Sir, this is a children’s textbook.
Florida governor and potential Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis’s ongoing offensive against “learning stuff” and “slightly inconveniencing white folks with historical truths” has crossed a strange new threshold recently, with a triumphant announcement from the Florida Board of Education that they had “Reject[ed] Publishers’ Attempts to Indoctrinate Students.”
“But, wait,” you might say. “Isn’t that a good thing? Indoctrinating students sounds scary and bad!”
Ah, but what if I told you DeSantis and Co. were patting themselves on the back for:
a) banning a record level of math textbooks. Yes. Math. And,
b) banning a sizable portion of them because they claimed they were chock-full of spoooooooky scaaaaaaaary critical race theory.
“It seems that some publishers attempted to slap a coat of paint on an old house built on the foundation of Common Core, and indoctrinating concepts like race essentialism, especially, bizarrely, for elementary school students,” DeSantis said in an April 15 statement announcing the record-setting 41% math textbook rejection rate. “I’m grateful that [Florida Education] Commissioner Corcoran and his team at the department have conducted such a thorough vetting of these textbooks to ensure they comply with the law.”
Curiously, the state didn’t actually provide any examples of what sort of “race essentialism” was allegedly being forced onto elementary math students. It did, however, brag that a whopping 71% of math textbooks submitted to the Florida DOE for kindergarten through fifth grade were rejected. In fact, per the state, of the 132 total books submitted, “28 are not included on the adopted list because they incorporate prohibited topics or unsolicited strategies, including CRT.”
If this is starting to sound a little far fetched to you, that’s probably because, well, it’s is. This is math we’re talking about. Math. The pure, unfiltered “language of the universe” — untouched and unaffected by the base trivialities of humankind.
And let’s not forget that the furor over so-called “critical race theory” is really a manufactured conservative panic over an entirely meaningless catchphrase that has nothing to do with its origin as a very specific, very focused field of legal study. Instead, what is actually happening here is simply the latest chapter in DeSantis’s (and the conservative movement at large’s) ongoing enterprise to gut and reshape the American educational system to fit his right-wing agenda. The “CRT” panic is simply a bad faith vector of attack in that larger effort, designed to piggyback on a serious-sounding catchphrase, without actually offering anything of substance beyond generalized fear-mongering.
And now, it seems, not even math is immune.