by Reagan Reese
Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom is demanding records from textbook publishers to determine if they have changed any content used in California’s schools to comply with Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ education laws.
The DeSantis’ administration has enacted several laws in the past year prohibiting Critical Race Theory (CRT) and certain lessons on gender identity and sexual orientation from K-12 classrooms. In addition to the textbook companies records, Newsom’s office sent a public records request Saturday to DeSantis’ office and the Florida Department of Education (DOE) asking for all communications between the governor’s administration and the textbook publishers relating to revisions made to content to ensure compliance with the Florida education laws.
“California will not be complicit in Florida’s attempt to whitewash history through laws and backroom deals; parents have a right to know what’s happening in the dark to undermine our children’s education — and California deserves to know whether any of these companies designing textbooks for our state’s classrooms are the same ones kowtowing to Florida’s extremist agenda,” Newsom’s letter stated.
The Florida DOE rejected nearly one-third of social studies textbooks proposed for the 2023-2024 school year because the material contained CRT or social emotional learning content, a learning method that has been criticized for being the gateway to CRT, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
The African-American Experience, one of the books rejected by the Florida DOE, details police brutality and Black Lives Matter protests, according to the Tampa Bay Times. In January, the state DOE rejected an AP African American Studies course because it contained tenets of CRT and a lesson on queer theory.
The DeSantis administration has made moves to regulate what is taught in state classrooms; in April 2022, DeSantis signed HB 7 into law, prohibiting educators from teaching students any topic, such as CRT, that will result in student’s feeling guilt or shame on the basis of their race. On May 17, DeSantis signed a piece of legislation into law prohibiting lessons taught on gender identity and sexual orientation in PreK-8 classrooms.
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