The Florida Department of Education recently advised textbook publishers to avoid including critical race theory (CRT) and other social justice issues that the state deems inconsistent with its beliefs. As the guidance extends to all types of textbooks, including those for math, science and other subjects not related to social studies, the move begs the question of whether teachers may be prosecuted for even mentioning CRT in their classrooms.
Scores of impermissible books
Florida has already received copious amounts of attention for rejecting cores of books that it says are impermissible according to its education law. State officials have indicated that all instructional materials should not contain viewpoints inconsistent with Florida standards on race and social issues. Additionally, social studies lessons must follow the “Stop WOKE Act,” which prohibits schools and businesses from leveling guilt based on race or sex and issues such as “white privilege.”
Social-emotional learning is another idea that the state has indicated that public schools should avoid. This curriculum type seeks to teach students to manage emotions, develop relationships, and foster social awareness.
These issues have come under scrutiny in the U.S. Congress, which has held hearings on curriculum sabotage and classroom censorship. Under these rules, teachers could be prevented from presenting such theories, even if they bring in their own materials, thus raising the possibility of dismissals and lawsuits.
Can Florida prosecute me for teaching critical race theory?
In essence, public school districts may be able to threaten teachers with dismissal and other actions if they don’t abide by the state’s rules. However, with national officials looking into the civil rights and liberties issues regarding Florida’s law, teachers may have valid reasons for lawsuits if they are unduly dismissed because of their educational beliefs.
Parents may also have rights in this controversy if they can prove that their children did not receive an adequate education as a result of inadequate and possibly outdated teaching materials supplied to their schools. Free speech issues may also be involved in any lawsuits that may arise.