Florida Education Association: rejection of math books is part of a bigger political agenda

One of Florida’s top educators is demanding transparency from Governor DeSantis’ office

One of Florida’s top educators is demanding transparency from Governor DeSantis’ office. It follows the rejection of more than 50 math textbooks alleged to contain prohibited topics like critical race theory and social emotional learning. It’s still unclear precisely what was considered unacceptable in these unpublished books, because the Education Commissioner says the publishing companies are private. The News4JAX ITEAM spoke with The Florida Education Association president Tuesday -- who feels the rejection of these math books is all part of a much bigger political agenda.

″What the governor is looking for is not what’s best for the kids, but what’s best for his political ambition, and he wants to be able to say we held the line here in the state of Florida and forced these textbook companies to make a change,” Andrew Spar said.

RESOURCES: the list of banned books | the list of approved books

Florida Education Association President Andrew Spar is questioning Governor Ron DeSantis’ motives and the rejection of more than 50 math textbooks that contained “prohibited topics” including Critical Race Theory. Educators say they can’t release the questionable content to the public because of copyright issues. The Florida Education Commissioner was asked about The Department of Education’s book approval process during a news conference in Central Florida Tuesday.

“We have reviewers and these reviewers are top notch math experts from around the state, who look at this and say, ‘this is common core, we’ve abolished that, this is other things like critical race theory,’ and once their rejected the publisher has the opportunity, has the chance to say we’ll take that out, and we’ll approve the book, and we go through that process, or they can file litigation,” Richard Corcoran, Florida Education Commissioner said.

In a news release late Friday, the Education department announced it disapproved of what it said was a record number of math textbooks -- 54 of 134 books. The books were submitted to the State of Florida through various publishers for students in Kindergarten through fifth grade.

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″Here’s what we believe will probably happen, these text books are big companies, they are powerful companies, they give a lot of political dollars to candidates on both sides of the aisle,” Spar said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they gave money to the governor and so these textbook companies have a lot of influence and I think at some point the governor is going to tell them change one line in the textbook, make one change, and we’ll consider it to have met the requirement and then we’ll approve it.”

Spar said The Florida Education Association still doesn’t know the qualifications of the group that rejected the books. What also remains unclear is how the prohibited topics were presented in a mathematic equation.

″We don’t know if it says might say a word problem for example in math, Maria is going to abuela’s house and they are going to make a recipe and use three quarters of a cup of water and one quarter of cup of oil, so how much is that total? We don’t know what the objection is because they haven’t released that,” Spar said.

The News4JAX ITEAM reached out to all the publishers today whose books were rejected for comment but haven’t received a response. Governor DeSantis said today the math books that were rejected were attempt to “indoctrinate” students.

About the Author:

Tarik anchors the 4, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. weekday newscasts and reports with the I-TEAM.