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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 (150 comments total) 13 users 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 [1 favorite]


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 [78 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 [12 favorites]


Why is America so depressingly awful?
posted by dobbs at 5:39 PM on April 19 [80 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 [64 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 [29 favorites]


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

https://www.npr.org/2022/04/18/1093277449/florida-mathematics-textbooks

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 [7 favorites]


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 [37 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?

Slavery.
Fundamental Christianity.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:43 PM on April 19 [56 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 [79 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 [17 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 [35 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 [72 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 [28 favorites]


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 [3 favorites]


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 [9 favorites]


DeSantis can get his precious president publicity.

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


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 [110 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 [37 favorites]


CTRL-F: "3/5"
If >0, then reject.
posted by Etrigan at 6:12 PM on April 19 [11 favorites]


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 [14 favorites]


Anyone who has even, like, a three-sentence understanding of what CRT is (and if you're not a lawyer or an advocate, that's about all anyone could expect of you) knows how vanishingly unlikely it is that it would make any meaningful appearance in an elementary school math textbook. So anyone seriously arguing that "oh yeah that's CRT in those books" doesn't know what CRT is, but merely gleaned that it is somehow Bad and Controversial Talk About Race from right-wing rhetoric, and was satisfied that that was sufficient to enable them to make public pronouncements on the subject. Such a person should cease talking about education and go get some, because, just considered as a matter of process, that's a pitiful way for a grown person's brain to work.
posted by praemunire at 6:24 PM on April 19 [17 favorites]


Graduates of red state schools need not apply.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 6:24 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]


Florida teacher here. I am horrified but also slightly amused because… do these people think that students actually read their textbooks? Do they think that kids actually remember what they read? If they wanted to “protect the kids” from “woke ideologies” they’d be far more concerned with social media and the internet, which is where kids are actually forming their values. It’s all virtue-signaling and red meat for his base.

DeSantis is a truly Machiavellian politician - he has absolutely no morals, no regard for democracy, he’s petty and retaliatory, and he thirsts for even more power.

He’s also a terrible public speaker - flat and uncharismatic. I do wonder how all the red hats will feel when they realize DeSantis can’t rock a rally like Trump.
posted by gnutron at 6:33 PM on April 19 [31 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.

Miami Herald's got the jump on that story, I imagine others will fill in soon.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 6:37 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


I might have paid more attention to math in grade school if they were sneaking in CRT and real history lessons in general instead of abstracted word problems that were often about units of food that made me feel hungry and distracted.

To be honest I kind of wish there was a lot more hybridization across genres or domains of knowledge and learning like this. You could easily use history to teach math, or vice versa, or art to teach science and otherwise turn every lesson into a sort of multi-layered fractal lesson and show how so many things relate to each other.

An example would be talking about the history of pigments in art, the science and chemistry of pigments, how that related to economic trade and cultural and economic development. Or how chemistry and physics have related to war and conflict.
posted by loquacious at 6:38 PM on April 19 [10 favorites]


I support teaching CRT in schools, just not everywhere.

If you think this, it's because the propaganda has worked. "Critical race theory" is a conceptual model for intersectional upper-year academic study, it's not "teaching young people that racism and injustice exist".
posted by mhoye at 6:44 PM on April 19 [56 favorites]


Next DeSantis will be saying these math text books aren't manly enough.
posted by jabah at 6:47 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]


DeSantis thinks he is going to be our next President. Everything he does is preparation to steal Trump's base from Trump. I worry he might succeed.
posted by wittgenstein at 7:03 PM on April 19 [8 favorites]


It seems like the real story here is that the Florida Department of Education and Ron DeSantis are claiming with no evidence whatsoever that there is any "CRT" or other objectionable content in the vast majority of the textbooks submitted for approval.

This is the kind of thing which would be trivial to prove by simply pointing out the offending passages, if there was the slightest factual basis for their claims.
posted by Reverend John at 7:06 PM on April 19 [12 favorites]


Every Walt Disney World video I’ve seen in the past couple of weeks, the comments are wall-to-wall parroted Fox News talking points. It’s scary how quickly the base gets itself mobilized.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:08 PM on April 19 [3 favorites]


Base, or bots?
posted by mollweide at 7:12 PM on April 19 [3 favorites]


Fleshbots. They’re made of human parts but the brain has been replaced by a script processor.
posted by aramaic at 7:15 PM on April 19 [7 favorites]


"Critical race theory" is a conceptual model for intersectional upper-year academic study

This is true, but pretending that it simply doesn’t have any currency outside of the ivory tower is kind of disingenuous. CRT is bearing fruit outside of academia, which is a good thing. Pretending that it isn’t happening because the idiots tilting at windmills on Fox are using jargon wrong doesn’t do our side any good. Either CRT exists and is relevant to society, or it’s meaningless.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 7:19 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


It is just infuriating that we have to have so much discussion and debate and heat on this subject and they can just refuse to provide examples.

DeSantis has set the most idiotic terms for this debate possible, and it seems we're stuck with it.
posted by Wood at 7:30 PM on April 19 [5 favorites]


Either CRT exists and is relevant to society, or it’s meaningless.

Well...okay. Give me some concrete and plausible examples of how CRT would be taught in elementary math textbooks. Better yet, find those examples in the rejected textbooks.

are using jargon wrong

Choosing a random term to stuff full of indeterminate fears and hates and set up as the boogeyman to hunt down in every corner of society is not just misusing a term and does not merit countering in the same fashion.
posted by praemunire at 7:45 PM on April 19 [11 favorites]


/Either CRT exists and is relevant to society, or it’s meaningless.

You really can't imagine any in between? Like, say, some ideas that are relevant to folks in higher education but have nothing to do with elementary children in math classes?

I try hard to assume good faith here on Metafilter but the number of appallingly gullible comments believing racist propaganda is hard to accept.
posted by Nelson at 7:46 PM on April 19 [22 favorites]


If Jareth owned seven slaves, and Ivana owned 11, what is the collective burden of guilt on everyone who continues to maintain unjust, oppressive systems, inflicting suffering to enrich themselves?
posted by Jacen at 7:51 PM on April 19 [12 favorites]


Meanwhile, computer scientists who aren't quite paying attention are excited to hear that Florida will only be teaching math in binary.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:51 PM on April 19 [7 favorites]


Give me some concrete and plausible examples of how CRT would be taught in elementary math textbooks.

Sorry, I’m not a teacher, much less a math teacher. What I am is a person that interacts with high schoolers, and some of these high schoolers have expressed some impressively sophisticated understandings of the way CRT shapes their knowledge of the world around them. That’s both a good thing, and a real thing. All I’m saying is that the repeated claims that CRT is only something that occurs in grad school seminars are kind of rhetorically silly.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 7:57 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]




There is some really fantastic resources for other knowledge systems learning math--and ones which unsettle how we learn and construct meaning from math---here is some indigenious math from UBC: link

Here is some fantastic work from West African sources: from the University of Houston

there are people who are doing this important cultural work, that gets bulldozed by dumb thinking on race and its incredibly frustrrating.
posted by PinkMoose at 7:59 PM on April 19 [9 favorites]




wait until they find out that election results are based on math

hmmm

maybe de santis has figured it out
posted by pyramid termite at 8:10 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


OK, that may be one of the best McSweeney’s lists ever.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:17 PM on April 19 [4 favorites]




If we're going to ban educational curriculum is anyone else on board with just banning math in general?

