Anti-CSCOPE Activists Take Law into Their Own Hands, Screw Over Taxpayers

UPDATE: A spokesperson for the state’s Education Service Centers confirmed late Friday afternoon that tests anti-CSCOPE activists irresponsibly posted on the Internet will have to be rewritten. Depending on how many assessments must be replaced, the total cost to taxpayers could be up to $1 million.

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Tea party and other right-wing activists have screamed for months that the state’s Education Service Centers have broken the law and cheated taxpayers in the development and use of the CSCOPE curriculum management system. They’ve offered no real evidence that such reckless claims are true, but they’ve made them anyway. Now two of the most prominent anti-CSCOPE fanatics appear to have taken the law into their own hands, and in doing so have probably screwed over local taxpayers in school districts around the state.

The Austin American-Statesman reports today (story behind a paywall) that Ginger Russell, who with her mother Janice VanCleave helped launch the anti-CSCOPE witch hunt, has published on her Red Hot Conservative blog the questions and answers to a number of social studies tests in the CSCOPE program. In addition, Alice Linahan has made the same information public on her Voices Empower website. Linahan’s Voices Empower is a for-profit political consulting company that has been helping promote the attacks on CSCOPE.

As the American-Statesman story notes, the tests and their answers are protected under copyright law. But beyond the question of whether Russell and Linahan have now broken the law is the issue of their contempt for teachers and taxpayers in the hundreds of school districts that bought those CSCOPE tests for use in their classrooms. In fact, as the American-Statesman points out, the public release of this information may have compromised the integrity of those tests and could render them unusable by the districts that bought them. (For obvious reasons, schools try to keep students from having access to the questions and answers before they take a test.)

In other words, making these test questions and answers public has made teachers’ jobs unnecessarily more difficult and has potentially wasted taxpayer dollars used by school districts to buy the tests. Thanks, Ginger and Alice.

Mark us down as not surprised. Anti-CSCOPE fanatics have absurdly accused the Texas educators who wrote and use CSCOPE lessons of trying to indoctrinate students with un-American, anti-Christian, pro-Islamic and Marxist propaganda. Why in the world would they have any more respect for both the law and for taxpayers?

32 thoughts on “Anti-CSCOPE Activists Take Law into Their Own Hands, Screw Over Taxpayers

  1. No the ones who have screwed over the TAX Payers are those that have lied and deceived TEXAS parents and taxpayers.

    Where is is the CSCOPE money. Where is the 150M of the Rider 42 money.

    Why do Texans have to pay to develop something and then in turn sell it back to the tax payer year after year after year..

    The Truth will come to light sooner or later.

    1. Ginger: Shame on you for demonstrating, once again, your contempt for taxpayers and classroom teachers.

    1. You think a group of people who decided to break the law, and cost the taxpayers a lot of money in order to push a poorly thought out and highly discredited agenda is laughable?

      Or was it laughable because you couldn’t make out the words due to your stringent anti educational upbringing so you had to make up words in your mind to replace the multi syllable ones you couldn’t sound out?

  2. What a bunch of worthless rotten human beings. This is one of the biggest reasons that I am actually considering leaving this state. And to think that they truly don’t care about the legitimacy of their argument as they are being bank rolled by a corporation that is in direct competition with the CSCOPE.

  3. Isn’t Ginger the one who said, “21st Century Learning Is Dangerous!” So go easy on her: she is only trying to make learning in this century less dangerous for students by giving them the questions and answers before they even study the material. I hope she does the same thing for her kids–to make them stupid and ignorant by compromising their educations. What’s really dangerous in the 21st Century is for adults to have such contempt for public education that they actively and aggressively work to make things more difficult for public schools and teachers. I hope CSCOPE sues Ginger for $150 million to recover the cost of the irremediably-damaged CSCOPE lessons.

  4. I’m assuming if this is a copyright issue that there will be legal consequences. I can hardly wait.

  5. I think that if CSCOPE makes it back up onto their feet, they should be thinking about focusing their efforts into adult education classes aimed directly at the extremists who have led the attacks against them. Imagine an initiative that could simultaneously improve adult education where it is sorely needed while protecting the scarce resources that benefit all Texan children.

  6. How can a group that claims to be pro-constitution make such claims? As a teacher even in rural Texas, I have taught children that are of Muslim faith. When I read the blog and information the Tea Party is pushing, it is CLEARLY hate motivated. If a teacher could not use c-scope and use their own tools to find other resources that are FREE on the internet; TEA has links, then how did they even graduate teacher education? There is NO perfect book or curriculum. This is about someone not being asked to help write programs or win contract to train. I am NOT fooled by the Tea Party and TEXAS…WAKE up and VOTE them OUT!

  7. Stop falling for the Tea Party and Extreme conservatives games! Next they will be after textbook providers. They are clearly mad because someone wasn’t asked to contribute to the lessons. IDK, maybe it is a hint that they are not as SMART as they think they are! GO AWAY TEA PARTY!!

  8. Ginger, I have my M.Ed in educational curriculum and development. I have YET to see a PERFECT curriculum. It is and was the BEST price and was getting better. Texas changed knowledge and skills soon after C-scope came on the scene. That meant writers, developers, and educators had to go back and re-align the program. TAKS then moved to STAAR within two years as well. Maybe you should start complaining to Texas Gov. about changing requirements and the millions on millions for new testing. Stop the crazy behavior. Those of us truly educated see right through the whole ACT!

  9. It may or may not be against the law for Russell and Linahan to publish copyrighted materials without permission. It is certainly underhanded to do so. And, as TFN suggests, it shows contempt for teachers who had recently completed plans for classroom instruction and tests to find out how effective that instruction was to now have to use their precious time to develop new tests.

  10. I don’t see the big deal. Yes, Ginger and Alice are a couple of intellectually dishonest, twisted idiots but they’ll still be idiots tomorrow.

    I say go ahead and use the tests. Seriously, how many kids are going to take the time to look at the questions and the answers? Suppose, for a moment, some kids do go out there and memorize the answers. Perhaps they would actually learn something.

    How about we just ignore these ignorant conservative morons and just move on. They have nothing to contribute to society.

  11. I do not agree with the Tea Party on anything. But what must be understood is this: There is a very serious lack of alignment between the Cscope lessons and the tests. In addition, the Cscope tests are riddled with errors–every test I have seen had multiple choice questions with more than one answer that could be correct–and questions that could not be answered because the item students were supposed to view in order to answer the question was missing. Some districts have allowed committees of teachers to correct the tests while others require the tests to be used, as is. Correcting these errors, however, does not fix the alignment issues. The result of the use of these flawed assessments is whole rooms of students with scores in the 20-30% range–and teachers who are judged by administrators as not doing their jobs–and parents who want answers. I have met many educators (excellent teachers) who are distraught over this issue–and have been for a number of years–but no one will listen to them. Will the re-written Cscope tests show better alignment with the lessons? Will they be proofread to eliminate the errors I have discussed? I hope so, but I really doubt that will be the case. The sad thing is that these flawed assessments were ever approved for use in the first place.

    1. Thanks for the insight, Sam. From the start, our focus has been on the absurd claims about CSCOPE promoting Marxism, Islam, etc. We don’t know anyone who objects to making any necessary improvements to the program in response to concerns about errors and quality. In fact, we applauded State Board of Education members last fall who seemed to want to focus on those legitimate concerns. Unfortunately, the political witch hunt has only gotten worse since then.

    2. A big misconception that has been an ongoing battle from the first year CScope was rolled out is that the Unit Assessments are written from the lessons. The Unit Assessments have never been written from the lessons. The Unit Assessments are written from the Instructional Focus Documents (IFD), and if test questions have more than one “plausible answer”, then that is because the test writers were creating the test questions to meet the rigor of the TEK. Anyone who knows curriculum development and design in the state of Texas is aware that Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, the curriculum that is mandated by the state, require students to think critically and apply knowledge. The days of rote memorization and simple recall are gone. The past several years of TEKS revisions have increased the rigor of a large portion of the TEKS to the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. The anti-CScope folks who got this witch hunt started did not have a clue that it is the STATE that mandates the curriculum. If they have a problem with what is taught in public schools, take it up with the State Board of Education and the Texas Education Agency.
      CScope is a tool to house the documents and organize the state-mandated curriculum into bundled units. Again, they have no clue that the Unit Assessments are not written from the lessons. The lessons are designed to be a resource from which teachers can pull information to enhance their lessons. The IFD is the focal point of instruction and details the instructional specificity of each TEK. If teachers develop their lessons to the specificity of the IFD, then their students should be successful on the Unit Assessments.

      1. IN many districts, teachers are required to use the CSCOPE lessons and the assessments verbatum. And then the teachers and students are judged by the scores on the assessments. As far as many districts are concerned–the assessments DO align with the lessons, and any low scores are the fault of the teachers.

      2. Jackie, thanks for explaining why the assessments were not written from the lessons, which is why they are not perfectly “aligned” in Sam’s view. I certainly agree with your explanation. The assessments today rely on students’ critical thinking abilities and some questions may be ambiguous and have several answers. That’s the case with the real world. Students (and some teachers, apparently) need to think through the questions and their possible answers. Your comment is key: “If teachers develop their lessons to the specificity of the IFD, then their students should be successful on the Unit Assessments.”

    3. What Sam claims must be taken with a grain of salt. No one else has complained about a lack of alignment between the lessons and tests. CSCOPE was written specifically to provide such alignment, so I doubt he is correct. Also, I doubt the tests are riddled with errors. The first examples of a few tests only appeared last week, so no one is able to confirm his statement. Teachers are supposed to use CSCOPE materials after reviewing them and using what is appropriate for their lessons and classroom. Just fix any errors you find before using them if they are so bad, or don’t use them at all. Is Sam suggesting we should throw CSCOPE out? If so, then he IS agreeing with the Tea Party. Remember, CSCOPE was written to comply with a Texas legislative mandate for the TEA to design and construct inexpensive digital instructional materials, lesson plans, and alignment documents for use by the enormous numbers of school districts that don’t have the staff or resources to write their own. These are necessary to comply with the excessively detailed, verbose, and complex Texas state curriculum requirements, themselves the result of political manipulation, rather than use what has become the national standard, the state-written (NOT federal) Common Core Standards and Next Generation Science Standards.

      An enormous amount of lesson plans, coursework materials, and assessments–all perfectly aligned and improved by research–will soon be available for these new national standards, most relatively inexpensively. Instead, Texas insists on using its own complicated and politicized standards so its students can’t be directly compared to those of other states, and also to preserve the illusion of “local control” by substituting instead a reactionary state control. Every other advanced, industrialized country in the world has national standards to ensure the successful education of their children. They would not tolerate local or state control of this extremely important document when they can witness for themselves how poorly it works in Texas.

      I strongly disagree that “flawed assessments” are responsible for whole rooms of students with 20-30% scores. This “issue” over “a number of years” cannot possibly be due to CSCOPE since they were just released last year and haven’t even been used for a year yet. I am certainly aware of roomfuls of students scoring 20-30% on standardized tests in Texas public schools. After all, Texas students have always scored 48th and 49th among the states on SATs and other national standardized exams that truly test comprehension, achievement, and reasoning (rather than content mastery or aspiration). This is due not to flawed assessments or lack of teacher effort, but to the colossal failure of the Texas public education system brought on by enormous grade inflation, massive social promotion, lax discipline standards (students refusing to do homework, talking continuously in class, listening to personal music players through class, etc., not only without punishment but with school policy complicity), inadequate classroom instruction time, too much time spent preparing for an over-abundance of state-required and federal-required (due to No Child Left Behind) assessments, too many absences on Friday afternoons, an inordinate emphasis on sports rather than academics, sole reliance on abstinence-only sexual health education, and illegal and unethical school administration manipulation of student grades, attendance, and exam scores to meet or exceed expected or mandated education goals.

      The fault for the Texas educational debacle lies not with teachers or even school administrators, but with Texas parents, the school boards they control, and the state education leaders they elect since these policies are primarily political in origin, not mandated or even encouraged by pedagogical reasons. NCLB is especially at fault, since we now know it was designed by the Bush Administration to not improve classroom instruction and student learning, but to initiate the failure of those things and document the failure of public schools, thereby causing public concern and paving the way for privatization of U.S. education with an expected and desired massive increase in sectarian schools financed by public tax vouchers for private schools.

      The Texas education system is a disaster now; it doesn’t need CSCOPE to make it worse. In fact, CSCOPE would have been an improvement. The lessons I examined had the effect of increasing students’ critical thinking and multicultural and internationalist thinking. The biology lessons taught evolution rigorously. I am convinced that the underlying and possibly secret intention of the CSCOPE writers was to do that. I am also convinced that the Texas radical religious right-wing (i.e. the Republican Party in general and the Tea Party in particular) most object to CSCOPE for these things and any strictly pedagogical criticisms are a smokescreen to mask their true reactionary beliefs. Tea Party parents don’t want their children to learn critical thinking or become multiculturalist, internationalist, socially aware, or even learn about other religions and cultures. They really want their children to share their parents’ superstitious, reactionary, and bigoted worldview, that is, they want their children to receive not a liberal education that exposes them to intellectual alternatives and gives them the power (critical thinking, the ability to think correctly for oneself) to make their own decisions about what to believe, but to remain ignorant about the really important issues in society and culture and to submit instead to parental religious and political indoctrination abetted by their churches and other authority figures.

      The best thing Texas could do is abandon its narrow-minded, politicized, and crippled state education standards and instead adopt the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards and use the alignment documents, lesson plans, and curriculum instructional materials that will soon be widely and inexpensively available. Future instructional materials from mainstream and secondary publishers will focus on these modern national standards and Texas will be abandoned de facto if not de jure. And rightly so.

    4. Why would you rewrite tests to lessons when there are no lessons? Moot point! Tests are to evaluate if the standards are mastered not the lessons.

  12. Shame on you Ginger. You have written Mary Ann Whiteker’s staff stating lies. You have promoted lies trying to link CSCOPE to the Common Core and now you have BROKEN the LAW! Your true colors came out. You are promoting lies.

  13. Why aren’t these people being prosecuted for theft of intellectual property or copyright infringement?

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