Politics

Florida governor can’t cite single example of “Critical Race Theory” content in banned math books

Gov. Ron DeSantis
Gov. Ron DeSantisPhoto: Shutterstock

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) gloated that the state Board of Education had rejected numerous math textbooks for being too “woke,” but when questioned about the ludicrous claim, he couldn’t name a single example. And when his press secretary tried to defend him, she faked it.

The board announced that it will ban 71% of elementary school math textbooks and 41% of textbooks for all grades. Officials say the curriculum contained “prohibited content” about “critical race theory.”

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While DeSantis had previously insisted the textbooks contained “prohibited content” that was meant to “indoctrinate” children, he backed off the rhetoric slightly while still trying to excuse the authoritarian move.

“Math is about getting the right answer. It’s not about how you feel about the problem or introducing some of these other things,” DeSantis said in defense of the Orwellian claim. “There’s a right answer and there’s a wrong answer.”

DeSantis’ press secretary, Christina Pushaw, tried to prove her boss correct by tweeting out a cropped photo of a worksheet that used Maya Angelou’s life story in a multiple-choice math lesson. The worksheet is from Missouri, not Florida.

While Pushaw’s clip makes it look like the school was promoting prostitution and incest, the actual full copy of the worksheet shows the lesson was about Angelou’s life experiences and not elementary instruction in addition or subtraction. It is an algebra worksheet that a teacher got from a website, not a part of any of the textbooks that Florida banned.

The school district apologized to the offended parents and stopped using it.

Critical race theory is a body of academic work that originated in law schools in the 1970s and 1980s. Conservatives in the 2020s have started calling all discussion of racism “critical race theory,” but it’s not clear how they found it in elementary school math textbooks.

Republicans and the religious right have turned schools into the latest front in the culture wars. From laws that ban transgender children from playing school sports to restrictions on history class instruction on slavery and the Holocaust, conservatives have pushed dangerous claims using racist and homophobic stereotypes and slurs.

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