It would solve a lot of our modern problems ranging from misinformation and the emotional toxicity of social media to economic scams and shenanigans to being able to make advanced weaponary and we could just go back to living in the trees.
posted by loquacious at 8:29 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]


It’s like DeSantis thinks he can get people in Florida so revved up about race and sexual minorities they won’t notice the water lapping at their ankles.
posted by jamjam at 8:31 PM on April 19 [15 favorites]


I’m hearing a lot of people complaining about there being politics in their art science literature video games Star Trek math.
posted by Revvy at 8:39 PM on April 19 [4 favorites]


some of these high schoolers have expressed some impressively sophisticated understandings of the way CRT shapes their knowledge of the world around them. That’s both a good thing, and a real thing. All I’m saying is that the repeated claims that CRT is only something that occurs in grad school seminars are kind of rhetorically silly.

I don't generally see people claiming that. I see people claiming that it's not typically part of high school curricula. As to where your high schoolers are getting their sophisticated understandings, I think gnutron is correct:

If they wanted to “protect the kids” from “woke ideologies” they’d be far more concerned with social media and the internet, which is where kids are actually forming their values.

There's one side here that's being disingenuous, or more plainly put, deliberately lying for the sake of political warfare. They're alleging that there's a widespread conspiracy by leftist elementary school teachers to indoctrinate 2nd and 3rd graders into hating whites and trying out gay sex at the earliest opportunity, and large numbers of people believe them and are engorged with rage. They're putting teachers' livelihoods at risk, putting vulnerable children's lives at risk, enacting racist, sexist, homophobic and transphobic laws.

But forget all that, the real threat is Democrats' silly phrasing.

This is a shameful time in American history.
posted by xigxag at 8:42 PM on April 19 [27 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.

^^^^ bing bing bing bing we have a winner

if he doesn't then it's one of his biggest donors who does.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:18 PM on April 19 [12 favorites]


It's pretty obvious Abbot and DeSantis are competing who can stoop lower in political theater and manufacture outrage to turn out the voters for whatever elections that come next.
posted by kschang at 9:21 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


What I am is a person that interacts with high schoolers, and some of these high schoolers have expressed some impressively sophisticated understandings of the way CRT shapes their knowledge of the world around them. That’s both a good thing, and a real thing. All I’m saying is that the repeated claims that CRT is only something that occurs in grad school seminars are kind of rhetorically silly.

I’m sorry, those high school students are great but they’re not expressing sophisticated understanding of CRT. They may be having sophisticated discussions of race and society, but that’s not CRT just because everyone learned the term six months ago.

CRT is not something that “occurs” anywhere, any more than, say, Conceptual Foundations of Quantum Mechanics “occurs”.
posted by schoolgirl report at 10:14 PM on April 19 [29 favorites]


If students don't learn CRT in math classes, how will they to do efficient modular exponentiation?
posted by autopilot at 10:35 PM on April 19 [6 favorites]


Are they also removing set theory from math textbooks, on the grounds that it leads to paradoxes that can undermine students' fixed beliefs, as some Christian homeschoolers apparently argue?
posted by acb at 2:19 AM on April 20 [12 favorites]


It’s all virtue-signaling and red meat for his base.

In the context of the modern Republican party, vice-signalling is a far more useful tactic.
posted by Paul Slade at 4:04 AM on April 20 [4 favorites]


Also known as performative cruelty.
posted by acb at 4:11 AM on April 20 [9 favorites]


This is the kind of thing which would be trivial to prove by simply pointing out the offending passages, if there was the slightest factual basis for their claims.

I’ve said this more than once in the blue, but you need to remember that the lies, ignorance and hypocrisy are virtue signaling for anyone else whose politics boil down to the domination of others who aren’t part of their in-group. Accusing conservatives of lies, ignorance or hypocrisy is more than pointless. It encourages them, it's egging them on. Of course they don’t think the constraints that apply to you - honesty, decency, some measure of respect for the notions of truth and the common good, some vestigial moral consistency - should apply to them. That's the the entire point of the conservative exercise; that you are bound, you are constrained in your actions by these things, and they are not.

That is what the conservative conception of power is, and why they seek it; so they can be liars, so they can be ignorant, so they can be hypocrites, and so they can enjoy their lies, ignorance and hypocrisy without limit or consequence, at the expense of others.
posted by mhoye at 4:56 AM on April 20 [25 favorites]


HOW is journalism so BAD?!? I can find NO examples of actual math problems in any of these news articles.
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:03 AM on April 20 [8 favorites]


Not to derail the nonsense in Florida but if you haven't seen it already go watch Mallory McMorrow's speech yesterday in the Michigan state senate regarding performative Christian bullshit from a fellow senator.

We need 100x more of this. Every day.
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:11 AM on April 20 [18 favorites]


is anyone else on board with just banning math in general?

It would solve a lot of our modern problems ranging from … the emotional toxicity of social media


I know we’ve butted heads a few times here on Metafilter, but ….
posted by eviemath at 6:22 AM on April 20 [1 favorite]


HOW is journalism so BAD?!? I can find NO examples of actual math problems in any of these news articles.
posted by tiny frying pan at 9:03 AM on April 20 [+] [!]


It was mentioned in a news story I read yesterday that they asked for examples and didn't get any.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:25 AM on April 20 [9 favorites]


It was mentioned in a news story I read yesterday that they asked for examples and didn't get any.

There aren't any and that's the point.
posted by mhoye at 6:29 AM on April 20 [10 favorites]


Also we've been discussing how their aren't any examples in this whole thread, I linked a whole article about it. HOW are Metafilter comments so BAD?!?
posted by Nelson at 7:09 AM on April 20 [2 favorites]


B
posted by tiny frying pan at 7:11 AM on April 20


(I see one example in that article? From Missouri?)
posted by tiny frying pan at 7:12 AM on April 20


And then one example from the textbooks. One.
posted by tiny frying pan at 7:18 AM on April 20


What's the one example from the textbooks?
posted by subdee at 7:22 AM on April 20 [1 favorite]


(It's unclear if the Twitter thread is showing "the actual work" from the banned textbooks or the Maya Angelo's example posted last is just a problem that was lifted from...somewhere.)

I would still like to see multiple examples of what is in the rejected textbooks.
posted by tiny frying pan at 7:29 AM on April 20


Wait until they find out math can be non-binary...
posted by Snowflake at 7:40 AM on April 20 [2 favorites]


I’m sorry, those high school students are great but they’re not expressing sophisticated understanding of CRT

No. And no to everyone else saying the kids don't get it. I spend my time in high school English and university English and education classrooms in the US. And these students might not be able to define Critical Theory, or list its tenets, but they understand the underlying concepts. They know that the US specifically impedes the progress and advancement of people of color. They know that, among other tenets, most instances of oppression also involve profit. And they know so much more. AND, they know that retaking the means of production--culturally, textually, informatically, etc.--is one way to counter the hegemonic, systemic, and brutal oppression of most people, especially people of color, but also including anyone not straight-cis, culturally European, religiously Christian (which should read Abrahamic, but of course Muslims are hated, and the grouping Judeo-Christian deliberately excludes them).

So sure, the high school students aren't reading Derrick Bell (but they could) or Paolo Freire, or Fairclough, or bell hooks, or other critical theorists or discussing it directly, but they see and understand power imbalance and oppression. They know that strength, power, and community wealth comes from where they come from and is the font or fund of knowledge and information to fight against the status quo. They don't believe in meritocracy or democratic myths, but they know they've been fed those things by the media--including the textbook industry--for a long time. The kids are much savvier than the media or other anecdata would have you believe. Look at the critical theory and critical literacy research, if you like. Elementary and middle school children are remixing and repurposing and applying the tenets of critical theory in their classrooms. Take a look at Bean and Moni (2003), Beck (2005), Behrman (2006) ESPECIALLY THIS REVIEW OF CLASSROOM PRACTICES, Bishop (2014), Borsheim and Petrone (2006), Comber (2013)--Article title: "Critical literacy in the early years: Emergence and sustenance in an age of accountability," and I could go on. And I will if anyone wants to read about how critical theory is in our schools, and is making a difference.
posted by Snowishberlin at 7:41 AM on April 20 [6 favorites]


It was mentioned in a news story I read yesterday that they asked for examples and didn't get any.

There aren't any and that's the point.


That should be the headline.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 7:42 AM on April 20 [6 favorites]


Mathematics, like all forms of higher learning, is a hazard to right-wing dogma. Once impressionable minds learn that there are no absolutes, they will inevitably turn to crime and drugs.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 7:45 AM on April 20 [1 favorite]


As we've discussed, the Maya Angelou "Person Puzzle" that DeSantis' press secretary posted is an obvious racist fabrication. Please read my comment above about it.

If anyone has an actual example of a real problematic page from a math textbook in Florida, please provide a citation for it. Don't just talk obliquely about "one example in that article".

I'm disturbed by the number of people in this thread giving any credence at all to DeSantis' racist propaganda. The whole point of the Big Lie is to get people talking seriously about a thing that doesn't even exist. The linked Politico article and this discussion on Metafilter are helping promulgate that lie.
posted by Nelson at 7:46 AM on April 20 [7 favorites]


Nelson, the actual Maya Angelou problem sheet is in the link you posted, not just the racist fabrication. Look at the link again. It is not clear if it was taken from the rejected textbooks, at least to me.
posted by tiny frying pan at 7:50 AM on April 20


Sermon from the Count

Math has natural numbers, whole and whole ∑. Do we really need children taught about radicals? Irrational numbers that never end? Negative numbers that serve no purpose but to make up the left wing of a number line?

The multiplication and plus signs have bottom extensions that make them grounded and righteous, x and +. The Bible declares be fruitful and multiply. Jesus was crucified on a plus sign, four right angles, good and just.

Should we be teaching children about floaty operations like division ÷, a UFO sent to perform anal probes. The division sign grooms children to be slanted /.

Soon our youths will be binomial curious, under the sway of pedophile cardinal numbers, seeking out correlations, moving their logs in logarithms!

Twenty per cent of our children will be decimated! Facts will become factors! Mothers will be forced to bake irrational pis that never end.

Lines will have slopes. Slippery slopes leading to intersections at xxx axes? Y, Y, Y? Z-Z-Z. Wake up! The infinity sign ∞ are the boobies of education!
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:50 AM on April 20 [5 favorites]


(Nothing I've said is oblique when everyone has access to the same link you posted and I referenced)
posted by tiny frying pan at 7:51 AM on April 20


Nelson, regarding your concerns about other posters “giving credence to racist propaganda”: you misread my initial comment badly, and then responded (seemingly sans irony) to it by accusing me of arguing in bad faith, all while arguing a straw man that had nothing to do with my comments (you might notice on closer read that I haven’t said a single thing about math or elementary schoolers, contra your claims). You’ve done the same with multiple other commenters. If you’re truly that horrified by the comments in this thread and want to understand what’s going on, you may want to take a look inward.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 7:55 AM on April 20


And no to everyone else saying the kids don't get it. I spend my time in high school English and university English and education classrooms in the US. And these students might not be able to define Critical Theory, or list its tenets, but they understand the underlying concepts.

So, I’m definitely not an expert in these areas, but my understanding is that critical race theory is a very specific academic sub-discipline related to but distinct from more general critical theory as applied to racial dynamics. I, too, know high school kids with the understandings you describe. I suspect there are high school kids who could read a critical race theory text and understand it as well as your average grad student, even. But you seem to be conflating some things with similar names that are not quite the same things, and thereby drawing a conclusion that is not supported by your argument. Like, bell hooks and Paolo Freire are more or less in the tradition of critical theory (Freire might pre-date that terminology or perhaps not have self-described as such? and hooks’ popular works are at the edges of that academic field, if my understanding is correct? I’m sure there are gaps and errors in my understanding in this area), and apply that to race, but are not Critical Race Theorists.

But also, we’re talking about elementary school math textbooks, which are for a different (younger by a few years - generally only goes up to fourth or fifth grade) age group and created by textbook publishers who generally don’t seem to necessarily have the experience and understanding of the high schoolers you describe, so I’m not sure how any of this is relevant?
posted by eviemath at 8:03 AM on April 20 [8 favorites]


and we could just go back to living in the trees.

Hell, even the trees were a bad move, we should never have left the oceans.

Still, you gotta admit, digital watches are pretty neat.
posted by Reverend John at 8:07 AM on April 20 [7 favorites]


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

This would be my guess too, and I really don't disagree.

There are actually 3 different ways recommended to subtract across 20 questions in my kids' 3rd grade homework (place value, Singapore, and the old school way if you are curious. Number strips too if you want to count that as a 4th). They really seem to love estimating for some reason too. Why push estimating so hard if you are working to actually get kids to be able to do higher math in their heads?

The math word problems are mostly ok on this batch of homework, but I've seen more than one that was incomprehensible.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:26 AM on April 20


To add to my last comment, though, we can (and should) indeed talk about how the “pssh, how can math possibly be political?!” reaction is also problematic just in a different (though just the other side of the coin) way than the DeSantis attacks on education. Which some commenters in this thread have done.

It ties in with conservative objections to Common Core, which relate to the emphasis in Common Core standards on reasoning and creative problem solving and understanding and asking questions rather than rote work and obedience, and the fact that Common Core includes pedagogical and content recommendations that attend to equity issues in making learning material and instructional methods accessible to students from a wider variety of backgrounds (which comes from a worldview that is anti-racist and accepts that differential outcomes are the result of structural inequities, rather than inborn ability differences that oh gee just happen to follow racial and class-based and gendered lines). Educating for growth mindset and metacognitive skills is also an important component of Common Core (including in math), and that does provide kids with the skills to question and challenge authoritarian and fundamentalist belief systems. Kids learning stuff that their parents weren’t taught and so don’t know themselves tends to make parents with more authoritarian or fundamentalist worldviews quite uncomfortable, all on its own, too, even were they just learning facts (or “facts”) by rote that were far enough outside of their parents’ own knowledge and experience.
posted by eviemath at 8:26 AM on April 20 [15 favorites]


They know that the US specifically impedes the progress and advancement of people of color. They know that, among other tenets, most instances of oppression also involve profit.

While I doubt any critical race theorist would disagree with these points, they are really not critical race theory per se; most, if not all, antiracists would endorse these positions. I'm going to be super brief and reductionist here but it really seems like this conversation has gone on long enough without at least some clarity on what CRT is.

Arising in the context of frustration with the failure of civil rights legal victories to achieve equality, CRT (a species of legal realism) specifically treats race as a strictly socially constructed concept rather than "natural" and racism as embedded in social structures rather than merely emerging from the actions and beliefs of individual bad actors (even at large scale). It therefore addresses how superficially race-neutral institutions like the law and the courts end up perpetuating racism, and how apparent advances in civil equality occur in large part because they also serve the interests of white people. "Racist people made Rosa Parks sit in the back of the bus, and the problem was solved by the Montgomery boycott and desegregation litigation, so now everyone can sit where they want" is the classical liberal position, and by far the most likely thing for younger people to encounter in their schooling. "Racism has profoundly historically influenced residential patterns, distribution of resources, and the means of funding transportation, and hence legal desegregation of buses won't be effective because if white people are required to share buses with people of color, they will secure funding for other effectively exclusive means of transit (as well as using their own inherited funding advantages) and bus services, especially to places with large populations of color, will be cut to the bone" is CRT.

Maybe some of your brighter/more perceptive kids are getting there! I wouldn't be surprised to hear it! But they aren't getting this in elementary math, and in most places not even in high school social studies or history.
posted by praemunire at 8:27 AM on April 20 [25 favorites]


Why push estimating so hard if you are working to actually get kids to be able to do higher math in their heads?

