The dangerous math that Florida doesn't want its children to learn

Well, this is curious. The state of Florida has rejected a bunch of math textbooks because they contain forbidden subjects, including things like "Critical Race Theory" and "Social Emotional Learning." What on earth, one wonders, could be so offensive in a math textbook for children? The Florida Education Department didn't provide any specific examples. 

By the way, most of the rejected books are for elementary school kids.

Fortunately, I've dug deeper and discovered what the offending math concepts are, so that I could share them with you, dear reader. Here, then, are the six math topics that apparently drove the Florida Education Department to issue its ban:

1. The offending math texts call π an "irrational" number. As everyone knows, pi (π) describes the ratio between the circumference of a circle and its radius, a value that is approximately 3.1416. 

Florida's government knows that math cannot be irrational! This seems to be an attempt to insert Social Emotional Learning into math. 

Incidentally, Florida is in good company here: back in 1897, the Indiana State House passed a bill that declared that π equals 3.2. (It doesn't.) Luckily, when the bill reached the Indiana Senate, a Purdue University professor was in the audience, and he helped the senators realize they shouldn't pass it. They didn't.

2. Many of the textbooks refer to "binary" numbers. Of course, if there are binary numbers, there must be non-binary numbers. Are these mathematics textbooks trying to sneak in references to sex and gender? Florida's Education Department can't allow that.

3. Some of the texts describe "magic squares." Magic, of course, is the work of the devil. Florida wisely decided to keep such offensive terms out of its math curriculum. 

(Aside: a magic square is a square filled with numbers from 1 to N, where the numbers are arranged so that every row, column, and diagonal sums to the same value. These can be fun puzzles for children and adults.)

4. A number of texts introduce the idea of the "golden ratio" and "golden rectangles." Clearly this is a reference to worshipping the golden calf, from the Old Testament, which everyone knows is a false god. What are those math textbooks trying to do here?

Making matters worse, the golden ratio is another irrational number! See my discussion of π above. 

(Aside: two quantities a and b are in the golden ratio if their ratio is the same as the ratio of their sum to the larger of the two quantities; in other words, if (a+b)/a = a/b.)

5. Most of the offending math texts use the expression "higher power" to refer to exponents rather than to a deity. Obviously this cannot be permitted.

6. Let's not forget the Pythagorean theorem. All the math texts describe this creation of a pagan mathematician from ancient Greece, whose philosophy resembled modern socialism. Why are math books promoting pagan ideology?

The right-wing governor of Florida (and presidential wannabe) Ron DeSantis enthusiastically endorsed the rejection of these textbooks, saying in a press release, "I’m grateful that Commissioner Corcoran and his team at the Department have conducted such a thorough vetting of these textbooks."

Yes, the governor of Florida is deeply concerned about protecting the children of his state. (That's why he's been such an ardent opponent of vaccines.) 

Now if only those math textbook publishers can just make π a nice, rational number, and get rid of any references to binary numbers, I'm sure Florida will forgive them.

(Note: this is satire. Second note: the copy of this article that appeared at Forbes, where I cross-post all my blog articles, had over 40,000 views in just its first few hours, but the editors there took it down because they were afraid (as they informed me) that the satire would confuse readers. I requested that Forbes put it back up, but so far they haven't.)

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