As DeSantis administration rejects textbooks, only one publisher allowed for K-5 math classes in Florida

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Historically, when Florida school districts reevaluate which math instructional materials they will use, they have had more than one publisher to choose from.

Now, the only publisher approved by Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Education for K-5 mathematics is Accelerate Learning, a company out of Houston, Texas.

“In the subject area as large as mathematics for grades K through five, it is unusual for there only to be one publisher to choose from," said Billy Epting, assistant superintendent for academic services for Leon County Schools.

For subscribers: Florida schools grapple with questions after state rejects historic number of math books

Back story: Florida nixes dozens of math textbooks over critical race theory, Common Core standards

The Florida DOE rejected more than 50 mathematics textbooks — about 40% of those submitted — for failing to meet Florida’s new learning standards or because they “contained prohibited topics” that included references to critical race theory.

For regular math classes, Accelerate Learning's STEMscopes Florida Math books are the only option for school districts.

There are two more publisher options for accelerated math, McGraw Hill LLC and Savvas Learning Company LLC, formerly known as Pearson K12 Learning LLC.

DOE said more than half the textbooks being disallowed incorporated “prohibited topics or unsolicited strategies, including CRT,” while others were not allowed because publishers “rebranded” Common Core Standards.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed what opponents call the "Don't Say Gay" bill at a Pasco County charter school
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed what opponents call the "Don't Say Gay" bill at a Pasco County charter school

More: DeSantis' 'Stop WOKE' Act could force Florida businesses to rethink diversity training

According to the Accelerate Learning's website, the math book for Florida was "built from the ground up to the Florida B.E.S.T. by practicing educators using the flexible 5E lesson model."

The K-5 math books were also created in partnership with Rice University.

DeSantis has taken a lead role nationally in Republican efforts to aggressively push back against liberal cultural values and what he calls “woke indoctrination.”

A measure labeled “Individual Freedom,” also known as the "Stop WOKE Act," was passed during this year's legislative session and still waits for the governor's signature.

The legislation (HB 7) prohibits any teaching that could make students feel they bear personal responsibility for historic wrongs because of their race, color, sex or national origin.

More: From pandemic heroes to political targets: Teachers fear new limits on class discussions

In workplaces, employment practices or training programs that cause an individual to feel guilty for similar reasons could be considered an unlawful employment practice and subject a company to a lawsuit as a civil rights violation.

Accelerate Learning's website includes an undated diversity statement which says the company commits to hold more diversity training, examine current business and recruitment practices and continue to be inclusive in all levels of the company.

"Our nation’s black communities have long faced the repeated, harmful effects of systemic racism within the justice and education systems," the statement said.

The company also matched all employee donations to the NAACP, Black Lives Matter and Equal Justice organizations.

"Accelerate Learning, Inc. is committed to supporting diversity in all its manifestations, which requires a consequent commitment to equity and inclusivity," the statement said.

The Carlyle Group, a global investment firm, acquired Accelerate Learning on Dec. 20, 2018, according to the firm's website.

During that time, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin was the co-CEO of the firm. After 25 years with the company, Youngkin resigned in 2020 to run for office in Virginia.

The first thing Youngkin did as governor of Virginia was sign an executive order to "end the use of inherently divisive concepts, including critical race theory, and restoring excellence in K-12 public education in the commonwealth," a measure that's comparable to DeSantis' "Stop WOKE Act."

Youngkin is a 1990 graduate of Rice University and majored in mechanical engineering and managerial studies, according to the university's student newspaper The Rice Thresher.

Contact Ana Goñi-Lessan at and follow her on Twitter @goni_lessan.

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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: DeSantis rejects textbooks, one publisher allowed for K-5 math classes