(1) Estimation skills are important for number sense, which is necessary for both mental calculation and higher mathematical skills.

(2) Estimation requires/is a useful way to practice an understanding of place value and the base ten structure of how we write numbers, and this understanding is necessary to understand why eg. multi-digit addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division algorithms work, as well as to be able to choose situationally-appropriate mental math strategies and shortcuts. In turn, such understanding and fluency is important for making the successful transition to algebraic reasoning and then on to higher levels of math (calculus and above) later. In particular, understanding how to represent a problem in multiple equivalent ways and translate between different representations is a necessary skill for parts of basic algebra and basically all of math from trigonometry onward.
posted by eviemath at 8:36 AM on April 20 [10 favorites]


This seems to be the source of the Maya Angelou math problem. One teacher downloaded a test off a site five years ago and got in trouble immediately.
posted by LindsayIrene at 8:45 AM on April 20 [1 favorite]


(2) Estimation requires/is a useful way to practice an understanding of place value and the base ten structure of how we write numbers, a

Eh. I only learned the old-school way, which of course means I can't do that much long math in my head and because I can't, I do estimate. But I also took trig and calculus and didn't need 4 different ways to understand how to subtract and add for any of that.

In my opinion, they have no idea what they are trying to accomplish, stuck between the old and the new, and are basically throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:45 AM on April 20


I spent the last hour digging into this Angelou "Person Puzzle" worksheet and the story is more complicated than I realized. When I said it was "an obvious racist fabrication" I was absolutely wrong and this comment here is me trying to correct my mistake.

My confusion comes from there being two different versions of the worksheet. There's the troubling worksheet that DeSantis' press secretary posted. And then there's this copy of a similar worksheet that's totally innocuous. My assumption was the innocuous one was the real educational material and some propagandist had fabricated the troubling one.

Just for clarity, the innocuous worksheet has this question #5
5. After the encouragement of writer John Oliver Killens, in 1959 Angelou moved to ______ to focus on her writing.
The troubling one has this question
5. Trying to support her son as a single mother, she worked as a pimp, prostitute and ______.
Question 3 is also different in the two.

But it turns out the troubling version is real and was actually distributed in classrooms several years ago. According to the Associated Press in a widely republished 2017 story it was distributed to kids in Pennsylvania schools. This blog post has other examples of the troubling version being distributed, including in Florida in 2015. So why are there two versions? And why was the troubling one distributed to students?

The answer is in this 2018 blog post from the creator of the worksheet. Paraphrasing, the author Clint Clark says he wrote the worksheet as a way to combine his teaching of a seminar on Sexual Trafficking and Algebra 1. He also says "I decided that it would be difficult for teachers to effectively use that particular resource without the additional context I had, so I removed that content." That explains the troubling version. The innocuous version is a revision Clark made later.

So the controversy about the Person Puzzle worksheet is at least about an event that really happened. I would be upset too if I found out kids were given the troubling version. I accept the teacher meant well and maybe in the right context it might have worked as a lesson combining math with education on sexual abuse. But it sure looks dumb to me.

However, none of this has anything specific to do with 2022 Florida textbooks. I don't believe anyone is claiming the troubling version of this worksheet is currently part of Florida curriculum. DeSantis couldn't cite a single example of CRT from a 2022 Florida textbook.

Also none of this is "critical race theory". CRT is an academic theory about how American law is fundamentally based in racism, particularly the protection of slavery. This troubling worksheet is an example of an anti-sex-trafficking curriculum, trying to educate students about Maya Angelou's life history and the difficulties she overcame. It is a cherry picked example of a mistake someone made and corrected years ago. I fully support the larger agenda of teaching students about racism and sexual abuse in age-appropriate ways. I also understand the desire to blend social history in with math lessons; story problems are a very old teaching tool.

I feel like an asshole because I had the wrong assumption in my previous comments, that the worksheet was an obvious propaganda forgery. It's not. I apologize for the mistake and for the inappropriate heat I've brought to this conversation. So many things DeSantis does are awful that it's hard to retain a cool and clear head when talking about them sometimes.
posted by Nelson at 9:02 AM on April 20 [19 favorites]


In my professional observation teaching math to future teachers, some of the actual on-the-ground teachers do indeed end up not really knowing what they are doing - that is unfortunately true. There are, as the other post I linked noted, indisputably issues in the implementation. But the Common Core math standards themselves are well thought-out and based on actual research into learning and cognition. One can certainly have opinions about the values and goals of something like the Common Core standards. DeSantis and co clearly have different views on this than I do. But disagreeing with empirically verified research results, in the absence of an informed critique of the research methods, is not really having an opinion so much as simply being wrong.
posted by eviemath at 9:04 AM on April 20 [6 favorites]


It's not about Common Core, or CRT, or SEL, or parental rights to oversee pedagogy, or any of those things per se.

It's about the fact that the public education system, as flawed as it is, affords Those People the opportunity to rise above the stations that rich white guys would assign them. Everything else is just excuses.
posted by Etrigan at 11:05 AM on April 20 [8 favorites]


From a National Review article I read so y’all didn’t have to:

“The decision leaves Florida’s schools with the option to use textbooks produced by one publisher: Accelerate Learning. Based out of Houston, Texas, the company claimed its textbooks were “built from the ground up to the Florida B.E.S.T,” in partnership with Rice University. Per its website, however, Accelerate Learning is reported to have donated to organizations such as NAACP, Black Lives Matter and Equal Justice – organizations which have expressed support for CRT.”
posted by Selena777 at 11:34 AM on April 20


https://amp.tallahassee.com/amp/7357965001

The company was acquired by Carlyle group which had Glenn Youngkin as CEO until he left to run for office in VA.
posted by Selena777 at 12:01 PM on April 20 [5 favorites]


So sure, the high school students aren't reading Derrick Bell (but they could) or Paolo Freire, or Fairclough, or bell hooks

I'm not sure about the other two, but teens on tumblr love bell hooks. She does media criticism and writes about popular culture and social justice, all topics they are interested in. And she is a feminist. That's a well-represented group on tumblr. I've seen her papers used to support positions I don't agree with, where I think the posters are twisting her arguments a bit.

Are they learning this in school? No, like a few people above have mentioned, they're learning it on the internet.
posted by subdee at 12:15 PM on April 20 [4 favorites]


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?
Woohoo runs fast, they could run 100 meters in 11 seconds. If they kept that pace, how many seconds would it take them to to run 400 meters? How far could they run in 35 seconds?

You got your peanut butter in my chocolate, no you got your chocolate in my peanut butter. Why is there sports trivia in the maths? That's history, or track coach thing. Is this also preparing you for Jeopardy?

Why is that question so specific and not generic? What are you supposed to be learning? Is the quiz going to be the math part or is it going to be remembering "the first African American woman to win 3 gold medals in Track and Field at the Olympics in 1960"?
posted by zengargoyle at 12:16 PM on April 20


When I worked in curriculum development, one of the projects we worked on was a huge set of lesson plans that incorporated agriculture into lessons in traditional subjects aligned with the state standards at each grade level. Teachers with an interest in agriculture could then pull lessons out and use them when teaching math, reading comprehension, biology, etc. I mean, those word problems have to be about something, and it might as well be something you wouldn't otherwise have time to teach. (And if they were also doing our school garden program, it could all be reinforces though experiental learning.) You can't make all your problems about widget production and train arrival times, or the kids are going to get pretty bored pretty quickly.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:41 PM on April 20 [17 favorites]


I'm trying to imagine a nonspecific word problem. A thing went twenty distance units in ten time units. How many distance units will it go in fifteen time units?

