Oklahoma Secretary of Education Ryan Walters has informed school-textbook publishers that the content of their educational materials must comply with Oklahoma law that bans the teaching of certain tenets broadly associated with Critical Race Theory.
“Due to the passage of this bill, no public school districts, charter schools, or virtual charter schools in the State of Oklahoma will be allowed to purchase materials that promote race or sex-based discriminatory acts,” Walters wrote in a letter sent to textbook publishers. “If you intend to continue doing business with Oklahoma schools, I ask that you review your materials and edit it as needed to ensure that any textbooks intended to be sold to our schools align with the standards laid out in HB 1775. Critical Race Theory is not welcome in Oklahoma.”
House Bill 1775, which was signed into law on May 7, 2021, prohibits schools from teaching certain concepts broadly associated with Critical Race Theory. The law bars educators or schools from instructing students that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex” or that “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.”
It includes several other similar provisions, such as banning instruction that tells children an individual “should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex.” It also prohibits public schools from teaching that “meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist or were created by members of a particular race to oppress members of another race.”
Walters noted that the law also states, “Public schools in this state shall be prohibited from adopting programs or utilizing textbooks, instructional materials, curriculum, classroom assignments, orientation, interventions, or counseling that include, incorporate or are based on the discriminatory concepts” banned by the law.
Other states have also pushed back against the inclusion of CRT-related material in public-school textbooks.
The state of Florida recently rejected 41 percent of mathematics textbooks reviewed for use in the state’s schools. The Florida Department of Education subsequently released images of some material found in one of the rejected textbooks.
The department revealed that the math textbook had an exercise on adding and subtracting polynomials that began, “What? Me? Racist?” The exercise then examined results from the Implicit Association Test (IAT), which the textbook described as a test of individuals’ “racial prejudice.” The associated bar graphs indicated that conservatives were more racist than liberals as part of a math exercise.
Notably, the Implicit Association Test has long been criticized by academics and researchers for lacking scientific rigor. Critics note the IAT has declared up to three out of four Americans are “unconscious racists”—including racial minorities the test suggests are biased against people like themselves.
“It seems that some publishers attempted to slap a coat of paint on an old house built on the foundation of Common Core, and indoctrinating concepts like race essentialism, especially, bizarrely, for elementary school students,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis stated in a release after officials announced the rejection of the textbooks.
Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran said the state would continue to “reinforce parents’ rights by focusing on providing their children with a world-class education without the fear of indoctrination or exposure to dangerous and divisive concepts in our classrooms.”