It’s been proven time and again that critical race theory (CRT) isn’t taught in K-12 public schools, but the idea that it does continues to live rent free in the minds of many.
Republicans continue to find ways to twist anything that may have to do with race into CRT. In addition to the war on CRT, there’s also a war on social-emotional learning and LGBTQ issues happening at the same time.
The latest example of their obsession with these issues comes from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. This isn’t surprising since DeSantis seems to be auditioning to be the next Donald Trump but worse. In the latest installment of culture wars, Florida’s education department rejected 54 (41%) out of 132 mathematics textbooks. The books are from respected publishers such as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and McGraw Hill. If you’ve ever been to school in these United States, chances are you’ve come across a book by one of these publishers or both. For generations these books glossed over, minimized, ignored or provided incomplete information on American history as it pertained to Black people. Now, as we push for the complete story to be told in all its truth, these stories can’t be told because it might make some children feel uncomfortable. I’ll say again for those in the back of the room: No one cared about making Black children, poor children, Native American children, etc. feel bad. I thought we didn’t want a country of snowflakes, so when did feelings matter?
CRT isn’t the only reason some of the books were rejected. Books related to Common Core also were rejected. Some books were rejected for multiple reasons.
I’m paying attention to this issue because we know CRT was a hot button issue until a few weeks ago. It probably still is, but since the legislative session is over, we haven’t heard as much about it. I’m sure the topic will come up again soon, especially since the primary election is near.
To drive home the point of how CRT is taught in schools, Christina Pushaw, a spokesperson for DeSantis, referred to math homework from a public school in Missouri — not Florida — that asked questions about Maya Angelou’s history as a prostitute and pimp. Not knowing much about this lesson, I can see the potential to be problematic.
However, the school district said the homework wasn’t part of the official curriculum. So why are we even discussing it? Because it gets people emotionally charged. And emotionally charged people don’t listen — or think clearly.
“So instead of having a hissy fit because @GovRonDeSantis banned CRT math textbooks, ask yourself why CRT is being injected in math instruction to begin with?” Pushaw tweeted, “I promise you, in China kids aren’t learning about pimping in math class.”
How does Pushaw know what kids in China are taught? Who is she talking to?
I’m willing to bet the lessons that include CRT and/or social-emotional learning aren’t the reason the children in America lag behind so many other countries. If we are serious about not only closing the education gap in this country as well as catching up and surpassing other countries, we’d stop using the education of our children as a political football.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 30 countries performed better at the high school level in the Program for International Assessment (PISA) than the United States. Millennials in the workforce tied for last on math and problem-solving tests compared to millennials in the workforces of other industrialized countries. We have a problem that’s bigger than CRT and social-emotional learning.
“Math is about getting the answer right, and we want kids to learn to think so they get the answer right,” DeSantis said.
I couldn’t agree more.
We want the same from politicians — not leaders who grandstand and pontificate for political theater.