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April 19, 2022 5:17 PM   Subscribe

Following on the boot heels of his Don't Say Gay legislation (MeFi post), Florida Governor Ron DeSantis rejected school textbooks for being too "woke" and teaching critical race theory including all but one math textbook publisher for children from kindergarten to fifth grade. posted by dances_with_sneetches (22 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My personal politics are to the left of AOC but I don’t see why CRT or other touchy feely subjects are in math books. It’s math. If Captain Ron is correct, that CRT is in math textbooks, then I grudgingly agree with the decision.

I support teaching CRT in schools, just not everywhere. Math is the purest subject and shouldn’t be muddied with politics.
posted by karst at 5:28 PM on April 19

Math books have "in the real world" and "focus on math in history" (for instance, maybe a short lesson about a black astronaut to introduce parabolas which are used to rocket flights) sections to make the topics more interesting to students, and/or to make it easier for publishers to "update" the books so they can sell newer editions to schools who still have the virtually identical older edition.

But it's not like there's anything controversial in most math textbooks... to my mind, the only way you could confuse what's in math books with if you're against the kind of bland multicultural inclusion that plays in TV ads all the time (like for instance, maybe there's a "spot the student error" problem where the student with a Hispanic-sounding name has the correct answer, but not the student with the white-sounding name). It's not CRT it's just normal inclusive textbook writing to encourage the minority students reading the book that they, too, can be good at math.

HOWEVER, with only one publisher being approved it really seems like more a backroom deal / kickback situation to me.... On top of changing the state standards (so now every single book they buy has to be a new, first-edition book), prohibiting all the other publishers just means his buddies at Accelerate Learning are about to make a ton of money.
posted by subdee at 5:34 PM on April 19 [11 favorites]

I'm assuming that the math books were rejected because of "common core" or topics that they decided were "rebranded common core."

Math being math, there is only one thing to teach. If it looks like common core math, that might be because common core math is just math, and the only way to avoid it is to avoid math. I'm guessing that the Florida DOE is not full of mathy types.

For instance, a common core technique is to teach (a+b)^2 by drawing an axb grid and showing the various pieces corresponding to a^2, b^2 and 2ab. Common core in disguise? Probably any other picture of (a+b)^2 would count as such.
posted by TreeRooster at 5:35 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]

Why is America so depressingly awful?
posted by dobbs at 5:39 PM on April 19 [10 favorites]

I absolutely do not trust these people to evaluate whether or not something is CRT - they've already shown that they have pants-on-head bonkers ideas about what CRT is. I mean, is this "CRT"? I suspect these chuckleheads would say yes.

Wilma Rudolph became the first African American woman to win 3 gold medals in Track and Field at the Olympics in 1960. She could run 100 meters in 11 seconds. If she kept that pace, how many seconds would it take for her to run 400 meters? (This is a real example from here.)
posted by joannemerriam at 5:40 PM on April 19 [13 favorites]

The supporters of this bill believe that telling kids gay people exist is the same as exposing them to explicit sexual content. I have no doubt that they would also see the inclusion of Black people in word problems as "Critical Race Theory."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:40 PM on April 19 [3 favorites]

No, they were mostly rejected for "CRT" especially at the K-5 level. Here's the article from NPR:


It's 54 books rejected in all, 28 were rejected for CRT, 12 for not meeting the new cirriculum standards and 14 for both. It's as crazy and bad as it sounds.
posted by subdee at 5:41 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]

If Captain Ron is correct, that CRT is in math textbooks

What does that even mean? Critical race theory has a very specific context and a very specific meaning. You might as well argue about whether there’s transformational generative grammar theory in a math book.

I would like to see specific examples of what was found objectionable. My fear/guess is it may be something as simple as the use of non-Anglo names in the word problems. There is nothing about this that I support, but facts are helpful in all news coverage to move us out of outrage-generation articles to reporting that focuses on specifics that can be discussed and assessed.

on edit: thanks for the examples. Very helpful.
posted by Silvery Fish at 5:42 PM on April 19 [7 favorites]

DeSantis has also ordered the legislature to go after Disneyworld, because of their “woke” attitude in being against the Don’t Say Gay law.

Why is America so depressingly awful?

Fundamental Christianity.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:43 PM on April 19 [7 favorites]

Because the kids need to be smrt.

It's about the children!
posted by whatevernot at 5:45 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]

Math is the purest subject
This idea was why I was so bad at it. Mathematics was taught to me as a set of rote-memorisable formulae, without context or meaning; and those of us in my classes who were good at memorising—say—the quadratic formula or a derivative were treated as intelligent and worthy, and those of us who had no idea what the apostrophe was for in f'(x), and obviously, never had that kind of thing explained, were shuffled off to English and History, and by the way, fuck you. I was very, very good at History.

It was only as an adult that I realised that these things I had been taught were metaphors for aspects of the real world, a key piece of information I never quite got; that algebra had a history of numbers-standing-for-numbers (a concept high school had left unexplained), that delta stood for the concept of change, that calculus described rates of changes, and that logic was developed as a fundamental part of thinking and working of objects. I am ashamed to say it was only as an adult that I fully got that π is a geometrical constant inherent in circles, rather than just a button to press on a calculator, and a number to memorise on flash cards for the exam.

