Florida has become the lightning rod of liberal media and left-wing grassroots criticism because of their education reforms, either through legislation like the Parental Rights in Education law or through bureaucratic reviews.
Last week, the Florida Department of Education adopted new social studies textbooks that did not include divisive social issues. States usually review textbooks and state education standards every handful of years depending on the state.
Local news outlet WPTV reported that Black Lives Matter activists were offended by the new textbooks’ omission of social and racial injustice topics. The founder of Muck City Black Lives Matter, Robert Mitchell, told the news outlet, “I just see it as an attempt to hide the truth and discount the contributions of Black Americans to the U.S.” He added, “It makes common sense in your textbooks that you would be told, hey, there was a movement called Black Lives Matter… The reason why, there was young men and women being slain and killed unjustifiably.”
Florida’s education commissioner, Manny Diaz, said in a statement, “To uphold our exceptional standards, we must ensure our students and teachers have the highest quality materials available – materials that focus on historical facts and are free from inaccuracies or ideological rhetoric.”
Florida Department of Education removed parts in a proposed middle school textbook that had the heading, “New Calls For Social Justice,” and it went into detail about the Black Lives Matter movement and death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The department said the heading and information were an example of an “unsolicited topic.”
Other removed parts were “a description of socialism” and “a reference to taking a knee during the national anthem in an elementary school textbook.”
The department noted that only 19% of materials were approved, and after giving feedback to publishers about inaccuracies, 66% of material were approved in the end.
But Florida’s review of school textbooks illustrates the importance of reviewing textbooks to remove politically divisive and biased topics. For example, if a textbook includes information about Black Lives Matter, it should include references to the widespread property damage and loss of life from the movement-inspired riots across the country and the organization’s financial scandals (such as how its leaders may have used donor funds to buy expensive real estate properties).