Current Events Trivia: Rejected Florida textbooks


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a Jerusalem Post conference at the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem on April 27, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Mark Zimmerman, Special To The Jewish Light

Recently, the ‍Florida ‍Department ‍of ‍Education ‍announced ‍that ‍they ‍had ‍rejected ‍more ‍than ‍30 ‍social ‍studies ‍textbooks ‍and ‍worked ‍with ‍publishers ‍to ‍make ‍changes ‍to ‍more ‍than ‍45 ‍other ‍textbooks. ‍The ‍announcement ‍is ‍in ‍line ‍with ‍efforts ‍by ‍Governor ‍Ron ‍DeSantis ‍and ‍the ‍Florida ‍legislature ‍and ‍Department ‍of ‍Education ‍to ‍ensure ‍that ‍textbooks ‍do ‍not ‍include ‍what ‍the ‍leadership ‍considers ‍inappropriate ‍subjects ‍(such ‍as ‍race ‍and ‍gender ‍identity), ‍or ‍topics ‍which ‍might ‍make ‍students ‍feel ‍“guilt ‍or ‍anguish” ‍for ‍past ‍actions ‍committed ‍by ‍their ‍race.

Florida ‍Education ‍Commissioner ‍Manny ‍Diaz ‍Jr. ‍stated ‍that ‍their ‍goal ‍is ‍to ‍include ‍materials ‍“that ‍focus ‍on ‍historical ‍facts ‍and ‍are ‍free ‍from ‍inaccuracies ‍or ‍ideological ‍rhetoric.” ‍

Opponents ‍of ‍this ‍oversight ‍argue ‍the ‍new ‍rules ‍are ‍politically ‍motivated, ‍preventing ‍students ‍from ‍learning ‍about ‍and ‍discussing ‍important ‍and ‍serious ‍themes ‍such ‍as ‍racism ‍and ‍race ‍relations, ‍sex ‍education, ‍and ‍other ‍topics.

‍One ‍book ‍that ‍was ‍rejected ‍was ‍“Modern ‍Genocides,” ‍a ‍book ‍that ‍teaches ‍about ‍the ‍Holocaust ‍and ‍other ‍examples ‍of ‍genocide. ‍The ‍reasoning ‍is ‍not ‍clear, ‍though ‍it ‍is ‍said ‍that ‍the ‍book ‍included ‍discussion ‍of ‍disallowed ‍“special ‍topics,” ‍a ‍vague ‍standard ‍that ‍includes ‍“critical ‍race ‍theory,” ‍“culturally ‍responsive ‍teaching,” ‍and ‍“social ‍emotional ‍learning.” ‍

Another ‍book ‍that ‍was ‍rejected ‍was ‍a ‍social ‍studies ‍book ‍for ‍middle ‍school ‍students ‍about ‍the ‍Hebrew ‍Bible, ‍which ‍the ‍Board ‍said ‍contained ‍“politically ‍charged ‍language.” ‍

What ‍question ‍asked ‍in ‍the ‍book ‍was ‍not ‍acceptable ‍to ‍the ‍Board ‍of ‍Education?

  1. “The Hebrew Bible refers to the Israelites as the Chosen People. Abraham Lincoln referred to Americans as the Almighty’s ‘almost chosen people.’ In what way are the Chosen Israelites similar to Americans?”
  2. “What social justice issues are included in the Hebrew Bible?”
  3. “What does the Hebrew Bible mean when it refers to loving your neighbor as yourself? How do we reconcile that with our relationship to dictatorships in the world?”
  4. “How is the slavery of the Israelites in Egypt the same or different than the enslavement of Blacks in America prior to the Emancipation Proclamation?”

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