As Florida Republicans continue to move forward with their war against what they see as “indoctrination” in public education, the state’s Department of Education posted four pages of examples from math textbooks that have been banned from classrooms for using “prohibited topics” such as “references to Critical Race Theory (CRT), inclusions of Common Core, and the unsolicited addition of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in mathematics.”
The New York Times was able to acquire additional pages beyond those four examples from textbooks banned in Florida school districts.
The Times points out that the state Education Department was not specific in what makes a violation and what warrants a book being banned, so it is not certain that the pages it obtained are what caused the ban.
The majority of the banned books do not mention race at all, but several of them contained SEL, which the Education Department is trying to block. Social Emotional Learning teaches children how to “manage their emotions, develop empathy, solve problems and make decisions,” according to a report from The Tampa Bay Times.
One page from a textbook in the New York Times’ report depicts a math word problem that shows kids how to support someone who is scared to cross a bridge in a jungle by encouraging him and helping to instill confidence in him.
One of the pages in one of the books that the Florida DOE used as an example explains how people score on the test on average based on racial bias, showing students the math used for determining the level of bias.
Some right-wing activists and politicians are rallying against the SEL method in Florida. Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute Chis Rufo told the Times:
“The intention of SEL 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.”
While Stephanie M. Jones, a developmental psychologist at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, pushed back on Rufo’s statement:
“Feelings arise all the time — they arise when we’re doing work at our offices, and when kids are learning things. It makes sense to try and engage those feelings or grapple with them in order to be more effective at the thing we’re doing.”