Social Studies

Florida Wanted Changes to Social Studies Books. Here’s a Sample of the Revisions

By Ileana Najarro & Gina Tomko — May 23, 2023 1 min read
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When textbook publishers submitted social studies instructional materials for approval by the Florida department of education—for districts to then purchase with state funds—they faced a new, confusing set of rules.

Namely, compared to the last adoption cycle of social studies textbooks in 2016-17, the state now has a law restricting how topics of race and gender can be taught in K-12 schools. Specifications sent to publishers by state officials emphasized the importance of not defying the new law, though they didn’t provide clear guidelines and definitions, according to some experts.

When state officials initially began approving social studies textbooks for districts to purchase with state funding in April, they could only approve 19 of the 101 submitted titles, according to a press release.

The rest included “inaccurate material, errors and other information that was not aligned with Florida law,” officials said.

Since then, the Florida department of education worked with publishers to make edits, resulting in a total of 66 books approved by May 9, with more than 30 rejected. Though not all of the edited Florida textbooks will be found in other states, some experts and state leaders are already concerned about what the state’s process says about the scope and impact of laws restricting how to teach about race and other topics.

Full details as to what led to the rejections and even the edits made in others remain unclear.

Some rejected titles were listed by the state as including “special topics” though with not much further detail.

Gateway to Early American History with Revised Civics and Government Standards Advanced, 2022, 1st Edition of Florida Transformative Education appears on the state’s rejected list though it isn’t listed as having “special topics.”

Author and publisher, Mark Jarrett had other submissions approved, but for this one, he said, “We have not been asked to remove anything found in this resource. I don’t believe there was any controversial content at all.”

Jarrett said he plans to resubmit this title for consideration, and cites the following example of the feedback he received from the state:

Some of the reviewers thought we had not covered the Articles of Confederation satisfactorily. In fact, we have four pages in this book/program for middle school students describing the main points of the Articles of Confederation and identifying their weaknesses. Then we have a separate section looking at the United States under the Articles, in which we discuss both the Northwest Ordinance and Shays’ Rebellion. We also placed the Articles in context by comparing a confederation with a federation and a unitary state—a comparison that seventh grade students in Florida are required to make during their study of civics and government. The section ends with the meeting at Annapolis, when the representatives of a handful of states called for an assembly of delegates to be held in Philadelphia the following year to revise the Articles.

For this particular standard, we intend to point out where this standard is already covered in our materials. Perhaps the reviewers missed this text or perhaps the page numbers listed in our correlation chart were erroneous. In other cases, we may decide to add new text.

The state meanwhile provided samples of edited text in other submissions but did not clarify which textbooks they are from, nor provide any additional details.

Here are some of those samples:


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