DeSantis Names The Enemy Of The GOP: Students Learning Critical Thinking

A little background on the latest from the fascist Floridian who would be presidente. Last week, Ron DeSantis and his state Department of Education announced that they had rejected 26 math textbooks for including "prohibited content." DeSantis and his cronies claim that the math text books were part of a "woke" plot to "indoctrinate" students with "dangerous and divisive" ideas, including Critical Race Theory. DeSantis has adamantly refused to let anyone see the textbooks or examples of the so-called indoctrination. There is a dire need to investigate this not just because the little fascist shit is a liar-- "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"-- but because only one Republican-connected Texas-based text book company is eligible for Florida's massively lucrative textbook market.

Aside from opposing students learning about gays and race, DeSantis and his henchmen are carrying on about "Social-Emotional Learning," which is the enemy of conservatives since its essence is, according to Legum, teaching "the development of "critical thinking, emotion management, conflict resolution, decision making, [and] teamwork"-- skills that are necessary for students to excel in school and in life. The term dates back to a 1997 book but the concept of character development dates back at least to Benjamin Franklin in the mid-1700s. If students learn critical thinking, the Republican Party would soon shrink into nothing but the Ku Klux Klan.

Judd Legum and his Popular Information team found 8 of the 54 rejected textbooks. "CRT is a graduate-level academic framework which explores how 'laws, policies, and procedures that function to produce racial inequality,' wrote Legum. This is sometimes referred to as 'structural racism.' It is not something you typically find discussed in a K-12 math textbook... Popular Information... obtained 8 of the 26 math textbooks rejected by Florida for 'prohibited topics,' including textbooks for elementary, middle, and high school students. We then scrutinized these textbooks for any mention of race, emotion, or related topics. What we found bears no resemblance to the alarming assertions of Florida officials... There was no discussion of race, racism, or anything that could be construed as related to CRT in any of the textbooks. While the vast majority of the textbooks focused on basic math skills, they also encouraged students to reflect on how they learn and work with their classmates. In general, the textbooks encouraged young students to be nice to each other and themselves. "

One of the rejected textbooks (for 8th grad math) includes short write-ups of mathematicians from throughout history. "Apparently the book was rejected for including two African American mathematicians-- Elbert Frank Cox, the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics, and Dorothy Johnson Vaughan, an African American mathematician who led a NASA unit." There were also white and Asian mathematicians and in no way is this related to critical race theory, although racist swine like DeSantis could object to blacks being included. Learning about famous mathematicians is not a form of indoctrination.

This morning, the NY Times reported on their own review of 21 of the textbooks DeSantis banned. Dana Goldstein and Stephenie Saul wrote that "In most of the books, there was little that touched on race, never mind an academic framework like critical race theory. But many of the textbooks included social-emotional learning content, a practice with roots in psychological research that tries to help students develop mind-sets that can support academic success. The image below, from marketing materials provided by the company Big Ideas Learning-- whose elementary textbooks Florida rejected-- features one common way teachers are trained to think about social-emotional learning."

The diagram names core skills students should develop, and gives an example of how to conquer fear and build self-confidence.

The circular diagram names the five core skills students should develop: self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, social awareness and relationship building. This framework was developed by CASEL, an education nonprofit.

Until recently, the idea of building social-emotional skills was a fairly uncontroversial one in American education. Research suggests that students with these skills earn higher test scores.
But right-wing activists like Chris Rufo, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, have sought to tie social-emotional learning to the broader debate over the teaching of race, gender and sexuality in classrooms.
In a March interview conducted over email, Mr. Rufo stated that while social-emotional learning sounds “positive and uncontroversial” in theory, “in practice, SEL serves as a delivery mechanism for radical pedagogies such as critical race theory and gender deconstructionism.”
“The intention of SEL,” he continued, “is to soften children at an emotional level, reinterpret their normative behavior as an expression of ‘repression,’ ‘whiteness,’ or ‘internalized racism,’ and then rewire their behavior according to the dictates of left-wing ideology.”
Mr. Rufo also raised concerns that social-emotional learning requires teachers “to serve as psychologists, which they are not equipped to do.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida has spoken more generally about social-emotional learning as a distraction, in his view, from math itself.
“Math is about getting the right answer,” he said at a Monday news conference, adding, “It’s not about how you feel about the problem.”
Stephanie Jones, a developmental psychologist and expert on social-emotional learning at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, disagreed.
“Feelings arise all the time-- they arise when we’re doing work at our offices, and when kids are learning things,” she said. “It makes sense to try and engage those feelings or grapple with them in order to be more effective at the thing we’re doing.”
...Over the past year, as Republican Party activists increasingly focused on what they call the excesses of progressive education, social-emotional learning came under fire.
In June 2021, the Florida Department of Education sent a memo to the publishers of math textbooks, advising them not to include “social-emotional learning and culturally responsive teaching” in their materials.
Timothy Dohrer, director of teacher leadership at Northwestern University, called that “shortsighted” and said research showed that incorporating social-emotional learning into texts helped students learn social skills.
“If you asked 100 C.E.O.s what skills they want in a new hire, the top five skills are going to be about social-emotional learning-- not algebra,” he said.
“Are you a nice person to talk to? Are you going to be a good co-worker?” Professor Dohrer added. “We know that the best way to teach that is to combine it with math, social studies, whatever.”
Professor Dohrer said that, despite its importance, social-emotional learning has become wrapped up in a debate about critical race theory, which is generally not taught in K-12 schools but has become an object of alarm among those attacking efforts to teach a more critical history of race in America.
“SEL has no connection to critical race theory,” he said, “and yet it is being connected at local school board levels and local communities as well as in the national dialogue.”
There are few references to race throughout these math textbooks, though publishers often took care to include word problems with ethnically diverse names and foods like empanadas.
...Vincent Forese, president of the Tampa-based publisher Link-Systems International, which submitted curriculums for three high school math subjects that were turned down for reasons unrelated to social-emotional learning or critical race theory, questioned why the state made a splashy announcement that books had been rejected.
“I’m not sure what the value proposition of making an announcement like that is other than there’s political value in it,” he said.

Yes, precisely-- DeSantis and his handmaidens are politicizing schools and learning and everything else... including theme parks, cruise ships and DisneyWorld. Please click here and consider helping Florida progressives who oppose his extremist agenda and will fight to defeat him in November... and in 2024. We've got to stop this guy... He's actually worse than Trump, if that's even conceivable! This afternoon, Disney enthusiast and former Orlando congressman-- now running for Rubio's Senate seat-- told me that "When DeSantis ran for Governor, most people thought of him as an inept Trump wannabe. Now they realize that what he really wants to be is a Trump clone, a person with power who always chooses wrong over right."