Entity Spearheading CSCOPE Attacks Is a For-Profit Political Consulting Business

by Dan Quinn

The Austin-based news website Quorum Report (subscription required) today notes that the entity that helped organize Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s Monday press conference attacking the CSCOPE curriculum management system is a for-profit, “Tea-Party-for-hire group” that goes by the name Voices Empower. Run by North Texas political activist Alice Linahan, Voices Empower specializes in marketing and political consulting.

Voices Empower is also behind a website calling for the impeachment of State Board of Education member Thomas Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant. Ratliff has been a vocal critic of the anti-CSCOPE political witch hunt.

This is interesting for a couple of reasons.

First, Dewhurst declared at his press conference yesterday that he “personally (has) a problem with any effort to politicize this process.” Flanked by Linahan as well as tea party and other political activists, he said doing so would  be “an affront to these families, and Texas families across the state, and the values we hold dear as Texans.” Then why did Dewhurst team up with political activists and a for-profit political consulting business to attack a curriculum tool used by hundreds of public and Christian schools in Texas?

Second, critics have claimed that the work of the Education Service Centers that created CSCOPE hasn’t been transparent. They suggest that the educators running those service centers have engaged in some sort of legal and financial malfeasance even though they offer no evidence to support such a reckless claim.

But where is the transparency when it comes to CSCOPE’s critics? Who, for example, is paying Voices Empower to go after CSCOPE (and Ratliff)? Linahan calls the debate over CSCOPE “a battle for the hearts and minds of our children.” But we think it’s a fair question now to ask: did she help manufacture this absurd “controversy” because she was concerned for “the hearts and minds of our children” or for profit?

Unfair questions? Any less fair than smearing teachers as somehow trying to turn kids into Marxist, anti-American Muslims?

These questions are important. After all, killing CSCOPE could force school districts to spend considerably more money on similar products provided by for-profit companies. The taxpayers in those districts have a right to know who’s causing that to happen and why.