on the actual strong academic performance,” said DeSantis.

Some people in Collier County have objections to what is in the math textbooks.

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