Ron DeSantis' Team Defend Rejecting 'CRT Math Textbooks,' Share Examples

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' press secretary has defended the rejection of dozens of math textbooks over alleged references to critical race theory.

On Friday, the Florida Department of Education said it had rejected 54 out of 132 math textbooks that it described as publishers' "attempts to indoctrinate students."

The department said the rejected textbooks were found to be "impermissible with either Florida's new standards or contained prohibited topics," including critical race theory, an increasingly controversial topic in many parts of the U.S.

Critical race theory is an academic framework developed by legal scholars that examines history through the lens of racism and which some conservatives say should not be taught in schools, arguing that such discussion can create division. Liberals say that amounts to censorship and an attempt to shut down all discussion of race and racism.

News of Florida's rejection of the textbooks sparked a social media backlash, with State Rep. Carlos Smith, a Democrat, tweeting that DeSantis was "hysterically pulling math books outta FL schools claiming they 'indoctrinate' kids with CRT."

Smith added: "This isn't just crazy right-wing pandering— next they'll spend MILLIONS of tax dollars forcing schools to buy math books from GOP campaign donors."

Florida officials did not provide a list of the rejected textbooks or provide examples of how they contained references to CRT.

But DeSantis' press secretary Christina Pushaw on Saturday hit back at the criticism by tweeting a photo of a math assignment that had been handed out to students in a Missouri public school district earlier this year.

The assignment included a question that asked if the late poet Maya Angelou had been "sexually abused by her mother's" boyfriend, brother or father.

Another question asked if she had "worked as a pimp, prostitute" and bookie, drug dealer or night club dancer to support her son as a single mother.

"How does this help kids learn algebra, exactly?" Pushaw wrote. "No wonder China is winning..."

In another tweet, she added: "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? I promise you, in China kids aren't learning about pimping in math class."

Some Twitter users questioned how learning about Angelou was critical race theory.

One wrote: "Are you seriously saying that learning about Maya Angelou falls under the category of critical race theory?!!???!!"

Another said: "This is not CRT. This is African American history."

Pushaw has been contacted for further comment.

DeSantis has welcomed the rejection of the math textbooks.

"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," he said in a statement.

"I'm grateful that Commissioner Corcoran and his team at the Department have conducted such a thorough vetting of these textbooks to ensure they comply with the law."

Florida's Board of Education announced last year that it would ban the teaching of CRT in public schools—even though it had not been part of the state's curriculum before.

 Florida governor Ron DeSantis
Florida governor Ron DeSantis is seen in attendance during the UFC 273 event at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on April 09, 2022 in Jacksonville, Florida. James Gilbert/Getty Images