Why is a Cartesian grid (the x/y two-axis) called as it is? Yes, folks, it's our friend René Descartes, who's got himself a strange and fascinating history of philosophising about objects and being able to describe them as a plane, which would have made a great deal of sense had it been there, whereas our teaching method—here's x^2, and here's x^3, and if you don't get it, fuck you—gave us no context about why the axes were graphical.

And then, again as an adult, I read about Francis Galton and the super-freaks who created the modern mathematical world of statistics! If you think the idea of standard curve with a deviation, or our modern tradition of statistically describing populations and behaviours, comes from a pure nowhere, without race or gender or sexuality, I have horrible, horrible news for you...
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:46 PM on April 19 [7 favorites]

The kids specifically need to not be smart... smart people are too difficult to control... they need to be kept ignorant so they can be lied to more effectively.
posted by subdee at 5:47 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]

It's not like these are college level books about linear algebra... they are K-12 books. Where I teach part of our evaluation is "cultural relevance" which means we're supposed to find ways to make math relatable to the students. I introduce the chapter on mathematical proofs with a logic problem about three snowboarders, one who always tells the truth, one who sometimes tells the truth, and one who always lies. The kids always guess that the black snowboarder must be the one telling the truth bc they know that's how the examples in the math textbooks aimed at the urban school districts usually go. I tell them that's inductive reasoning, or reasoning by example, and the point of the lesson is to use deductive reasoning. In the unit on imaginary numbers, I play a video about math duels in the 16th century. The students honestly learn better when you make the topic relevant and don't just stick to math, especially for the general (non-honors) classes where they don't necessarily like math that much to begin with.
posted by subdee at 5:52 PM on April 19 [5 favorites]

I support teaching CRT in schools, just not everywhere.
I would love to hear what you think CRT is.
posted by neroli at 5:54 PM on April 19 [5 favorites]

But again like I said... I smell bullshit on this story. Bet you 9:1 odds DeSantis has some kind of deal worked out with the only publisher that wasn't banned. Just another cynical grifter move like we see in education "reform" all the time bc K-12 schools are huge captive audience.
posted by subdee at 5:57 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]

I would add that my high school had—because Australia is the country it is—a depressing and concentrating self-segregation in the actual mathematics classes; in a fairly multi-ethnic cohort in the 90s, the cultural backgrounds and demands of kids' parents won out; with the demands of university and course entry to vocational paths controlling the curriculum. It was the Asian kids, especially the boys, who seemed even to see themselves as 'better at maths' towards a secure professional life of a 'good degree', and the white boys like me who wrote good history essays, read about politics, and streamed to Arts degrees and jobs with cultural cachet (but no numbers, please).

You can try to keep race out of mathematics, but you're just not going to keep the students from noticing the skin colours of the classes.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 6:02 PM on April 19

Karst, it’s math. It’s not in there. This is simply precedent for raising hell over every other subject so DeSantis can get his precious president publicity.
posted by Selena777 at 6:04 PM on April 19

DeSantis can get his precious president publicity.

Ooooooorrrrr . . . . setting up his own run . . .
posted by soundguy99 at 6:08 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]

I don’t see why CRT or other touchy feely subjects are in math books. It’s math. If Captain Ron is correct, that CRT is in math textbooks

Why would you think CRT is actually in math books? Why would you believe "Captain Ron" is correct? And why would you feel OK saying you believe what he is saying?

Maybe it's because you believe racist garbage like DeSantis' press secretary Christina Pushaw's fabrication of a Maya Angelou themed math test? The image is a fabrication. It substitutes racist tropes for the actual exam worksheet. This is Elders of Zion level propaganda. (WTF Politico? They repeated this easily fact-checked lie without commentary.)

The truth is Florida governor can’t cite single example of “Critical Race Theory” content in banned math books. It's part of a pattern of things DeSantis is doing right now to bolster his hate credentials. Along with more dastardly things, like his taking over redistricting to illegally take 4 Congressional seats for the Republican party.

I can't understand how anyone in good faith would look at what DeSantis is doing and say "yes, we really should discuss the problem of CRT in kids math textbooks." It's like saying "yes, we really should discuss the problem of the Jews undermining Germany in World War I."
posted by Nelson at 6:09 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]

And another thing... Every time "Critical Race Theory" comes up I cringe. Mostly because it's some manufactured Republican talking point, claiming somehow that white children are being indoctrinated into evil or something. Which is garbage. Undermining anti-racism education is the goal and it is evil.

But also actual, real CRT is this academic branch of legal scholarship. And quite interesting too! It's actually more accessible than you might think for a graduate level legal theory. This introductory chapter is quite readable and interesting.
posted by Nelson at 6:12 PM on April 19

CTRL-F: "3/5"
If >0, then reject.
posted by Etrigan at 6:12 PM on April 19

Parenthetically, ever notice that Republican lists of banned books never include Adolph Hitler's 'Mein Kampf'?
posted by mikelieman at 6:12 PM on April 19

« Older They’re all classified. Sorry.

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