Florida Warns Against CRT, 'Social Justice' in Social Studies Textbooks

Florida's Department of Education is requesting book publishers to keep critical race theory (CRT) and "social justice" out of K-12 social studies textbooks as part of its controversial new teaching standards.

In newly issued guidance for the 2022-2023 school year, the state also asked publishers to avoid any "culturally responsive teaching, social and emotional learning, and any other unsolicited theories." The request comes amid a push from Republican Governor Ron DeSantis' administration to crack down on public school curriculum, particularly as it relates to race and gender.

In its guidance, the department refers to CRT as a theory that "distorts historical events," and notes that "social justice is closely aligned to CRT."

CRT is an analytical framework developed by legal scholars that describes how race, class, gender and sexuality affect American life, and how racial injustice has been a systemic issue in U.S. history. The framework, which is typically taught at a graduate level, has gained significant political attention in the past year, with opponents arguing that it teaches students to harbor guilt or hate toward the country.

Ron DeSantis
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' administration is cracking down on critical race theory (CRT) and "social justice" concepts in social studies books. Above, DeSantis is seen on April 9 in Jacksonville, Florida. James Gilbert/Getty Images

"Instructional materials should not attempt to indoctrinate or persuade students to a viewpoint inconsistent with Florida standards," the education department wrote in its guidance. Textbook publishers have until June 10 to submit social studies proposals to the state, Politico reported Friday.

The guidance also said that social studies books may not utilize material from The New York Times' 1619 Project, which "aims to reframe the country's history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of our national narrative," according to the publication.

It adds that issues of "privilege" or "oppression" should not be discussed as being "necessarily determined by race, color, sex or national origin." The education department is also seeking to prevent social emotional learning (SEL) from being taught, which aims to help students manage their emotions and develop strong relationships with peers.

"SEL in instructional materials are considered extraneous, unsolicited strategies prohibited in the specifications for the texts and are not part of the subject-area standards," the education department stated.

The guidance for social studies books also comes as Florida recently rejected dozens of math textbooks over alleged references to CRT. A total of 54 out of 132 math books recently submitted for state review last month were found to be "impermissible" with the state's standards. It marked the highest number of rejected textbooks in the state's history.

Florida's recent crackdown on school curriculum has been met with sharp criticism from Democrats, who have accused the state of limiting classroom discussion and withholding important instructional concepts. The state has also come under fire over its "Don't Say Gay" bill, which prohibits classroom discussion "about sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grade levels or in a specified manner."

CRT has never actually been part of the Florida's public school curriculum, however DeSantis has led a crusade against the framework by claiming that its "principles" are entering kids' education, thus making it an "indoctrination."

"We are not going to categorize you based on your race. We are not gonna tell some kindergartener that they're an oppressor based on their race and what may have happened 100 or 200 years ago. And we're not gonna tell other kids that they're oppressed based on their race," the governor said last month.

Newsweek has reached out to Florida's Department of Education for comment.