New Florida social studies textbooks omit some recent social issues

Activist calls it ‘attempt to hide the truth’

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Students across Florida will be getting some new social studies textbooks for the upcoming school year — but they will be missing some recent social issues.

The new books are part of an adoption process that happens routinely every few years. But this year, there is more controversy, and it’s because of laws passed in the state regulating what can be taught in the classroom.

In 2020, Black Lives Matter and social justice rallies popped up all over South Florida and all over the country. But a lesson on them was removed from a social studies textbook for Florida students.

“I just see it as an attempt to hide the truth and discount the contributions of Black Americans to the U.S.,” Robert Mitchell said.

Mitchell is the founder of Muck City Black Lives Matter in the Glades.

“It makes common sense in your textbooks that you would be told, ‘Hey, there was a movement called Black Lives Matter.’ The reason why: there were young men and women being slain and killed unjustifiably,” he said.

The Florida Department of Education shared it as one example of material publishers had to change before their books could be accepted and schools could purchase them.

The paragraphs in a potential middle school textbook were under the heading “New Calls for Social Justice,” detailing the Black Lives Matter movement and the killing of George Floyd. It was regarded as an “unsolicited topic.”

Other removed content included a description of socialism and a reference to taking a knee during the national anthem in an elementary school textbook.

“To uphold our exceptional standards, we must ensure our students and teachers have the highest quality materials available, materials that focus on historical facts and are free from inaccuracies or ideological rhetoric,” Manny Diaz, who heads the Florida Department of Education, said.

State education leaders say when materials were first submitted, only 19% were approved. After working with publishers to remove content, the state called inaccurate or not aligned with Florida law, 66% of material was approved.

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Five-time Emmy Award-winning newscaster Calvin Hughes anchors WPLG-Local 10's 4, 5, 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts.