CSCOPE Witch Hunt: Patrick, Dewhurst Compete for the Loony Vote While Throwing Local Control Out the Window

Now Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has joined state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, in throwing local control out the window and pandering to fanatics attacking the CSCOPE curriculum program used in hundreds of Texas school districts.

In a letter to the State Board of Education on Wednesday, Dewhurst said that he is “deeply troubled” that teachers in local school districts plan to continue using CSCOPE lessons. Activists on the loony right have absurdly attacked the lessons as Marxist, anti-American and pro-Islamic. Dewhurst wrote that “it is my intent to pass legislation as soon as possible to prevent districts from using CSCOPE lesson plans” as well as other components of the program.

Nearly 900 school districts — close to 80 percent of the school districts in Texas — use CSCOPE to help teachers cover all of the state’s complex and convoluted curriculum standards in a cost-effective way. Now the lieutenant governor wants the state Legislature to tell local superintendents and teachers what curriculum tools they can use in their local schools.

Dewhurst has also posted an anti-CSCOPE petition on his re-election campaign website, repeating the same silly claims (“unnecessary bias,” “veil of secrecy,” “attempt to undermine Texas values”) Tea Party and other right-wing activists have made in attacking CSCOPE and the educators who developed it. He wants “to end CSCOPE once and for all” — not just the lessons, but also the assessments and guides that help school districts map out their coverage of the curriculum standards.

Sen. Patrick, who is running against Dewhurst in next year’s Republican primary, has been fishing for the loony anti-CSCOPE vote for months now. So is Attorney General Greg Abbott, who wants the GOP’s nomination for governor. Their bullying forced the state’s Education Service Centers to announce in May that they would stop developing lessons in their CSCOPE program. But the Texas Education Agency’s legal counsel last week said those lessons are essentially now in the public domain, which means teachers can use them if they choose. But Patrick has threatened to report the names of teachers who continue using CSCOPE lessons to the attorney general so that Abbott can… do what? Fine them? Have them thrown in jail? Maybe drag them into the town square for ritual humiliation? Apparently, these supposed champions of “local control” have decided that teachers can’t be trusted to choose the instructional materials they want to use.

We have pointed out how absurd the anti-CSCOPE claims are. Now even Capitol reporters are noting the lack of evidence behind those claims. Take, for example, this excerpt from a Dallas Morning News reporter’s blog post Wednesday night:

Patrick and other critics have repeatedly pointed to a few examples of lessons that have since been discarded, including one that compared the Boston Tea Party to a terrorist act – from the perspective of the British, who likely did consider it a terrorist act. Another lesson cited by critics asked students to design a flag that would be used by a socialist country. Some of the groups have gone overboard and contend that CSCOPE is aimed at promoting anti-American, pro-Islamic views. But they have offered scant evidence to back up those assertions.

Maybe it would be good to point out that the folks Dewhurst, Patrick and Abbott are pandering to sound like total nutbars. During a November 2012 hearing before a State Board of Education committee, for example, critics compared CSCOPE to Nazi mind control techniques. In February a Tea Party group in the Hill Country west of Austin denounced CSCOPE as “COMMUNIST, MARXIST, PROGRESSIVE, LEFTIST DOGMA, PROPAGANDA, AND INDOCTRINATION at the expense of taxpayers!”

Critics also claim that CSCOPE is indoctrinating students into Islam even though Roman Catholic and other Christian schools around the state have been using the program. And then there are the claims that the Education Service Centers, the Texas Association of School Administrators and the Texas Association of School Boards are conspiring to indoctrinate students with supposedly Marxist “project-based learning” techniques.

So while trampling all over the principle of local control for public schools, Dewhurst, Patrick and Abbott seem to be competing for the support of folks who are promoting that kind of looniness. Maybe next they’ll make a pitch for support from folks who think water fluoridation is a communist plot or that NASA staged fake moon landings somewhere in the desert decades ago.

