Friday, March 17, 2023


Yesterday The New York Times reported that the state of Florida, which has already vetted math textbooks for "wokeness," is now in the process of examining textbooks in social science.
In the last few months, as part of the review process, a small army of state experts, teachers, parents and political activists have combed thousands of pages of text — not only evaluating academic content, but also flagging anything that could hint, for instance, at critical race theory.

A prominent conservative education group, whose members volunteered to review textbooks, objected to a slew of them, accusing publishers of “promoting their bias.” At least two publishers declined to participate altogether.
The process has textbook companies so intimidated that one submitted a version of a textbook in which Rosa Parks's race isn't mentioned.

Here's what the Times tells us about the "prominent conservative education group":
The Florida Citizens Alliance, a conservative group, has urged the state to reject 28 of the 38 textbooks that its volunteers reviewed, including more than a dozen by McGraw Hill, a major national publisher.

The alliance, whose co-founders served on Mr. DeSantis’s education advisory team during his transition to governor, has helped lead a sweeping effort to remove school library books deemed as inappropriate, including many with L.G.B.T.Q. characters. It trained dozens of volunteers to review social studies textbooks.

In a summary of its findings submitted to the state last month, the group complained that a McGraw Hill fifth-grade textbook, for example, mentioned slavery 189 times within a few chapters alone. Another objection: An eighth-grade book gave outsize attention to the “negative side” of the treatment of Native Americans, while failing to give a fuller account of their own acts of violence, such as the Jamestown Massacre of 1622, in which Powhatan warriors killed more than 300 English colonists.
But there's more to know. For starters, it should be noted that the Florida Citizens Alliance wasn't founded as an "education group" at all. As a 2017 Daily Beast story notes, it began primarily as a gun advocacy group, and its focus was switched to education in an effort to attract more members:
[Steve] Vernon, a retired IBM contracts negotiator and Marine Corps veteran, ... joined the Florida Citizens’ Alliance as a board member in 2012, initially inspired by the organization’s gun-rights advocacy. In fidelity to the IBM corporate ethos, Vernon and others in the Alliance recognized that the group wasn’t optimizing its potential appeal to the Florida citizenry, so they commissioned a team of consultants to evaluate the group’s strategy for obtaining new members.

“That’s when we decided we were a ‘Liberty Education’ organization,” Vernon said at his dining room table, reflecting on the organization’s decision to give up its laser focus on Second Amendment causes and begin promoting the teaching of conservative values to children. “Membership increased significantly when we started saying, ‘Look at what’s in our textbooks,’” Vernon said.
"Liberty education" means, among other things, challenging schoolbooks that present evolution and human-caused climate change as accepted fact.
In [a 2018] Education Week article, Keith Flaugh, listed as the FLCA Managing Director and self-described FLCA activist, is quoted as saying, “Man-made global warming [is] presented as fact when it is still very much a theory!” He’s also cited as remarking “Books that treat evolution as a proven science are discriminating and bully children and families against their religious beliefs.” According to his LinkedIn profile, Flaugh is a former IBM employee who says, “Ask your child or grandchild what they are being taught in our public schools? Man-made global warming is not proven, yet most of you will find our kids are being indoctrinated with the Progressive worldview.”
In 2018, Flaugh and the Florida Citizens Alliance unsuccessfully challenged science textbooks in Collier County, Florida, on these grounds:
Keith Flaugh, co-director of the Florida Citizens’ Alliance, a conservative group that is suing the school district over social studies textbooks adopted last year, wrote in his objection that there are “many very credible scientists” who have proved the impossibility of evolution.

Flaugh cited the following websites as sources for his pro-creationism stance:;;; and
This might be a good time to point out that Flaugh is one of the two officers of the Alliance who were appointed to then-Governor-Elect Ron DeSantis's education advisory committee in 2018. (The other was Rick Stevens.) Which makes me wonder whether DeSantis would acknowledge that evolution is settled science. (I'm sure he'll declare himself a climate change denialist on the presidential campaign trail.)

The Alliance is also obsessed with "pornography" in schools.

Among the offending titles, according to the group: the Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir Angela's Ashes, which the Alliance describes as “not age-appropriate for any grade level using public taxpayer dollars.” (The author of Angela's Ashes was Frank McCourt, who taught for fifteen years at New York City's Stuyvesant High School, which established a scholarship in his honor.) Also on the list: Kate Chopin's novel about infidelity, The Awakening, which is not pornographic or explicit and was published in 1899. (Give the Alliance credit for not limiting its censorship efforts to material about LGBTQ and non-white people.)

The Alliance is also upset when a textbook doesn't blame slavery in America on Muslims in Africa. From an Alliance report:

A few years back, on the Alliance's website, Keith Flaugh posted Pamela Geller's "Imposing Islam in Your Public School In Six Easy Steps," which portrays recommendations for accommodation of Islam in schools -- e.g., allowing Muslim students to take Islamic holy days off -- as indoctrination. Also available on the group's site: a post titled "The 14th, 15th, & 19th Amendments Were Unnecessary And Dangerous. Radical Thought? The Truth Quite Often Is." The author is KrisAnne Hall, an associate of the Oath Keepers, Ammon Bundy, and Mike Flynn who believes county sheriffs have the legal right to ignore federal law.

Now keep telling me that Ron DeSantis is less of a threat to America than Donald Trump.

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