Several Central Florida school districts may have to choose new math books for next year

ORLANDO, Fla. — The state of Florida rejected a record number of math books submitted for consideration, with claims they don’t meet state standards or contain prohibited information, including references to critical race theory.

The decision means school districts may have to reconsider which math books to use next school year.

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Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake and Brevard county school districts said they already planned to buy books that are now on the rejected list.

This is because the state sent out a preliminary list of books under consideration months ago, and districts spent time getting input from parents and teachers to select books they thought would be approved.

In some grades, districts have no choice in which book to buy because there’s only one approved for some grade levels.

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“Florida Rejects Publishers’ Attempts to Indoctrinate Students” was the headline on the news release that the state department of education sent out late on Friday.

Curriculum experts told Channel 9 they didn’t know how to respond to the ruling, so we tracked down Dr. Melissa Gallagher, who teaches math curriculum and instruction at the University of Houston.

“My first question when I saw that is, was that really the factor or primary determining factor in deciding whether to include or exclude a book from their process? I have an inclination that it was probably a lot more about the Common Core than it was about CRT,” she said.

READ: Florida DOE rejects 54 math textbooks citing references to critical race theory

Channel 9 reached out to the Department of Education twice on Monday trying to get examples of the math problems that could “indoctrinate students,” but they haven’t responded.

Here’s what we do know:

  • 78 of the 132 submitted books were approved.
  • The state said 32% of those rejected incorporated prohibited topics or unsolicited strategies like social and emotional learning, critical race theory, and in some cases didn’t align to state standards.
  • 9% simply didn’t meet state standards.
  • A majority of the rejected books were intended for elementary school students.

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The state solicited reviewers for the selection process last year.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said the department can’t release sample questions because it’s considered proprietary information, but he had this to add about why the state rejected the books:

“It’s not about how you feel about the problem or to introduce some of these other things. There’s a right answer and a wrong answer and we want all of our students to get the right answers,” he said.

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Only one publisher would comment on the state’s decision and said they haven’t been told by the state why their book was rejected, but they plan to appeal.

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.