Here’s What’s No Longer Allowed In Florida Social Studies Textbooks

Florida textbooks are being scrutinized more than ever before as the state now updates standards for what is allowed in social studies books.

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner | Published

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Florida textbooks

Curriculum content and political rhetoric entering the classroom has become a serious concern for many parents across the nation. Instead of teaching objective history lessons and core subjects, many schools are inserting biased Critical Race Theory (CRT), or culturally responsive training into classrooms, as well as pushing gender theory onto children. In an effort to combat these highly one-sided teaching methods, Florida has overhauled textbook requirements for the 2022-2023 school year.  

In April, the state rejected 41% of math books proposed for the next school year. This was due to CRT references, common core practices, and even Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in math lessons. These are now prohibited from social studies lessons as well as math, due to the fact that historical teachings must be factual and objective in order to provide unbiased information to students who are just learning about American history and the history of the world. 

For years now parents have expressed displeasure over confusing common core math lessons. What was introduced to simplify the teaching process became nationalized and adopted to teach all students the same way, which hinders independent thinkers as well as students with handicaps. In addition, many of the common core problem solving steps further complicate otherwise simple addition and subtraction concepts by adding unnecessary steps. Florida textbooks are no longer allowed to involve common core lessons for math and this crackdown on how lessons are taught has expanded to exclude social studies textbooks with other harmful content. 

In recent years, CRT has become a more pressing concern as parents who wish for students to learn core lessons and treat others with respect have found that this political ideology is divisive and demeaning. CRT opponents allege that it teaches that America is systematically racist, and that white people are inherently racist, whether they discriminate against minorities or not. This creates a barrier between students of color and white students making it more difficult for them to treat each other as equals. Refusing to adopt these experimental lessons, which have not proven to increase student success rates, Florida textbooks can no longer use culturally responsive tactics or other CRT principles in their pages. 

In addition, SEL has begun to take over lessons, diverting lessons of factual events in history to center around the social involvement and emotional impact. While SEL is being hailed by educators as a modern way to aid children with their understanding of the world, some criticize the practice for directing historical teachings to involve overtly emotional opinions and social pressures. Like CRT lessons, success rates and the full effects of SEL lessons are still unknown, and unproven. Because of this, Florida textbooks are no longer allowed to include these forms of content in printed textbooks.   

The new criteria for 2022-2023 Florida textbooks specifically aimed at social studies state that, “Content that is included in the materials should accurately represent the domain of knowledge and events. It should be factual and objective. It should be free of mistakes, errors, inconsistencies, contradictions within itself and biases of interpretation. It should be free of the biased selection of information. Materials should distinguish between facts and possible interpretations or opinions expressed about factual information. Visuals or other elements of instruction should contribute to the accuracy of text or narrative.”

Florida textbooks

The information presented must also be up-to-date and put in the context of the time frame in which events occurred. Florida social studies textbooks must equally represent various cultures and groups of people without biases and stereotypes. All in all, these new guidelines reflect the values traditionally taught in the public education system in decades past. 

Whether educators or activists agree with this measure, Florida textbooks are held to new standards. While some claim that books are being banned, the fact of the matter is that the state is merely choosing to be more selective of which books they purchase in their pursuit to properly educate children. Social studies itself has become a battleground topic. Some teachers wish to insert their view of history into classroom lessons, while many new textbooks have taken a biased political bent as well, and so in order to provide objective information with as much factual representation as possible, Florida lawmakers have set stricter criteria for textbook content. How this will affect student outcomes is yet to be seen.