Oh, there's currently a bill in the works in Arizona that would allow parents to know anything their child tells a counselor. Things are going greeeeeat.
posted by LindsayIrene at 1:27 PM on April 20 [3 favorites]


Let the lawsuits begin.

DeSantis just rejected 54 bids for government contracts based on what appear to be unsubstantiated and politically motivated claims.

Similarly, the Florida Senate, at the urging of DeSantis, just passed a law to revoke Disney’s special tax status because of Disney’s public statements against the “Don’t Say Gay” law. In other words, the government of Florida is attempting to financially punish Disney over Constitutional protected speech. DeSantis and several State Senators have explicitly and publicly stated this is the case. As such, in addition to suing the State of Florida, Disney potentially has the option to sue DeSantis and possibly individual State Senators.

Courts may open their doors for relief against government wrongs under the doctrine that sovereign immunity does not prevent a suit to restrain individual officials, thereby restraining the government as well.
posted by chrisulonic at 4:04 PM on April 20 [7 favorites]


Why is that question so specific and not generic?

Because students need to understand that math is interwoven with their daily experience of reality. This is...not a new idea.
posted by praemunire at 5:25 PM on April 20 [22 favorites]


w/r/t the interwovenness of mathematics with lived experiences of reality.

One of the lessons of algebra I do recall very well was learning the concepts of compounding interest (and of exponential functions more generally). For the record, it's various configurations of A = P(1+r/n)^nt, where there's a principal number, a number of times the amount compounds, and the interest rate, which make a predictable and consistent curve to the final expected amount, and, taken one step further, to repayments/dividends. It's algebra basic enough that even I can do it, and it's fundamental enough for our whole economic and financial system to run on it.

Which all made a great deal of sense, because we were all familiar enough, just starting our first jobs at 14 or 15 or so, with savings accounts for wages, and most of us knew the basics of borrowing money because our parents did; but then the lesson got around to discussing actual loans and compounding debt, and then it got interesting. What happens if I don't repay? Who made up this concept that there'd be an 'interest rate', isn't that just a made-up rule, and who decides it? Well yes, and no, and well, it's complicated, and you'll get to what the Reserve Bank is in a few years' time. Can I lend money to my mates at interest, if it works so well? Absolutely no, you can't. Why? And is debt bad or good? Well this is just the maths, but yes you should avoid debt if you can, except when you have to borrow, obviously, and look this is getting away from...

Then someone brought up the fairness concept, (and religious rules about 'usury', in the Quran and in Christianity) and yes, and no, and it's complicated, and then someone else's brain made the obvious link to English classes in which we were studying The Merchant of Venice—at which point things progressed well, well beyond the curriculum, because our maths teacher had obviously not had historical antisemitism or the social context of money in the lesson plan.

In the end though, these intrusions of the humanities into maths (and vice-versa) are inevitable, and it's almost a pretension held by higher-level maths practitioners that the field is abstractable to purity. It's extremely hard for most people to think mathematically without making a cognitive step to a familiar application; even Euclid was interested in shapes like triangles and cylinders and their areas because so were ancient builders and architects.

It's now really very hard to think about how you'd go about teaching exponential functions and rates of growth/decay, without the gigantic shadow of COVID infections and deaths hanging over the letter r for rate. Which really gets back to the political need for mathematics: a population is better fit to understand its own risks, and avoid being lied to, that understands that even if a beginning principal number is low, and a risk is also low, but the rate is very very high, that the final amount will continue to increase. No wonder one side of politics has a vision of contextless 'just maths'!
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 6:33 PM on April 20 [11 favorites]


> teaching critical race theory

It's pretty clear that what they mean by this is that people of color are represented somehow "too much" in the book. That's what all the panty-bunching here is all about.
posted by flug at 11:59 PM on April 20 [4 favorites]


>>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?

>Why is that question so specific and not generic? What are you supposed to be learning? Is the quiz going to be the math part or is it going to be remembering

Maybe you'd rather have these nice word problems from 1952.

The Wilma Rudolph example is doing the same basic thing as those 1952 examples, except so, so, so much better.

"Imaginary Person #1 does Imaginary Thing #2 for Imaginary Person #3 for so many imaginary units of time at so many imaginary units of currency per imaginary unit of time. Now how much should Imaginary Person #3 pay Imaginary Person #1 for doing Imaginary Thing #2?"

It's so much easier for people to think and reason about something actual that happened to someone real. Versus: "Imagine this, imagine that . . . blah, blah, blah, a bunch of nonsense."

And yes, absolutely, you're learning history in your math class and English in your history class and science in your PE class and the all the rest. In any school and with any teacher worth their salt.
posted by flug at 12:16 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


Presumably if the imaginary people who have 5 apples and 3 apples are named Miguel and Lakeisha rather than Brad and Heather, some minority kids might get ideas above their station.
posted by acb at 1:36 AM on April 21 [6 favorites]


I'd rather do a word problem about Wilma Rudolph than the one I encountered in college physics about how fast you need to reload an elephant gun to shoot a bull elephant of mass m, if the wind is blowing on vector v. I remember nothing of college physics except that godawful question set. At least the Wilma Rudolph problem is not distracting. (Unless you think Black women's accomplishments are distracting, I guess.)

The way I was taught to approach word problems was very rote/stripped-down. Find and underline the numbers, ignore all other text. I think this is a BIG mistake, actually, because it treats math as divorced from reality. I conceptually struggled a lot with algebra (letters as numbers WHAT SORCERY IS THIS) and with calculus (goddamn birds flying between Train A and Train B) because I couldn't see the relevance so I just did what I was told, found the numbers and plugged them into the formulae I'd memorized. I was pretty good at the plug-and-play aspect, so my teachers didn't really notice that I didn't understand any of it.

I ended up internalizing math as this other thing and until well past college, failed to connect math with my actual daily life. If I'd had word problem about Wilma Rudolph or Maya Angelou, or even Miguel and Lakeisha baking a cake with their 5+3 apples when the recipe calls for 6 apples so how do they scale up the flour and eggs ... maybe I'd have been more confident in math, and in baking, as an adult.
posted by basalganglia at 4:02 AM on April 21 [4 favorites]


I remember nothing of college physics except that godawful question set.

The best math lesson I ever had was in a Star Trek Pocket Book where Spock showed some kids that (x-1)(x+1)=(x^2)-1, without the fancy equation parts.
posted by Etrigan at 5:11 AM on April 21 [2 favorites]


America got this way for a number of reasons. Apathy, election of less than mediocre politicians, i.e dangerous, the failure of some grassroots local movements, stupidity, the division of the working class into powerless factions and few hundred other reasons.
posted by DJZouke at 5:23 AM on April 21


And, as always, America's racial hierarchy, and the legacy of slavery, plays a significant part. That there is a significant number of otherwise precarious people whose only asset is their Whiteness, and thus their privileged place in the racial hierarchy as guaranteed by America's unwritten social contract, which egalitarianism continuously threatens to erode.
posted by acb at 5:27 AM on April 21 [3 favorites]



https://amp.tallahassee.com/amp/7357965001

The company was acquired by Carlyle group which had Glenn Youngkin as CEO until he left to run for office in VA.


yup. follow the money. the rage and the racism are always a smokescreen for the money.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 6:20 AM on April 21 [5 favorites]


Personally, I think they keep emphasizing calculus over statistics in high school so that fewer people internalize how to deal with all the numbers in the media. It makes using "lies, damn lies, and statistics" a lot easier for the unscrupulous.

I took Calc I in college, and never touched an integral again -- but I hear statements about surveys and growth rates and numbers and trends and data every damn day of my life.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:54 AM on April 21 [2 favorites]


Journalists tracked down some of the rejected textbooks.