21 thoughts on “CSCOPE Witch Hunt: Patrick, Dewhurst Compete for the Loony Vote While Throwing Local Control Out the Window

  1. Who died and left education in the hands of this Triumvirate of Morons (Could that have been the name of John Kennedy Toole’s second book, had he lived, with this cast of characters as the protagonists?). I cannot believe that they have the best interests of anybody but themselves and their hold on power. They are fascists with ulterior motives. As far as I can see, this is tantamount to book burning. Which will come next if these guys get away with what they are trying to do. They are all bottom feeding scum.

    1. We consevative ones out here are scared to death. People who are scared to death do strange things in the midst of their terror.

      The world that I grew up in and was taught is right is going away with each passing day. Those of us who hitched our lariats to that world in the cuddlesomeness of our moms and dads so long ago see a world before us that is strange, alien, and threatening. In 1957, the “f” word was never heard. Nowadays, I go to school to pick up my grandson Johnny, and every second kid on the playground is using that “f” word out loud and every other four-letter word known to man with it.

      I used to fix my own car and save a lot of money too. Now you have to have a college degree in computer science to fix a car. I so miss not being able to work with my car and make my paycheck go further by doing it.

      I just wish all of you liberal people out there knew how sad and bewildering it is to see everything that you ever believed to be wise and right swirling down the drain. A man or woman would like to feel that their life on this Earth created something good and right that would last and transcend time. It is clear now that this will not happen, and it grieves us old people so very much. It’s just like in that “Last of the Mohicans” movie. Magua is going to kill the old general—but first—he says that he will kill each of his children before his eyes first—and then kill him last so he will die with the knowledge that his whole line of progeny is all gone and no one will be able to carry on after him. We just wish that you liberals and all your little elitist college boys with degrees and grand ideas could realize what you are doing to us simple people and please show us some pity, sympathy, and mercy.

      This is really what is going on out there on the Texas landscape Swinedance. It’s mostly tired old people who see the world they thought would last forever going away. I think it has always been this way. A whole generation of old people dies out and sees the world they created—and thought would last forever—dying right along with them. We just have to understand that this is what happens. The Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible sums it up well. All is vanity. Old and dying people just need to understand that their world is in the process of being taken over by another generation and another world—and they too will one day be replaced in the same way by a world that they will believe is just as frightening.

      There is no need for fright. It is just something different.

  2. The letter from Dewhurst just provides further evidence of how mismanaged, dysfunctional, and frankly sick our state’s education system has become. The state’s education leaders, such as Dewhurst, Patrick, and others, are psychotically disturbed when they write, “I have serious issues with reported factual errors and bias in CSCOPE’s lesson plans.” First, there are no “factual errors and bias” in the lesson plans. Second, to base your “serious issues” on “reported” claims without taking the time to read, study, and investigate the claims yourself using accepted scholarly methods–or having someone else who is qualified do this–and reach a conclusion based on reason and evidence before making false claims, simply smacks of McCarthyistic smears, lies, and intellectual dishonesty. This type of behavior is what authoritarian despots, fascists, and their political parties indulge in. This is what Patrick and Dewhurst have been indulging in.

    Dewhurst states in his letter that he intends to use the considerable power of his public office to investigate innocent teachers who worked hard to provide lesson plans based on critical thinking and that conform with Texas’s complex and detailed curriculum requirements. Dewhurst justifies his threats with smears and implied accusations based on hearsay evidence and incompetent and misguided claims provided by political and religious extremists, the radical Tea Party hoped-for supporters he is cynically courting. Dewhurst’s outrageous letter proves that Texas is being run by fascist tin-pot dictators who have contempt for citizens who can think clearly about intellectual issues such as the appropriateness of lesson plans, and who would rather pander to the most ignorant and radical citizens who hate competent education that teaches critical thinking, empathy, and countering prejudice. Dewhurst and Patrick’s witch-hunt will ultimately backfire when the Texas education community and parents really start to complain about the misuse of political power in this state to stifle K-12 education. Texas must now import knowledge workers from other states to meet the needs of businesses. Perhaps these new citizens will speak up.

