The Other Columbus: Secrets from Florida’s rejected math textbooks

How many of these problems can you solve correctly?

Scott Woods
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis shows an image from the children's book Call Me Max by transgender author Kyle Lukoff moments before signing the Parental Rights in Education bill during a news conference on Monday, March 28, 2022, at Classical Preparatory school in Shady Hills. At left is an image of The Genderbread Person, a teaching tool used for breaking the concept of gender. /

Surprising exactly zero percent of the population, Florida’s Department of Education recently rejected more than 50 math textbooks that were being considered for classroom use because they reportedly contain “prohibited topics.” We don’t know exactly what those topics are across the board, but references to critical race theory have been cited. I can’t yet verify what’s in those denied texts, but I’m reasonably sure none of them reference scholarly interrogations of racialized systems of oppression. Not the K-5 ones, anyway.

If you’re racking your brain trying to imagine what kind of math problems would have to be in a textbook too hot for Florida, rack no more: An anonymous source has delivered to me a handful of sample questions from the redacted texts. I don’t know if this makes things clearer or just muddies the water, but at least we get a sense of what the debate is about.

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1) If you possess the right to vote but the state removes 50 polling stations, requires the presentation of state issued driver licenses and allows random armed citizens to watch you in line, how much democracy do you have left?

2) If 2,000 insurrectionists storm the Capitol building, directly or indirectly causing the death of five police officers, and 57 of them go on to run for public office, what percentage of a victory is that for white supremacy?

3) If Disney loses special privileges afforded by the state to do business because of speaking out against HB 1557 (the “Don’t Say Gay” law), how many well-meaning LGBTQIA+ allies will need to buy the EPCOT package for Disney to remain grossly affluent?

4) Brandi earns $10 an hour working in a fast-food restaurant. She works 40 hours a week. After paying $1,000 for rent, a $250 car note, $300 in utilities and $140 in gas money every month, how many side hustles does Brandi need if she wants to eat an actual vegetable once in a while?

5) If you pay two Democratic City Council members to secure development deals and two Republican senators to run interference on oversight of your businesses, how many politicians do you have in your pocket?

6) Protesters demand 25 percent of police budgets go to social services to prevent crime. Instead, the city adds 5 percent to the police budget. How many public concerns were actually addressed?

7) You have one vote, and a local industry giant has $50 million dollars. Who has more sway with civic leadership?

8) As the manager for a Democratic presidential campaign, how much money do you bother spending in Florida, and why is that number zero?