LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida schools, including in the Polk County School District, are now a battleground in the country’s culture wars.
“I am concerned about our culture,” Paul Hatfield of Polk County said. “I am concerned about the indoctrination.”
Hatfield was the lone speaker during Tuesday night’s school board who voiced support for the Florida Department of Education rejecting 54 out of 132 math textbooks submitted by publishers.
The department explained its reasoning based on the inclusion of common core, social emotional learning and prohibited topics such as Critical Race Theory.
“We are not going to use your tax dollars to teach our kids to hate this country or to hate each other,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said at the bill signing for the so-called “Stop WOKE” Act Friday.
The FDOE denied 71 percent of the math books for K-5 elementary school students.
“This particular administration, yes, they are interfering way more than they should,” Nancy Simmons said. “They’re trying to take local control away which is a real problem.”
Polk County Schools had considered adopting several of the banned math books in their curriculums.
“They are in a really bad spot and I’m glad they haven’t bought some of those books,” Simmons said.
At the start of the meeting, Superintendent Frederick Heid said the state provided feedback to the publishers to revise their rejected math textbooks.
“At this time the only materials that will be available for public review will be those that met the state of Florida requirements,” Heid said.
The FDOE has only released two examples of math problems submitted by the public that mention race, even though the alleged inclusion of topics like CRT is the reason the state said it rejected 21 percent of the math books.
“Let’s go back to math,” Del Lawson said. “2 + 2 is 4. I know math is way more advanced than that now, but there’s no reason to bring race into math problems.”
Polk County Schools are also reviewing 16 library books that have been pulled from the shelves after complaints they violate state laws to protect children.
Two committees are recommending that each book be retained in at least the high school libraries.
Nearly every speaker during public comment Tuesday night argued they should be banned from every school library because of obscene and inappropriate content.