DeSantis Bans CRT From K-12 Classrooms Despite Absence From Curriculum

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Friday signed into law a bill that bans educators from teaching Critical Race Theory (CRT) in K-12 classrooms—even though CRT isn't part of the state's public school curriculum.

The anti-CRT legislation, also known as the "Stop W.O.K.E" Act, was passed by lawmakers last month with a section that prohibits teachers from giving lessons that would make students "feel guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress because of actions, in which the person played no part, committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, national origin, or sex."

Even DeSantis acknowledged on Friday that there are no CRT courses in schools and that those types of courses are taught in universities, but claimed that its "principles" are entering kids' education, thus making it an "indoctrination."

"We believe that every single student matters, every single student counts," DeSantis said.

Desantis Bans CRT From K-12 Classrooms
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a bill banning CRT education in K-12 classrooms in Florida's public school system, even though it isn't being taught there. Above, DeSantis leaves after holding a press conference at the Miami Dade College’s North Campus on January 26, 2022, in Miami, Florida. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

"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," he added.

Critical Race Theory is an issue in education that conservatives and liberals are divided on as it tracks racism in America's legal systems and institutions.

DeSantis tweeted Friday that the legislation ends "corporate and educational indoctrination" in Florida, but CRT is not typically taught in K-12 classrooms of public school systems.

However, the state's Department of Education (DOE) rejected a total of 54 out of 132 math textbooks over alleged references to CRT. The books were submitted for state review but were reported to be "impermissible with either Florida's new standards or contained prohibited topics," according to the department.

The Florida DOE said that 28 of those books, which were meant for K-5 grade levels, contained "prohibited topics or unsolicited strategies, including CRT."

"It seems that some publishers attempted to slap a coat of paint on an old house built on the foundation of Common Core, and indoctrinating concepts like race essentialism, especially, bizarrely, for elementary school students," DeSantis said in a statement at the time. "I'm grateful that [Commissioner of Education Richard] Corcoran and his team at the Department have conducted such a thorough vetting of these textbooks to ensure they comply with the law."

The banned books include one that teaches students polynomials and said "What? Me? Racist?" before introducing instructions telling students to work with a mathematical model that had been used by over two million people to test their racial prejudice through the Implicit Association Test.

Another example included material that encourages students to focus on their "social and emotional learning." Similar Emotional Learning material also included building among students "proficiency with social awareness" and "practice with empathizing with classmates."

Newsweek reached out to DeSantis' office and the Florida Department of Education for comment.