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Florida rejected dozens of math textbooks. Now some districts may need to shift plans

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After a high-profile announcement about rejecting math textbooks submitted for adoption by the state, Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Education are providing few details about how the books violated state academic standards.

The textbooks need to be ordered as soon as possible to have them in time for teacher training, said one Manatee County official.

Right now, school districts are gearing up to order teaching materials for next year, but some of those plans may have to be placed on the back burner.

Last week, the Florida Department of Education rejected a record 41% (54 of 132) of the math textbooks submitted for next school year.

A Department statement said the rejected books weren't up to state standards or included "prohibited topics" or "unsolicited strategies, including [critical race theory]."

Now, at least one of Tampa Bay's school districts may have to shift curriculum plans.

Dan Evans, the Deputy Superintendent of Instruction for Manatee County Schools, said fifth grade math and algebra two materials for the coming year were rejected.

The books aren't on the way yet, Evans said, but the selections are usually ordered in April or May.

"It is our hope that the materials our teachers, leaders, and community members have selected are available to us,” he said. “I think we're going to hold out for now, let the process play out. And then hopefully, we'll move quickly enough that we can order the materials in May and still get them in time for the school year."

Evans said some vendors are appealing the rejection, which he hopes will be reversed. The district intends to use materials from the state's approved list.

See the list of rejected books: DeSantis offers few specifics on math textbooks that have been rejected by the state

But the timing of the decision presents a challenge as the summer approaches, he added.

"This year it's particularly important that we order early because we're not just getting new books, we're getting new books aligned to new standards,” he said. “So we would want the books in time for summer training of our teachers.”

Training begins once the school year is over, taking place over the course of June and July. Evans said any delay in selecting books beyond the usual dates means there's no guarantee of when they might arrive.

In Hillsborough County, officials said the district’s academic services team is currently reviewing the list with the publishers.

Bailey LeFever is a reporter focusing on education and health in the greater Tampa Bay region.