‘What? Me? Racist?’ Florida’s education department gives examples of math textbook concerns

South Florida Sun Sentinel | By Scott Travis | April 21, 2022

The math textbooks rejected by the state of Florida included word problems that discuss racism and practicing empathy with others, according to examples posted Thursday by the Department of Education.

The department posted examples on its website following numerous questions about why it rejected 41% of math textbooks for reasons such as the inclusion of critical race theory and social-emotional learning.

In one example, a word problem starts with, “What? Me? Racist?” and asks the student to calculate a level of racial prejudice. Another example shows a bar graph with the heading, “Measuring Racial Prejudice, by Political Affiliation.”

The Florida Department of Education says it rejected some math textbooks for including race related lessons, including this example from an unidentified textbook. (Florida Department of Education)

Another example has a social-emotional exercise that says, “Students building proficiency with social awareness as they practice with empathizing with their classmates.”

The concept of “social and emotional learning” is popular in schools and is viewed as a way to help students manage their emotions, set goals, show empathy for others and make responsible decisions. But some critics see it as another way to slip in race-based lessons.

“These examples do not represent an exhaustive list of input received by the Department,” the website says. “The Department is continuing to give publishers the opportunity to remediate all deficiencies identified during the review to ensure the broadest selection of high-quality instructional materials are available to the school districts and Florida’s students.”

The department did not say which specifically textbooks or publishers any of the passages came from.

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