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UPDATES: Koch exits, DeSantis responds
For the last five weeks, Popular Information has reported extensively on Koch Industries, the corporation owned by right-wing billionaire Charles Koch, and its decision to continue business in Russia. Koch Industries was one of the few American companies to maintain full operations after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. A brief overview:
March 14: Popular Information breaks the news that Koch Industries is maintaining its operations in Russia through three wholly-owned subsidiaries. Koch Industries does not respond to a request for comment.
March 16: Popular Information documents how groups funded by Charles Koch's non-profit, Stand Together, are aggressively advocating against economic sanctions on Russia.
March 17: Koch Industries releases its first statement confirming its ongoing operations in Russia. The company's COO, Dave Robertson, argues that leaving Russia would "do more harm than good."
March 24: In an internal memo obtained by Popular Information, Robertson acknowledges increasingly critical media coverage of Koch Industries' decision to maintain its business activities in Russia. Robertson reiterates his claim that leaving Russia would "do more harm than good."
April 6: Popular Information obtains an internal email from Charles Koch's non-profit, Stand Together, which argues against most economic sanctions on Russia and directly links to Koch Industries' decision to maintain its business operations in the country.
April 18: Popular Information reveals that an academic funded by Charles Koch's non-profit network has publicly cast doubt about whether Russian forces are attacking civilians in Ukraine.
On Thursday, Popular Information obtained an internal memo from Koch Industries that announced the company was exiting Russia—a dramatic reversal of its previous position. Robertson said it was "untenable" for Koch Industries to "continue operations in Russia."
Koch Industries is a multi-billion dollar corporation controlled by Charles Koch, one of the most powerful figures in U.S. politics. Popular Information is a three-person newsletter. But, through in-depth research and reporting, we can hold powerful entities to account.
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Florida responds to report on rejected math textbooks
Last week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) and the state Department of Education announced that they had rejected 26 math textbooks for including "prohibited content." According to Florida officials, these books sought to "indoctrinate" students with "dangerous and divisive" ideas, including "Critical Race Theory" and "race essentialism."
Notably, these officials did not present examples of this kind of content. When Popular Information requested examples, we received no response. DeSantis said that producing examples was impossible because the textbooks were proprietary.
Popular Information obtained eight rejected math textbooks and reported what we found on Thursday. We found no examples of Critical Race Theory, "race essentialism," or the other claims made by DeSantis and his allies. Rather, we found some passages encouraging kids to be nice to each other, a few passing mentions of famous African-American mathematicians, and a handful of math problems that referenced racial disparities or prejudice as part of a fact pattern.
This report quickly went viral on Twitter.
A few hours later, Popular Information was contacted by the Florida Department of Education with four "examples of problematic elements" from the rejected textbooks. You can view them here.
Notably, the Florida Department of Education did not identify which textbooks contained these examples. Nor did it provide any explanation as to why these examples justified the rejections. It also did not address why it was possible to release these examples when DeSantis and others previously claimed it was impossible.
But there is nothing in the four examples from Florida's Department of Education that is fundamentally different from the examples in Popular Information's report. Two examples touch on basic concepts of Social-Emotional Learning (SEL), encouraging students, for example, to be empathetic toward their classmates. The two other examples include references to racial prejudice as part of a fact pattern for a math problem. None of the examples substantiate the claims of DeSantis and other Florida officials.