Governor Gavin Newsom of California (D) issued a threat on Saturday, vowing to publicly reveal unidentified publishers if they fail to disclose any alterations made to textbooks intended for Florida schools.
“The extremists in Florida and textbook companies that are colluding with them are about to be exposed,” Newsom tweeted.
In addition, Newsom expressed concerns that Florida textbooks might manipulate historical events behind closed doors, implying that facts about segregation, the Holocaust, and the story of Rosa Parks are being omitted.
You don't get to rewrite history in a back room.— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) May 21, 2023
You don't get to erase basic facts around segregation, the holocaust, or Rosa Parks' story.
The extremists in Florida and textbook companies that are colluding with them are about to be exposed. https://t.co/63tAp67f0Q
Newsom attached a letter to his tweet, dated May 20, which was addressed in a generic manner to “Publisher.” The letter specified a deadline of June 1 for the publishers to comply with his request.
In his letter, Newsom insists Californians “deserve to know whether any of the companies designing textbooks for our state’s classrooms are the same ones kowtowing to Florida’s extremist agenda.”
Newsom refrained from explicitly specifying the repercussions for non-compliance with his request, simply stating that California would not be involved. It remains uncertain whether he plans to take punitive measures against publishers if he finds their textbook designs for Florida objectionable.
Newsom did not elaborate on how publishers are involved in the “design” process when creating textbooks that adhere to California’s standards but seemingly compromise their principles when accommodating Florida’s requirements.
In his letter, Newsom demanded that an unnamed publisher disclose information about conducting business in Florida, including providing excerpts that reflect any modifications the company agreed to make in response to Florida’s demands.
Additionally, besides pressuring the publisher, Newsom’s letter revealed that he also requested similar information from Florida officials. His office submitted a formal inquiry to Governor DeSantis’ office and Florida’s Department of Education, seeking all communications between their offices and textbook publishers pertaining to proposed revisions for approval in Florida.
According to NPR, Florida’s Department of Education announced on May 9 that 66 out of 101 submissions for new social studies textbooks were rejected. After publishers made necessary changes to comply with Florida’s accuracy standards and other criteria, the number of approved submissions increased from 19. The Department of Education provided several examples on its website, demonstrating the changes made before and after review.
Concerns that prompted revision requests included age-inappropriateness, inaccurate descriptions of socialism, politically biased language regarding the Hebrew Bible, incorrect portrayals of communism, and unsolicited content addressing social justice issues following George Floyd’s death.
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Expert reviewers assess the submissions to ensure they meet Florida’s specifications and align with the state’s academic standards.
Approved textbooks can be purchased by Florida school districts, while decisions of non-adoption can be challenged through an appeals process.
In what appears to be a thinly veiled suggestion of potential consequences for publishers who refuse to comply with Governor Newsom’s directive, he offered assistance from his Office of Legal Affairs to address any inquiries the publishers may have regarding the demand.