They don't seem to have anything to do with CRT, at all.

Some of them seem to have been rejected for incorporating "Social-Emotional Learning":
Florida Reveal Math Grade 5, which was also rejected, uses similar prompts to encourage students to think critically about how they work with others in the classroom setting. “When we do math, we listen to the arguments of others and think about what makes sense and what doesn’t,” the book states in the introduction.

Other prompts encourage critical thinking and highlight relationship skills, such as: “What can I learn from others’ thinking about the problem?” and “What can you do to help all classmates feel comfortable in math class?”
I think you might reasonably agree or disagree about whether that belongs in a math textbook. I am not a math teacher, but it seems to me that children do occasionally need to be reminded not to be shitty to their classmates when they disagree or make a mistake, and it's not like any decent teacher is going to be neglecting adding and subtracting in favor of telling students to be nice to each other.

(Although, in fact, my ninth-grade geometry teacher did spend a lot of time on what would now be called social-emotional learning. Best math teacher I ever had, and I did actually learn a lot of math in that class.)

But does the state of Florida have a compelling interest in saying, "no, individual school districts can't decide to use this book which has a couple of paragraphs about being nice to your classmates"? I don't think so - unless it's about putting money in the wallets of Accelerate Learning execs.
posted by Jeanne at 6:56 AM on April 21 [8 favorites]


What kid today has interest in 60 year old Olympics factoid? Half of my time tutoring algebra was crossing out unneeded information and making it into relevancy. That's the job of the teacher, not the textbook. It would be pretty awesome if one could MadLib(tm) a textbook, but one can't, that's why it's abstract. The teacher takes the abstract and makes it contextual to the pupils. There are sports teams, there are local places, the teacher creates and points out the abstraction. Oh, nevermind we don't actually have teachers anymore.

There's no need to sugar coat it, maths is just easy, and it's actually easier when you realize that you can cross out and replace all of that fluff with whatever you want. So why that specific sixy year old example?

I dare you, make a MadLib sort of noun/verb worksheet/test. Could be fun!
posted by zengargoyle at 7:37 AM on April 21


Randomize the names in that 1952 text....
Problems for children from 5 to 15
posted by zengargoyle at 7:49 AM on April 21


Anybody want to place bets on good old fashioned book burning rallies soon?
posted by Jacen at 8:01 AM on April 21


“When we do math, we listen to the arguments of others and think about what makes sense and what doesn’t,” the book states in the introduction.

Other prompts encourage critical thinking and highlight relationship skills, such as: “What can I learn from others’ thinking about the problem?” and “What can you do to help all classmates feel comfortable in math class?”


I don't have a reference open at the moment but that sounds like state standards language to me. So either Florida actually required publishers to include it in textbooks or it is carried over from a national program--hence the dreaded Common Core--which is another nominal (fake) reason for rejecting a bunch of these publishers.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:02 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


Isn't a lot of this backwards?
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?
is a good word problem, not because it teaches kids important history or whatever, but specifically because it includes a mix of information that's relevant (100 metres, 11 seconds) and irrelevant (1960, 3 medals) to the question being posed, and identifying which information is relevant, and how, is the key skill word problems teach.
posted by kickingtheground at 9:18 AM on April 21 [18 favorites]


I absolutely agree - it's a good word problem for all the reasons you say. Separately, KIDS HATE MATH. Therefore, any additional interesting tidbits you can include to spark kids' interest in the material is a good thing. And why shouldn't kids - white, black, or otherwise - learn about Wilma Rudolph and her 3 gold medals? Who cares if it's in math class instead of history class?

After all, Florida isn't banning math textbooks became they contain information that is irrelevant. They are specifically calling out CRT, which is a Republican dog whistle for "this book acknowledges the existence of black people and might make you sad about racism."
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 9:49 AM on April 21 [8 favorites]


There's a meme making the rounds of a Florida math problem
Congressman Matt Gaetz and 2 friends have 10 ounces of cocaine. There are 12 people at the party, 3 of them are girls under 18. What should he call it on the Venmo transaction?
(Venmo reference explained.)
posted by Nelson at 10:55 AM on April 21 [11 favorites]


I think the key here is that the one company that has acceptable textbooks said they followed Florida's code. Since they didn't write the textbooks overnight, that means the Florida government favored a particular company by sending them the rules in advance.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 3:34 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]


By the way, my most popular blog post looked at DeSantis math.
This was preceded by this post.

I was not trying to bash DeSantis, but it just seemed that whenever the data were the worst in 50 states (and DC), it pointed to Florida. I ran an analysis of which state had the highest rate of death per population since the Delta virus appeared in the US (through October 1st, 2021 when I decided to look up the numbers). Florida was in first place.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 4:01 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


In the mid-1980s, state tourism officials came up with the slogan:
Florida: the rules are different here
And the goverment keeps finding new and more appalling ways of proving it right.
posted by cheshyre at 5:26 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]


These days it's Florida: Rules? What rules?

Disney made some statements mildly critical of the recent "Don't Say Gay" bill, so the Legislature went nutso and decided to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District as punishment. Come June 1st 2023, Disney is going to have to rely on the counties their property is in to provide many of the services needed to keep the park going.

Normally I'd say great, no more special treatment, but it's going to cost Orange County nearly $200 million a year and saddle them with the $2 billion dollars in debt RCID currently has outstanding. Plus it's some obviously fascist shit what with it being a direct response to Disney offering the mildest criticism of the state Republican's anti-gay anti-LGBT+ agenda.

More directly on topic, it turns out that at least some of the math textbooks rejected for mentioning "race" were actually referring to foot races. You can't make this shit up.
posted by wierdo at 6:00 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]


I took Calc I in college, and never touched an integral again -- but I hear statements about surveys and growth rates and numbers and trends and data every damn day of my life.

Growth rates are calculus. That’s the main idea of derivatives. Statistics for continuous data are also integrals: integrals describe any sort of continuous accumulation problem. But if you took a traditional calculus course, it’s entirely understandable that those two fundamental main ideas about the concepts didn’t get emphasized or conveyed!
posted by eviemath at 6:09 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]


What kid today has interest in 60 year old Olympics factoid?

Given the specific factoid, probably Black girls.

Your initial comment about this, replacing Rudolph’s name with a nonsense word, also came across as a crypto-racist thing to say. If that has not been your intent in either comment, I would suggest thinking a bit more carefully about your words or phrasing before posting.
posted by eviemath at 6:14 PM on April 21 [7 favorites]


Separately, KIDS HATE MATH.

What?! Little kids love math! It’s neat puzzles! Kids who have bad math classes (unfortunately somewhat common) do learn a fear or dislike or distrust of math class, I’ll definitely grant you that. But that’s entirely a learned response.
posted by eviemath at 6:16 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


On the topic of word problems (also linked in my other post on number sense that I linked up-thread): Dan Meyer: Math Class Needs a Makeover
posted by eviemath at 6:19 PM on April 21


BREAKING NEWS: DeSantis is such a fucking idiot he decided to take on over a BILLION dollars in bond debt and pick a fight with Disney's army of lawyers just to get petty revenge for Disney's slight pushback over the "Don't Say Gay" legislation.

Like, I'm trying and failing to locate a more textbook definition of "insecure bullying."
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 8:13 PM on April 21 [5 favorites]


It's all political theater well in advance of the GOP Convention. Abbot's theater of "bus the folks to DC" has the same aim. They are in a dash for the bottom in their quest for the conservative voters "just in case" they may get to take on Biden in a few years, assuming GOP doesn't try to nominate Trump again.
posted by kschang at 8:38 PM on April 21


> It's all political theater well in advance of the GOP Convention.

