Local Writer Pleads: Stop the Political War on CSCOPE, Deal with the Real Problems Facing Public Schools

A writer for the Wise County Messenger near Fort Worth makes some good points in a column on the CSCOPE “controversy” that tea party activists and other right-wing activists have been pushing across the state. It’s worth a read.

After attending a community meeting where activists promised to provide the “truth” about CSCOPE, writer Brian Knox came away frustrated that “there are real concerns about our education system that seem to be overshadowed by these conspiracy theories with no basis in fact.” He wrote about the CSCOPE meeting:

“Despite her assurances that this crusade ‘is not political,’ the presentation by Alice Linahan of Women on the Wall was clearly geared to a Tea Party crowd. Overreaching federal government. Hidden agendas. Wasteful spending. Anti-American. Anti-Christian. Foreign-born educators having access to our children. These were all topics Alice associated either with CSCOPE or the other ‘progressive’ education techniques such as ’21st Century Learning’ being implemented in our schools.”

Knox says claims that Texas students “are being ‘indoctrinated’ by the “communist-inspired’ teaching methods of educators who associate with known terrorists” are “hogwash.” He goes on to plead for more rational discussion and less politics in efforts to improve public education for Texas kids:

“I wish Alice and others who are ‘taking up the battle’ traveling around the state spreading their own version of ‘truth’ would spend more time in the classrooms and school board meetings listening to the concerns of local teachers, students, school board members and administrators rather than telling them what they should be doing (or more specifically, what they shouldn’t be doing). And I wish the education community would listen more to these concerns and respond accordingly.”

Not surprisingly, some of the comments posted in response by CSCOPE critics aren’t encouraging. One claims that if folks “do research into the history of education, educational reform, UNESCO, socialism, the inception of public education, where current groups are getting their funding, etc., we might learn some things.”

Yeah. Sure. The solution is to “research” all the right-wing bogeymen. UNESCO! Socialism! Public education!

Good grief.

Mr. Knox’s pleas might fail to sway the culture warriors, but he makes some good points. Check it out here.

4 thoughts on “Local Writer Pleads: Stop the Political War on CSCOPE, Deal with the Real Problems Facing Public Schools

  1. Well said. As Jerome Stern wrote in Harper’s many years ago when I was teaching, “And they do want them to know all about this great land of ours so they will be patriotic, but they don’t want them to learn about the tragedy and pain in its real history because then they will be critical about this great land of ours and we will be passively taken over by a foreign power…”

  2. The irony here is that CSCOPE was likely the only way the radical right had to control the curriculum in public schools. At least the CSCOPE lessons aligned with the TEKS. Now, teachers will likely turn to open source materials over which there is absolutely no local or state control. The Internet is a big, big place!

  3. As a TFN member and a retired teacher who now subs this topic makes me feel guilty because I like many teachers dislike Cscope! This witch hunt about it is nuts because in my experience it was the most conservative teachers who were adamant about following Cscope to a “T” and ready to turn in teachers who were veering off the track. I found the Cscope lessons to be shallow and often illogical, but definitely not subversive( I taught ELA). Many districts were very heavy-handed about it- follow Cscope lessons plans and use the poorly written tests or receive poor evaluations. A lot of important material is not covered because of the dizzying pace that Cscope requires. Now that I’m retired and sub in many subjects I’ve seen many really good teachers frustrated because they had to drop so many creative and challenging units. Certainly it does give new teachers a place to start and it’s a great resource for experienced teachers. However, had not Cscope encouraged districts in this forceful approach
    ( one Cscope designer came from my district),more teachers would be protesting this war on Cscope.

    1. MMK,
      Thanks for your perspective on this. We’re aware that a number of teachers don’t like CSCOPE (for a variety of reasons), and we have always supported efforts to improve the program where it can be. The political witch hunt, with all the distortions about lessons supposedly being anti-American, Marxist, pro-Islam, etc., has been what has alarmed us. Because so many districts and educators have said they find the program useful, our preference has been for local administrators and teachers to work with the CSCOPE developers to improve the program and ensure that parents have the ability to review their children’s lessons. If districts don’t think the program is suitable for their classrooms, they should (and do) have the right not to use it. But the political smear campaign against CSCOPE and the teachers who helped write the lessons has been outrageous.

      In any case, thanks very much for posting your thoughts, MMK. You have highlighted some reasonable concerns we’ve heard from other educators. That kind of feedback is valuable for everyone interested in this issue to see.