The Orlando Sentinel reported today that the State Education Department had rejected 35% of the social studies textbooks submitted for review because of leftist content. The DeSantis administration objects to any references to “social justice” or negative references to capitalism.

Leslie Postal of the Sentinel wrote:

Florida rejected 35% of the social studies textbooks publishers hoped to sell to public schools this year and forced others to delete or change passages state leaders disliked, including references to “why some citizens are choosing to ‘Take a Knee’ to protest police brutality” and “new calls for social justice” after the death of George Floyd.

A press release from the Florida Department of Education on Tuesday said 66 of 101 textbooks submitted have been approved, many after making changes the state demanded. On April 6, the department gave approval to only 19 of the books but then worked for the past month to get publishers to update their texts.

The goal was “materials that focus on historical facts and are free from inaccuracies or ideological rhetoric,” said Education Commissioner Manny Diaz in a statement.

The textbooks are for elementary and middle school social studies classes as well as civics, economics, U.S. history and world history courses.

In addition to social justice topics, some of the textbooks initially rejected failed to accurately describe communism and socialism, the department said, and those passages were revamped to emphasize the negatives of both economic systems…

The process became highly political a year ago, however, when the state initially rejected 42 math textbooks, a historic number, and touted the news with a press release that said, “Florida Rejects Publishers’ Attempts to Indoctrinate Students.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration sounded a similar alarm Tuesday.

“The political indoctrination of children through the K-12 public education system is a very real and prolific problem in this country,” tweeted Bryan Griffin, DeSantis’ press secretary. “Just look at some of these examples from textbooks submitted this year to @EducationFL.”

Griffin highlighted a passage from a middle school textbook that described a socialist economy as one that “keeps things nice and even and without unnecessary waste.” The passage went on to say, “These societies may promote greater equality among people while still providing a fully functioning government-supervised economy.”

The department did not indicate what textbook included that passage but shared the new version about “planned economies” that replaced the one about socialist economies. The new passage reads, “Critics say these planned economies have slow development and fewer technological advances” in part because they limit “human incentive. In other words, why do anything if the government is eventually going to do it for you?”

The other examples the department shared included two related to social justice, police brutality and racism. The elementary school textbook that mentioned people taking a knee during the National Anthem as a form of protest was deleted as “not age appropriate,” the department said. So was a passage from a middle school book that discussed “new calls for social justice, including the formation of the Black Lives Matter group and the protests after the killing of Floyd, a Black man, by a white police officer.”

The department also disliked that a middle school textbook about the Holocaust asked, “What social justice issues are included in the Hebrew Bible?” The line was changed to “What are some of the key principles included in the Hebrew Bible?”

The DeSantis’ administration last year claimed the math books contained critical race theory, the idea that racism is embedded in American institutions, and other unacceptable topics such as social emotional learning and culturally responsive learning.

DeSantis and other Republicans argue CRT aims to make white children feel guilty and to teach children to hate the United States and that, while traditionally a graduate school topic, its tenets have seeped into K-12 classrooms. The Legislature last year passed what the governor dubbed his “stop woke” act that outlaws the teaching of the concept in public schools.

Opponents of DeSantis’ efforts argued the real aim was to prevent children from learning about tough topics such as slavery and racial discrimination and said they feared it would lead to a whitewashing of history.

Most of those who reviewed the math textbooks — math teachers and professors — found nothing objectionable in the texts, with only three of about 70 reviewers raising concerns about CRT. Eventually, many of the rejected books were approved after making some changes. The three reviewers who raised questions about the math textbooks were a member of the conservative Moms for Liberty group and two people affiliated with the Hillsdale College, a conservative Christian school in Michigan aligned with the DeSantis administration.

The math book rejections stunned school district administrators, who had already made plans to purchase the rejected textbooks — which were part of a longer list first posted to the education department’s website. As they typically do, committees of teachers and curriculum experts reviewed the books before recommending which ones should be purchased and had not found material they found objectionable.

The districts needed to buy new math textbooks last year and new social studies textbooks this year to make sure their instructional materials match with new state standards for those subjects.

Mindful of what happened last year, Orange County Public Schools decided to select both first and second-choice options for new social studies books this year. The Orange County School Board approved its list of recommended books April 25, but the district has not yet made any purchases, which could cost more than $21 million.

The social studies textbooks OCPS selected as its top choice for elementary schools is on the rejected list the education department released Tuesday. The district could go with its second-choice option, which is approved, or wait to see if the other wins approval in the coming weeks.