Grumpy Old Teacher (GOT) supposes that, as a math teacher in Florida, he ought to say something about the late Friday media release from the Department of Education about all the proposed textbooks that they refused to approve for … well, reasons.
GOT won’t bother to post links as the news is all over the internet, the media, and all forms of [un]social media.
No one knows the details because the outgoing Commissioner of Education, Richard Corcoran, refuses to provide them. However, GOT knows that at least one FOI request has been made for the Department to identify the texts, the reason it was rejected, and the page numbers that have the offending material.
First, let’s get out of the way that the Department could have legitimate reasons for rejecting a text, namely, that the publisher was too lazy or cheap to pay someone to actually edit an existing text but tried to slap new standards onto an old book.
Back in Rick Scott’s day, when he tried the ‘I’m-a getting rid of the nasty Common Core’ stunt, textbook publishers responded by relabeling the MACC.#### standards as MAFL.####. Otherwise, the books didn’t change.
Now, as DeSantis trods the same worn floorboards on the stage, his stunt is to shuffle a few things, rebrand with a new acronym B.E.S.T., and yell like Tarzan as he smacks his chest. In this case, Florida dropped the two letters and went with MA.####.
For a working classroom teacher, one beyond the bewildering maze of [non]mentoring programs that provide little help unless the rookie teacher gets lucky with the assigned mentor, because what these programs really do is saddle a new teacher with ungodly amounts of extra paperwork to do, the textbooks are superfluous.
Shall we get one thing completely clear? The standards don’t mean jack, the textbooks are a best guess at providing curriculum guidance, and the tests rule all.
“What gets tested is what gets taught.” Never forget that.
New standards mean new tests. Scores drop. But then, given a couple years, teachers figure it out and scores begin to rise. Teachers spend unpaid hours at night and on weekends searching for or creating the content needed for students to pass the test that the textbooks left out.
How do teachers know what they need to do? Ha, ha, ha, that’s a trade secret.
Suffice it to say that textbooks have holes when it comes to meeting the testing expectations.
But these textbook bans went beyond that, citing inappropriate inclusions of “CRT” and “SEL” but providing no details.
Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post gives a good rundown of what’s taking place. The link is behind the paywall, so if you don’t have a WaPo subscription, you’ll have to track GOT down on Twitter (@sampsongregory) because he is gifting the article.
How does a math textbook run afoul of the imperatives issuing forth from the mouth of the Tallahassee popinjay? Was it the word problems? Did the book include statistics of real-world (ha, ha, do you see what GOT is doing here?) examples of systemic racism like black vs. white arrest statistics?
Or was it random? Like the annual announcement of test results, in which Florida’s Department of Education has a narrative to maintain and will manipulate the scores until they achieve the desired narrative, was this merely another salvo in the badly-disguised 2024 presidential campaign of the governor to gin up the base?
We’ll never know. But the governor is tired of teachers supplementing the approved textbook with materials of their own. He has new laws for that, too.
All we’re missing are the attorney TV ads: Teachers! Being sued by parents over your lessons? Call 1-800-JOB-GONE! Our fees are reasonable and no, they are not conditional. You don’t have a prayer of prevailing in court.