Florida’s Department of Education released four examples from the math textbooks rejected last week because of references to “prohibited topics” such as critical race theory.
The board rejected 54 math textbooks out of 132 submitted for review — roughly 41% of the total.
One of the samples released by Florida’s education department shows two graphs titled “measuring racial prejudice by age” and “measuring racial prejudice, by political identification.”
Another sample reads: “What? Me? Racist? More than 2 million people have tested their racial prejudice using an online version of the Implicit Association Test.”
The task asks students to solve for S, which represents the score on the Implicit Association Test.
The third sample refers to students building “proficiency with social awareness as they practice with empathizing with classmates,” and the final sample refers to students’ “social and emotional learning.”
Social-emotional learning (SEL) is an educational approach that addresses children’s emotions as they learn.
The practice has become controversial among conservatives, who link it to wider debates around teaching race, gender and sexuality in classrooms.
Right-wing activist Chris Rufo told The New York Times that social-emotional learning sounds “positive and uncontroversial” in theory, but “in practice, SEL serves as a delivery mechanism for radical pedagogies such as critical race theory and gender deconstructionism.”
“The intention of SEL,” he told the paper, “is to soften children at an emotional level, reinterpret their normative behavior as an expression of ‘repression,’ ‘whiteness,’ or ‘internalized racism,’ and then rewire their behavior according to the dictates of left-wing ideology.”
SEL has been identified by many on the right as a “gateway” for critical race theory concepts, pointing to programming that emphasizes controlling emotions and maintaining thriving relationships.
Critical race theory, an academic concept or framework centered on systemic racism and its effects across American society, has become a culture war target for Republicans.
The New York Times reviewed 21 of the textbooks rejected by Florida and said there was little reference to race, let alone critical race theory.
However, the paper said that many of the textbooks do prompt students to think about their emotions while learning.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a rising star of the Republican Party, defended the state’s Department of Education’s decision to reject the textbooks on Tuesday
“There is a movement to say math should be not about getting the right answer, but more about social and emotional response,” DeSantis said at an event in The Villages, Florida.
“It doesn’t matter how you feel about the math problem,” he said. “It matters whether you can solve the math problem.”
Stephanie M. Jones, a developmental psychologist and expert on social-emotional learning at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, disagreed with DeSantis, according to The New York Times.
“Feelings arise all the time — they arise when we’re doing work at our offices, and when kids are learning things,” she told the paper. “It makes sense to try and engage those feelings or grapple with them in order to be more effective at the thing we’re doing.”
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