The Extreme Bias Of Florida's New Congressional Map - "On Thursday, the Florida Legislature finally caved to DeSantis's wishes and passed one of his proposed congressional maps — the last major piece in the national redistricting puzzle. And befitting DeSantis's national reputation (and ambitions), it is a dream map for partisan Republicans, single-handedly adding four new Republicans to the U.S. House of Representatives. But while DeSantis's uncompromising insistence on maximizing Republican power may give him a nice story to tell if he runs for president, it could also be the map's undoing in court."

> These days it's Florida: Rules? What rules?

@DKThomp: "As the parties polarize around institutions + trust, the Democrats are becoming the party of RULES (with institutional heroes, like RBG and Mueller) and Republicans are becoming the party of RULERS (swashbuckling outsiders who pledge to use great power to burn down the system)"

> yup. follow the money. the rage and the racism are always a smokescreen for the money.

They Know How Journalism Works! They're Just Against It! - "They want someone to knock on your door, too. Not to put you in the newspaper, though."[1]
This new right fundamentally doesn’t want "newsgathering" to happen. They want a chaotic information stream of unverifiable bullshit and context collapse and propaganda. Their backers, the people behind the whole project, are philosophically and materially opposed to the idea that true things should be uncovered and verified and disseminated publicly about, well, them, and their projects. This may have started as a politically opportunistic war against particular outlets and stories, but it has quickly blossomed into a worldview. It’s an ideologically coherent opposition to the liberal precepts of verifiability and transparency, and the holders of those precepts are too invested in them to understand what their enemy is doing. The creep’s account, everyone in the press should understand, is the model for what they will be replaced with.

It’s not even that the right needs people to lose “trust” in traditional news organizations to win elections or start wars. That already happened and they won. It’s more like they need people to just randomly trust whatever bullshit feels right, to get them to fall for scams and believe propaganda. In the grandest dreams of the pathetic people doing most of the unpaid work, the end game is the eradication of “deviance” from public life. And that is a real threat that the people opposing this should take more seriously. Upstairs from them are the people whose job it is to make sure old people set up recurring payments. Upstairs from them, the goal is that no one finds the boss’s shell companies or offshore accounts. The mission is mainly to prevent, stigmatize, and delegitimize the discovery and confirmation and dissemination of information about how a few people got their money, where they keep it, and what they do with it—like spending it on subsidizing bigotry about trans people and getting gay teachers fired.[2]
> Which really gets back to the political need for mathematics: a population is better fit to understand its own risks, and avoid being lied to...

@Scholars_Stage: "Look New Right friends--all this talk of RAGE is nonsense until you have competent people who can do a fraction of the jobs you want to axe. The whole *idea* behind the New Right program is that government should be used for rightist ends. But that means, you know, having a cadre of people with practical experience governing."[3]
posted by kliuless at 11:34 PM on April 21 [4 favorites]


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?
Imagine yourself as a black kid taking a math class that used this textbook.

How many to times do you think you, your brothers, sisters and cousins; your parents, aunts and uncles; and their sibs, cousins, aunts, uncles and parents have all heard 'black people can't do math', except mainly with various ethnic slurs substituted for 'black'?

Don’t you think it might do you some good to know that as recently as 1959, no African American woman had won 3 gold medals in track at the Olympics, even though today, African American women absolutely dominate in track and field at the Olympics?

That it might help you to realize and believe that the reason you may not be able to point to very many black people who are really good at math doesn’t have anything to do with a lack of innate capacity of black people to do math, any more than the relative dearth of black women with multiple medals at the Olympics before 1960 was because black women couldn’t run fast around a track?

And that it might help you do better in math because you now have more reason to believe people like you can do math, since a bunch of white people have been saying you can't, and you know they said things just like that to women like Wilma Rudolph before 1960, and they couldn’t have been more wrong?
posted by jamjam at 2:33 AM on April 22 [9 favorites]


I'd admit to not knowing much about little black girls
Lemme stop you right there, because the rest of your comment is nearly incomprehensible and also has a strong whiff of protesting too much. Wilma Rudolph is a legend and why shouldn't students learn some Black history (it's more than just random sports trivia, in many people's eyes) in their word problems? This seems like exactly the kind of noncontroversial (until Florida being Florida) example that someone thought up precisely because it also checks boxes for diversity, history, and reading skills.

I'm not sure why teachers would be expected to tailor questions if there's a perfectly good textbook (that they are probably obligated to use) right there.
posted by TwoStride at 4:33 AM on April 22 [10 favorites]


A Look Inside the Textbooks That Florida Rejected: "many of the textbooks included social-emotional learning content, a practice with roots in psychological research that tries to help students develop mind-sets that can support academic success... Until recently, the idea of building social-emotional skills was a fairly uncontroversial one in American education. Research suggests that students with these skills earn higher test scores.

But right-wing activists like Chris Rufo, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, have sought to tie social-emotional learning to the broader debate over the teaching of race, gender and sexuality in classrooms."
posted by BungaDunga at 6:07 AM on April 22 [6 favorites]


That NYTimes article just made me want to weep.

I'm a college professor; I have undergraduate advisees in my major, which sort of straddles the humanities/social science divide. I also teach a course in the major that uses math and physics.

Every year when I teach that course, and every advising season when students have to figure out their gen eds, which include a math course and two science courses, I'm met with "I'm not good at math", "I'm not a math person", "I just can't understand this", etc. This is heavily gendered, as you'd expect. I do my best to counteract this, but it's 18+ years of having this engrained in their heads.

I am a little leery of the whole "growth mindset" thing, and can see how it can be used as a bit of a bludgeon, but still, if my future students can get in their head early and often that yes, they can do math, yes, you can learn how to do this, that will make their lives so much better. And now assholes like Rufo are trying to undermine the whole damn thing.
posted by damayanti at 6:48 AM on April 22 [7 favorites]


damayanti, thank you! It sounds like you might find the (very readable!) book Mathematical Mindsets interesting and potentially helpful. In shorter reads, you’ll likely quite appreciate the article Carol Dweck Revisits the ‘Growth Mindset’, where Dweck also expresses concern or discomfort with some of the ways her work has been interpreted or over-simplified in its application - especially mis-applications that lead to “not having a growth mindset” being one more thing that kids feel inadequate about.
posted by eviemath at 7:00 AM on April 22 [3 favorites]


The “A Look Inside the Textbooks That Florida Rejected” link quotes DeSantis as saying “You know, math is about getting the right answer and we want kids to learn to think so they get the right answer.” This is a common misperception about math, but still wrong despite being common. Math is a collection of reasoning tools and ways to model and represent problems more abstractly in order to reduce them to simpler, solvable problems. That means that to learn math well (not just be able to answer by rote problems that are exactly like other problems they’ve seen), students need to learn some metacognitive skills - thinking about their own thinking or reasoning about their own reasoning processes. Metacognitive skills take years to develop well, but the examples in the article are not just helping students get along with each other (though that’s also a nice side benefit), they’re the intro stages of learning my metacognitive skills that are developmentally appropriate for elementary school students.

‘Course, metacognitive skills are part of critical thinking and can lead to questioning authority figures.
posted by eviemath at 7:12 AM on April 22 [3 favorites]


I checked the four examples released by the Florida department of education.... One perhaps leaned slightly too hard into pointing out that conservatives had way higher racial bias, one mentioned that bias can be connected to politics, and two were emotional social learning. Gross, Florida politicians.
posted by Jacen at 7:14 AM on April 22 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure why teachers would be expected to tailor questions if there's a perfectly good textbook (that they are probably obligated to use) right there.

And that's my main point. I'm sure it's the teachers responsibility to tailor the explanations and not to just hand the student a textbook. Maybe teaching has changed. Read this, try the problems, we'll discuss tomorrow, teacher makes things relevant to the class until understanding, here, read this bit and do the problems and tomorrow we do the same.