    1. Very well stated. I have not voted for a Democrat since Jimmy Carter. These three along with Perry have me so upset that I’m considering voting Democrat this time around. We have to do something to either get their attention or get them out of office.

  3. But the key question is this. If one arises to 60,000 feet and looks across the vast landscape of Texas in all directions, one has to ask a key question. Where did all of these people to whom the politicians are pandering come up with all of these crazy notions that they hold so dear?

    It is the same in the area where I live back east in Tennessee. It is not against reality to state that most of the people who live in this area believe that the federal government (and some even local government) is the enemy of the people. They apparently believe that a foreign government sits in Washington, D.C.—or perhaps an alien government from outer space. Someone is teaching these people to hate their own government. Is it not the same Declaration of Independence we have had for 236 years. Is it not the same U.S. Constitution we have had since 1787. Is this not still the nation created by Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, Adams, and Madison? Do we not still celebrate the Fourth of July as John Adams recommended that we do?

    Who is responsible for all of this nonsense?

  4. Follow the money. Dew hurst, Abbott, and especially Patrick don’t know enough about CSCOPE to be making the claims that they are making. All of them are facing expensive campaigns. The company who has the most to gain and who is probably promising large campaign donations is Pearson. Pearson is probably pulling the puppet strings of these idiots. Does anyone else find it troubling that on the same day that Dan Patrick announced that CSCOPE is dead Pearson announced that they were introducing a new curriculum program for Texas. So, the company that is responsible for the standardized tests in Texas is also going to offer a curriculum. What a marketing tool. We write the test. Buy our curriculum and your students will pass the test. Talk about “teaching to the test”.

    As far as I know CSCOPE is the only commercially available curriculum that was written directly for the TEKS that the state requires schools to teach. If people don’t like what CSCOPE teaching blame the state they are the ones that tell districts what to teach.

    Why aren’t Patrick, Abbott and Dewhurst interested in including the curriculums of large districts, who can afford their own curriculum writing staffs, in their witch hunts? Try getting permission to view the curriculum of any large district in the state.

    1. Sorry, I meant that for Jim’s comment. The entire Pearson monopoly on public education is getting scarey.

  5. CSCOPE is flawed because of inaccuracies not because of a subversive anti-American content. It includes vocabulary that the global community uses but does not suggest that Americans adopt any of it. Students cannot understand government, literature, history, if they don’t study Marxism and its effects. That does not mean they have to adopt it. This is ridiculous. However, as an educator, the amount of time and energy I had to spend emailing CSCOPE due to inaccuracies in the curriculum such as “Queen Elizabeth of medieval times” and other such nonsense, was overburdensome. My department opted out and used only the assessments as required by my district. The other depts. such as science and math found success. Anytime government dictates curriculum and education, there is a problem, plain and simple.

    1. Once again, CSCOPE was designed to be OPTIONAL and VOLUNTARY and to be used SELECTIVELY. CSCOPE was not flawed except possibly for some factual inaccuracies (found in every textbook I have ever examined, and that’s hundreds of science and social studies textbooks). It was designed by Texas teachers to provide ONE inexpensive source of lesson plans and curriculum instructional materials that matched the required Texas curriculum standards. There are other much more expensive sources helpfully provided by for-profit publishers. Two years ago the Legislature, in statute, asked for such inexpensive state-generated instructional materials to save Texas schools money; CSCOPE was the result.

      Jim’s suggestion to follow the money is a good one. If the inexpensive state-written curriculum materials are not used, teachers and districts will have to use publisher-provided instructional materials or develop their own, which is an extremely onerous task. Only the very largest school districts have the resources to do that for themselves.

