Florida's Department of Education (DOE) rejected 41% of mathematics textbooks submitted for use in the state's public schools Friday, citing critical race theory and other issues with the texts.
Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has led a push to reform education standards and practices in the state. Florida called for textbook submissions from publishers in 2021 in accordance with a 2019 executive order from DeSantis aimed at eliminating Common Core standards in the state. The textbooks rejected "were impermissible with either Florida’s new standards or contained prohibited topics."
The 41% rejection rate was the highest in Florida's history.
"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 in a statement accompanying the announcement. "I’m grateful that Commissioner Corcoran and his team at the Department have conducted such a thorough vetting of these textbooks to ensure they comply with the law."
The DOE clarified that each core mathematics course and grade is covered by at least one approved textbook.
"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 DOE said in the announcement.
"Reasons for rejecting textbooks included references to Critical Race Theory (CRT), inclusions of Common Core, and the unsolicited addition of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in mathematics."
The DOE also noted that publishers can appeal their rejections.
The move comes weeks after DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education Act, which prevents educators from teaching about gender identity or sexual orientation to kids between kindergarten and third grade.