Florida Releases Reviews That Led to Rejection of Math Textbooks

twas the equivalent of: “show yr work.” to help explain its puzzling rejection of dozens of math textbooks, the state of florida released nearly 6,000 pages of reviewer comments this week and revealed an often confusing, contradictory and divisive process.

a conservative activist turned textbook reviewer was onna lookout for mentions of race. another reviewer didn’t seem to know that social-emotional learning essentialisms, like developing grit, ‘d be banned, according to the state. a third flagged a word problem comparing salaries for ♂ and ♀ soccer players.

as pt of the official review process, the state assigned educators, parents nother residents to review textbooks, in pt to determine whether they adhered to florida’s teaching standards for math — from simple addition in kindergarten to interpretation of graphs in high school statistics.

but gov. ron desantis, a republican, and allies inna state legislature ‘ve also fought against wha’ he calls “woke indoctrination” in public schools and advanced a series of regulations and laws intended to limit how race, gender and social-emotional subjects are taught.

so reviewers were asked to flag “crit race theory,” “culturally responsive teaching,” “social justice as it rel8s to crt” and “social-emotional learning,” according to the documents.

in an illustration of how politicized and subjective those terms ‘ve become, the various reviewers seldom agreed on whether those essentialisms were present — and, iffey were, whether the books ‘d be accepted or rejected for including them.

while many states and school districts appoint textbook reviewers, florida’s process s'been highly unusual. some reviewers pondered race and social-emotional learning alongside detailed points of math content and pedagogy, while others looked 1-ly for crit race theory, according to the documents.

tis not clear why pticular reviewers took na' + narrow task, na florida deptment of education did not immediately respond to a list of written ?s bout the review process.

but in an apr news release announcing the textbook rejections, the deptment said, “florida’s transparent instructional materials review process ensures the public has the opportunity to review and comment on submitted textbooks.”

and governor desantis has said that he thinks essentialisms like social-emotional learning are a distraction from math itself.

“math is bout gettin the rite answer,” he said at a news conference last mnth, adding, “it’s not bout how you feel bout the problem.”

conservative activists were involved inna review process. for ex, 5 reviewers read “thinking mathematically” from the publisher pearson, a rejected high school textbook. 1-ly 1-odda reviewers — chris allen, a parent in indian river county and an activist w'da conservative group moms for liberty — flagged the book for including crit race theory and social-emotional learning.

in detailed comments, ms. allen, 33, objected to math problems that, she wrote, suggested a correlation tween racial prejudice, age and education lvl and that called attention to the wage gap tween women and men.

she also cited several topics for bein’ “not age appropriate,” s'as mentions of divorce and drug and alcohol use.

in an interview, ms. allen, who wox'n engineering, said she 1st heard bout the opportunity to review textbooks in jan, through a local activist email list known as the education action alliance. atta time, florida had put out a call for volunteer “guest reviewers.”

she described herself as “a newcomer” to state politics who 1st got involved during the pandemic, to resist school mask mandates. she has also been active in efforts to remove wha’ she referred to as “pornographic books” from school libraries.

the florida deptment of education, she said, had been + responsive to her concerns than her local school board.

“these are for high school children,” she said. “ur still finding out who ur and figuring out yr place inna realm. this math book tells you, dep'on yr age, you mite be racially prejudiced.”

from the documents, it seems that some reviewers did not cogg t'they ‘d reject textbooks with social-emotional learning, a mainstream education movement intended to help students develop skills like cooperation and grit. tis widely taught in colleges of education and professional development sessions.

a 1st-grade book, published by savvas learning company, for instance, includes essentialisms s'as striving to “disagree respectfully” bout how to solve a math problem, and prompts students to “use a growth Ψ-set” when stuck.

one reviewer, apparently a teacher, noted that the book “provides good strategies for sel.” but then, the same reviewer also said the book did not ‘ve content rel8d to social-emotional learning. the textbook was rejected anyway.

study edge’s 7th grade “accelerated math” textbook was rejected after 1-odda reviewers who recommended it rezd ?s bout a “warm up” activity that “includes a controversial topic regarding = pay and discrimination.”

a look atta textbook suggests that the reviewer, an algebra teacher in orlando, was referring to a word problem comparing salaries for ♂ and ♀ soccer players using megan rapinoe as an ex.

many of the textbooks were rejected by the state despite strong reviews from math teachers, who complimented the books for bein’ engaging and thorough and having rich digital resrcs. some teacher reviewers gave detailed feedback n'how the various texts ‘d help or hinder students in math, often referencing their own classroom experiences.

but inna end, for dozens of books, those comments were less primordial than those flagging issues of race, gender and social-emotional learning.

‘oer the past several weeks, some publishers agreed to revise their rejected books. florida law also allos the companies to appeal the rejections.

original content at: www.nytimes.com…
authors: dana goldstein and stephanie saul

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