TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Florida Department of Education announced the rejection of just under half of the textbooks submitted for curriculum inclusion for the 2022-2023 school year.

It’ll be the first time the state’s new curriculum, the Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking is used. The books rejected were for mathematics instruction.

The Florida BEST Standards were passed into law through Senate Bill 1048, moving the state to progress monitoring from more traditional standardized testing practices and opening up new curriculum requirements to be made.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed SB 1048 on March 15 while in St. Petersburg.

During his final days in office, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said the FDOE had rejected 54 of the 132 books submitted, 41% of them, over their alleged “indoctrination” and similarities to curriculum previously banned when Florida ended its use of Common Core standards. Of books submitted, 71% of books for grades K-5 were rejected, according to the FDOE.

Despite the large number of books rejected, the state said “every core mathematics course and grade” has at least one appropriate textbook to use in the coming school year. The announcement by FDOE said the K-5 books were rejected for not being “appropriately aligned” with Florida’s standards, as well as including prohibited topics and unsolicited strategies.

The announcement was titled “Florida Rejects Publishers’ Attempts to Indoctrinate Students.”

“We’re going to ensure that Florida has the highest-quality instructional materials aligned to our nationally-recognized standards,” Corcoran said. “Florida has become a national leader in education under the vision and leadership of Governor DeSantis. When it comes to education, other states continue to follow Florida’s lead as we continue to reinforce parents’ rights by focusing on providing their children with a world-class education without the fear of indoctrination or exposure to dangerous and divisive concepts in our classrooms.”

According to the department, here’s the breakdown of which proportion of books were rejected, by grade level or reason for rejection. A crossover of which age groups and which reasons for rejection was not provided.

  • 78 of 132 total submitted textbooks are being included on the state’s adopted list.
  • 28 (21 percent) are not included on the adopted list because they incorporate prohibited topics or unsolicited strategies, including CRT.
  • 12 (9 percent) are not included on the adopted list because they do not properly align to B.E.S.T. Standards.
  • 14 (11 percent) are not included on the adopted list because they do not properly align to B.E.S.T. Standards and incorporate prohibited topics or unsolicited strategies, including CRT.
  • Grades K-5: 71 percent of materials were rejected.
  • Grades 6-8: 20 percent of materials were rejected.
  • Grades 9-12: 35 percent of materials were rejected.

In the announcement of the books being rejected, the FDOE said books were blocked that “included references to Critical Race Theory (CRT), inclusions of Common Core, and the unsolicited addition of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in mathematics.”

According to the Committee for children, a global nonprofit, SEL is a “process of developing the self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills that are vital for school, work, and life success.” The organization said SEL teaches problem-solving, self-discipline, and impulse control, among other topics.

While it hasn’t been signed into law yet, the rejection of these books on grounds of referencing CRT may be a telegraph of the governor signing House Bill 7, which bans CRT from state schools, colleges and universities. He is already expected to sign the bill, which has been referred to as the “Stop WOKE Act.”

“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,” Gov. DeSantis said. “I’m grateful that Commissioner Corcoran and his team at the Department have conducted such a thorough vetting of these textbooks to ensure they comply with the law.”

A similar review process started for Social Studies textbooks on April 8. Publishers will have until May 13 to submit books for potential adoption into the new state curriculum.