Florida is now picking its social studies textbooks, but how does the process work?

ORLANDO, Fla. — Some parents may not know that the state is in the process of selecting new social studies textbooks for students.


It comes just a few months after a battle over math books.

As investigative reporter Daralene Jones reports, the decision over which social studies books go into classrooms has the potential to get heated.

School districts are watching the process closely. Channel 9 is showing how the process works from beginning to end.

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Outgoing education commissioner Richard Corcoran defended the state’s decision to reject a record 41% of math books submitted by publishers, telling the public they didn’t align with standards or included prohibited topics such as social emotional learning and critical race theory.

“These reviewers are top-notch,” Corocran said.

Now, the work starts to replace social studies books based on a shortlist.

See the shortlist below:

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“We’re really in a wait-and-see,” said Robert Milholland with Volusia County Schools. “We have access to the shortlist and we’ll be calling those publishers to release their samples to us.”

Districts review those samples alongside classroom teachers and supervisors. Public input is gathered, and the state also solicits reviewers from across the state to make sure the books align with standards.

Dr. Robert Bailey said he has concerns as a former reviewer.

WATCH: What is ‘critical race theory?’

“Will students be provided with a watered-down version of history? I think from new teachers they will., Because they may be fearful.”

Immediately after the state solicited bids, the Department of Education sent a memo warning publishers to eliminate material related to Critical Race Theory, social justice, culturally responsive teaching, social and emotional learning and any other unsolicited theories that may lead to student indoctrination.

Read the memo below:

“It becomes harder because, what is critical race theory? What is social emotional learning? It’s kind of this big umbrella, and now what I used to do, without calling it critical race theory, a teacher may be concerned — ‘I don’t see this as critical race theory, but maybe the state does.’”

Tiffany Justice is the co-founder of Moms for Liberty, a group that started in Brevard County, drawing crowds at school board member meetings to fight mask mandates and quarantine rules during the height of COVID-19 outbreaks.

READ: Florida’s rejected textbooks: How prevalent was Critical Race Theory, social and emotional learning?

Now, the group has spread to more than 30 states and is focused on pushing back against critical race theory and social and emotional learning.

“These are our children, and we raise our children,” Justice said. “We don’t need the school district to raise our children. What we do need is for them to teach them to read.”

Once publishers make it through the review process, three state reviewers recommend a final list to the education commission for approval.

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That job now belongs to former state senator Manny Diaz, who sponsored the Stop Woke Act, which in part prohibits critical race theory and social and emotional learning. Diaz declined to comment.

The education secretary said it would be inappropriate to discuss the review process while it’s underway.

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Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.