Florida rejects social studies topics on communism social justice

Florida initially rejected 81 percent of new publishers of K-12 social studies materials submitted for inclusion on the K-12 Adoption List for K-12 teachers to use in their classrooms, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration announced (R) on Tuesday. Officials worked with some publishers to make changes and ended up rejecting only 35 percent.

Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. released the approved list of materials that are aligned with state social studies curriculum standards for each grade level. A statement from the Ministry of Education said 66 of the 101 submissions had been approved so far, but only 19 had initially been cut. The department said it has spent the past month working with the publishers to change what it called “inaccurate material, errors and other information inconsistent with Florida law.”

The move is the latest move by DeSantis and the state legislature to limit what students can learn and teachers can teach about important topics. Last month, they expanded an existing ban on teaching gender identity and sexuality in kindergarten through third grade to include all K-12 public school grades. Another law limits what teachers can say about race and racism in the United States, which state officials say is in part an attempt to make sure students don’t feel guilty about their race because of historical events. Last year, the administration rejected 41 percent of math textbooks submitted by publishers, in part because they “contained prohibited topics,” including critical race theory.

In a statement, Diaz said materials used in the classroom should “focus on historical facts and be free of inaccuracies or ideological rhetoric.” Critics say the DeSantis administration is trying to suppress hard truths about America’s past and present.

The department offered four examples of changes to social studies teaching materials, but did not say which submissions they came from:

  • Removing a passage about the Hebrew Bible that lists “What social justice issues are included in the Hebrew Bible” and replacing the words “social justice issues” with the words “some of the key principles.”
  • Removing a paragraph that tells parents they can talk to their child about the US national anthem and explains why some people are “taking a knee” to protest police brutality.
  • Removing the reference to socialist economies that says they can provide “greater equality while providing a fully functioning government-controlled economy” and replacing it with language that says socialist economies have “slow development ” and “less technological progress”.
  • Removing the language that says “as for a true communist economy, there is none in the world today.”

In April 2022, the state rejected math textbooks because it said some were not aligned with Florida content standards and others had subject matter declared unacceptable by the DeSantis administration, including references to “Critical Race Theory (CRT ), Common Core inclusions, and the unwanted addition of social-emotional learning (SEL) in math.” Critical race theory is an academic concept centered around the idea that racism is not just individual prejudice, but systemic, woven into our legal systems. Although critical race theory is not directly taught in K-12 schools — it is only used as a basis for lessons — Florida’s focus on it is controversial. Critics say students should have a broad understanding of racism in the United States.

Here are some examples given by the materials department that were rejected:

Concern: Not age appropriate.

Concern: Inaccurate description of socialism

Concern: Politically charged language when referring to the Hebrew Bible

Concern: Implies that real communism does not exist and paints an inaccurate picture of communism

Here is the list of social studies teaching materials that are not approved for use:

And here is the approved list of submitted social studies training materials:

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