NY Times' analysis breaks down Florida Dept. of Education's complex banning of dozens of textbooks

Ron DeSantis
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. William Buchanan)

The Florida Department of Education is at the center of scrutiny this week after rejecting dozens of mathematics textbooks containing written lessons they consider to be problematic.

Now, The New York Times is offering context into what this actually means. The department reportedly insists "some of the books 'contained prohibited topics' from social-emotional learning or critical race theory — but it has released only four specific textbook pages showing content to which it objects."

However, due to the department's release of scarce details, the NY Times has conducted its own review of the debated material. Despite the department's concerns about critical race theory, the publication determined that most of the textbooks had very little information that touched on "race, never mind an academic framework like critical race theory."

Here are other key takeaways from their findings:

"Many of the textbooks included social-emotional learning content, a practice with roots in psychological research that tries to help students develop mindsets that can support academic success," The Times wrote. "One example from marketing materials provided by the company Big Ideas Learning — whose elementary textbooks Florida rejected — features one common way teachers are trained to think about social-emotional learning."

Although The Times notes that research suggests students are benefiting from the implementation of social-emotional learning, right-wing activists such as Chris Rufo have adamantly tried to correlate this style of learning to education on "race, gender and sexuality in classrooms."

The Times' analysis comes amid deep criticism of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and Republican lawmakers' decision to ban dozens of textbooks. In fact, political commentator Linda Li tweeted her criticism of DeSantis describing his recent actions as "ChristoFascism in a nutshell."

“Ron DeSantis banned 28 math books because he and his base are so terrified of critical race theory and Black people,” political commentator Lindy Li tweeted. “He banned abortion because he and his base are so scared of women having control over their own lives…Ladies and gents, this is ChristoFascism in a nutshell.”

Back in March, Rufo conducted an email via interview where he expressed concern about the style of learning. During that interview, he said that "social-emotional learning sounds 'positive and uncontroversial' in theory, 'in practice, SEL serves as a delivery mechanism for radical pedagogies such as critical race theory and gender deconstructionism.'”

“The intention of SEL,” he continued, “is to soften children at an emotional level, reinterpret their normative behavior as an expression of ‘repression,’ ‘whiteness,’ or ‘internalized racism,’ and then rewire their behavior according to the dictates of left-wing ideology.”

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