      There are several free or very inexpensive sources of lesson plans and curriculum instructional materials available nationally, but these were written for the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards, not for the Texas standards, the TEKS, which are unique in their content (a charitable way to phrase it, since the biology, Earth and space science, and social studies standards are horribly censored and manipulated to promote a narrow sectarian religious, political, and ideological agenda). If Texas were to adopt the CCSS and NGSS, the curriculum materials problem would vanish. Instead, it appears that Perry, Abbott, and Patrick are manipulating curriculum materials availability to force schools to use expensive for-profit publisher materials. Readers should realize that the major publishers use dozens of lobbyists in Austin to promote their goals, and there is nothing more loved by Republicans than lobbyists.

      1. Here is how I see it, when politicians can point out the flaws in the educational portions of adopted curriculum, then they should have a voice in this, until then, listen to teachers, parents, and students. Using education to gain political capitol, and pitching it to the highest bidder, republican or democrat, is disgraceful and detrimental to the youth in our nation. It is simple, and they are complicating it in an attempt to gain votes. It makes me very sad for my students and my children.

      2. Steven you are exactly right about the use of CSCOPE lessons and about the errors in textbooks.

        Jennifer I agree we would all love perfect/error free curriculum materials. I have never seen that in my years of teaching. CSCOPE was never marketed to us as a curriculum to buy, but the opportunity to join a collaborative.I think you are missing the beauty of the feedback buttons. You may have had to submit feed back twice to get a correction made, but it will get changed. I have thirteen year old science textbooks that have mistakes that will never be made. I agree that we need to listen to teachers. Mine are all panicked about CSCOPE lessons going away after they have spent years tweaking those lessons to make them their own.

        I can break the teachers who say they don’t like CSCOPE into two main categories. First, old school teachers who want to line their desks up in rows the lecture and hand out worksheets. We could replace those teachers with videotapes and paraprofessionals. Second, teachers whose districts did a poor job of implementing CSCOPE. I’ve seen that in several districts where they joined CSCOPE over the summer and just dropped it on teachers when they returned in August. That is unfortunate.

        1. Error free isn’t the issue. And two emails didn’t correct the problem. As I said, I think the witch hunt is silly when others are having success, but there is no one product that is the only solution. My district did not do a good job of implementing, but cscope also doesn’t generally do a good job of having their materials ready. It cuts both ways. I am far from old school. The bottom line is still: give teachers freedom and autonomy to make decisions. They are trained, educated, and know the needs of their students which makes them better qualified than any corporation or politician to make decisions about their classrooms.

    2. Jennifer – Thank you – The comments on this post have been an education in themselves and yours is great.

      Having standards is one thing, but, using your example, to label Queen Elizabeth as being of the Medieval period is either plain inaccurate or worse, an attempt to dumb down history. Either the authors do not think students are intelligent enough to grasp the concepts of “Renaissance” or “Enlightenment” which, if one were to actually try to place Elizabeth I, is the era in which her reign would probably fall. Which leads me to ask some very serious questions: How many other inaccuracies are there in the curriculum? Are the typical classroom teachers willing and able to spot inaccuracies in the subject matter before adding it to project plans? Is the service center willing update the lesson plans when these issues are discovered? If we had a competent and ideologically neutral legislature, these would be the questions they would ask, rather than chasing down straw dogs.

      1. When I emailed them about “Queen Elizabeth in medieval times,” they did take the time to “correct” it, but it was changed to “middle ages.” I am not kidding. I had to go back and do another email in depth educating them about Queen Elizabeth so they could more accurately address her in regard to literature. I finally told my administrators, I am not a paid editor for CSCOPE, I have a classroom full of students, and I know this information. I do not need a flawed curriculum to replace me. I can do this correctly without it. So I did. Assessments, I feel are useless if the information you provide is not correct. However, that still does not justify the witch hunt. If science and math is having success, why take it away? I would not use it in literature until I had proof that the creators had correct the ills plaguing it, or if I felt it could better prepare the students than I could without it.

        1. I totally agree with you. Keep up the good work. Be assured you are on a noble quest!