Maybe I misunderstand the role of teaching, sounds like it's just read the textbook and let me grade your quizzes. Has our educational system gone that far.... maybe? I don't really know.

What ever happened to teacher not textbook? Seems the roles have reversed. A good teacher beats textbook every time.
posted by zengargoyle at 7:36 AM on April 22


What ever happened to teacher not textbook? Seems the roles have reversed. A good teacher beats textbook every time.

It's called No Child Left Behind, that's what happened.
posted by sciatrix at 8:03 AM on April 22 [2 favorites]


That's a flip answer, but what it means is that emphasis on repeated testing and student achievement scores has fundamentally changed the enterprise of education and the ways teachers are expected to work within the structure. Essentially, when you hold education hostage to high-stakes test scores that are frequently administered and used as rationale for keeping or losing jobs, receiving or losing funding, etc., you create a system in which the ultimate authority becomes the test rather than either teacher or a particular textbook. Scoring well on the test then becomes the index of quality education, which can be.... shall we say, flawed.

There is so much pressure on teachers and so little support, and that trendline has been continuing for something like twenty years now. Framing the problem in terms of teacher responsibility is sort of amazing at this point, honestly; again, it's been twenty years of trying to reach "equality" by removing as much pedagogical freedom as possible from teachers while also reducing funding. Maybe we could try giving teachers increased support in terms of pay, aides, minimizing expectations on teachers that are more in line with social work, stability; see if that results in a higher quality of education than cheaping out on education at every level imaginable all the way to the ballot box does.
posted by sciatrix at 8:12 AM on April 22 [5 favorites]


Florida releases 4 prohibited math textbook examples. Here they are. "One of the examples involves a graph that shows results of a test that measures levels of racial prejudice. Another shows a social-emotional learning objective that says: “Students build proficiency with social awareness as they practice with empathizing with classmates.”"
posted by BungaDunga at 8:49 AM on April 22 [2 favorites]


It occurs to me that insisting that children must under no circumstances learn anything about empathy or emotions and then tying any mention of empathy to the anti-"CRT" panic does seem pretty explicitly fascist in a way that just pursuing the two goals separately doesn't. It's not enough that textbooks be scrubbed for racial purity but also for anything that might encourage students to connect with each other or recognize that they have emotions.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:57 AM on April 22 [8 favorites]


Maybe teachers tailor problems that they do for the class during lessons, but even when I was a kid back in the 70s and 80s, we did plenty of pre-written problems as-is from the textbooks as homework. That's what those problems are for.
posted by LindsayIrene at 9:16 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


(Wait, are they even called problems anymore? I'm old.)
posted by LindsayIrene at 9:18 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


I seem to recall we called them Exercises. Read this, do Exercise 1, 5, 7, and 10. Try the other ones if you like. Sorta split across a couple of days. A bit of introduction, read and do these, then a next day bit of making sure you understand what you've learned. Rinse, repeat. Some of them have the answers in the back of the book (don't peek). Then the teacher susses out the sticking points. My math teacher would then ask for 5 and 10 for grading.... If you can do those, you can do the rest if you pay a bit more attention or something. Those are the things that hone in on to make sure you understand. Remember to show your work.... (my harpy)/
posted by zengargoyle at 10:12 AM on April 22


Ugh, those "four" "examples". First, the first two examples aren't really separate. They are based on trying to model survey data with a polynomial. The fact that the data in question is about racial bias versus age or political identification hardly makes it an example of "Critical Race Theory".

Second, the last examples are just a single bullet point and one paragraph blurb about social awareness while working with classmates.

None of these should be anything like a reason to sink a textbook. And these are the best "four" "examples" out of 28+ textbooks?

I swear to god, everyone from the publishers and textbook authors, to the teachers and parents and students, to the press and general public should be howling about how DeSantis and company are just making shit up. This shouldn't even be about "CRT" or "SEL" at this point. This should be about the blatant, bald-faced lies that are being used to promote conservative propaganda at the expense of having multiple good textbook options for a quality math education.
posted by Reverend John at 10:34 AM on April 22 [6 favorites]


Here’s a math problem: what is the proportion of folks who oppose “SEL” who were also very vocal about kids needing to attend school for their social and emotional development as part of their claimed reasons to oppose pandemic lockdowns or masking in schools?
posted by eviemath at 11:04 AM on April 22 [13 favorites]


And, you know, this whole thing is making me think about the pattern of conservative lies stretching back decades. From Watergate, through Iran-Contra, the Swift-boat lies, the stampede to war in Iraq, the ACORN voter fraud lies, the denial of the mounting evidence of global warming, the Obama birth certificate lies, Trump’s many lies including claims of Biden somehow acting improperly regarding Ukraine and the “stolen election” lies, to now this idiotic “CRT” in math textbook lie, I feel like this pattern is implicit in a lot of left leaning criticism of the right, but it also doesn’t seem to me to often be explicitly pointed out as a larger pattern.

And even when this pattern is hinted at there is a suggestion by some people that this kind of lying is just common in politics and something “both sides” do. But for the life of me, I can’t think of any scandals of great enough magnitude from the Democrats or the left as a whole to put up against the above list. Clinton & Monica Lewinsky? Hillary Clinton’s supposed mishandling of emails? I’m stretching to even think of the slightest scandals to put up against the Republican’s record, much less establish a pattern going back decades like you have with the Republicans.

And I know I’m preaching to the choir here, and I know this is all rather rambling and incoherent, but these are some thoughts that have been swirling in my head now, about the pattern and the blatant obviousness of conservative dishonesty and corruption. I feel like the pattern itself and all its concrete examples should be pointed out whenever they try to float these kinds of lies, and contrast the lack of dishonesty of similar magnitude on the left.

Something in me has kinda snapped over this math textbook-”CRT” thing. I wish I could do something about it besides rage impotently here.
posted by Reverend John at 11:06 AM on April 22 [7 favorites]


We have must have attended very different kinds of schools because, for me starting in middle school, math homework was an everyday thing and we did all the problems in the book plus mimeographed worksheets.
posted by LindsayIrene at 11:07 AM on April 22


The NYT has an op-ed on "the culture wars" today, and it points out that Rufo* "has openly said that he hopes to destroy public education in the United States." CRT is just a tactic, along with trans-panic to get people to distrust public schools.

It's a sweet plan to get all those education dollars in the hands of your favorite religious group that no longer wants to teach evolution, or your Koch Enterprise charter school that wants to profit off parents and their families.

*I knew Rufo was behind the CRT nonsense, but I learned the other day that he first introduced it on Tucker "tan your testicles" Carlson's show.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 11:21 AM on April 22 [8 favorites]


You know what this gets down to? An absolute snobbishness from those who went to private school. The term public school to them means the same as when they refer to urban or inner city or Chicago: a hell-hole of gun-wielding bad-asses and ineffective authorities or teachers.

I went to public school and a public university (undergrad) in the western part of the United States. I was shocked when I moved to Washington, DC and went to parties where 30 year olds bragged about what private high school they went to. I imagine some of those institutions were fancy, competent, and expensive, but their behavior seemed so juvenile. And I was smarter than any of them.

So when I hear this, it's just another way of making fun of people for being poor.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:52 PM on April 22 [3 favorites]


We have must have attended very different kinds of schools because, for me starting in middle school, math homework was an everyday thing and we did all the problems in the book plus mimeographed worksheets.

Replace “starting in middle school” with “starting in Grade 1,” and this is my experience, too.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:29 PM on April 22


Mod note: One comment from earlier deleted, just fyi. I have no idea what the words therein were actually meant to convey, but it reeeeaaally did not start off well.
posted by taz (staff) at 1:27 AM on April 24 [2 favorites]


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