Right-Wingers Target Two GOP Texas Ed Board Members, Accuse Them of Promoting ‘Socialist Ideology’

Right-wing activists are angry with a couple of Republican members of the State Board of Education who have refused to hop on their crazy train. The source of their anger (right now, anyway) is CSCOPE, the curriculum management tool that we reported about last month. CSCOPE is a product of a collaboration of regional Education Service Centers created by the state in the 1960s. Many Texas school districts use CSCOPE. Some teachers have found it very helpful, while others don’t like it for a variety of pedagogical reasons. But during a state board committee hearing on November 15, right-wing political activists attacked the program for supposedly promoting Marxism and radical Islam while trying to undermine America and Christianity. One speaker even compared CSCOPE to Nazi Germany.

Some board members — not surprisingly, considering the board’s recent history as a “culture war” battleground — encouraged and even fed off of those outrageous attacks. Other board members, however, defended the program or at least tried to separate legitimate concerns from the hysterical political claims. For example, they insisted that CSCOPE developers do a better job making sure school districts understand that parents can review the curriculum materials used by their children. They also probed CSCOPE’s processes for identifying errors and making any necessary corrections.

That’s all good, of course, but not enough for the political extremists who might have brought pitchforks and torches to the meeting if they had been allowed. Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen a variety of emails and online rants that continue the political attacks on CSCOPE. Then last weekend an activist published a post on her blog — Red Hot Conservative — attacking two Republican board members in particular: Pat Hardy of Fort Worth and Thomas Ratliff of Mount Pleasant. Hardy, an educator, has said that the quality of CSCOPE has improved over the years and that many teachers and districts find it useful. Ratliff tried to dispel some of the myths being circulated by CSCOPE critics.

“Ginger,” Red Hot Conservative’s blogger, calls Hardy and Ratliff “RINOs,” or “Republicans In Name Only.” Excerpts from her post:

“The curriculum [CSCOPE] is pro Islamic, anti Christian with a globalist agenda from K-12.”

“RINO RATLIFF supports Indoctrinating Tx School Children with socialist ideology.”

“Patricia Hardy promotes the indoctrination of a progressive, socialist curriculum called Cscope in Texas Schools.”

Religious-righters have been critical of Hardy for years, especially after she refused to bow to their demands that science curriculum standards adopted in 2009 require students to study so-called “weaknesses” of evolution — creationist arguments that scientists long ago debunked. They hate Ratliff even more because he defeated arch-creationist Don McLeroy’s re-election bid in the 2010 Republican Primary. Anyone who really knows Hardy and Ratliff, however, will laugh at absurd claims that they favor teaching “socialist ideology” or anything of the like in classrooms. Hardy traces her Republican roots back at least to Barry Goldwater’s conservative run for the presidency in 1964. Ratliff comes from a prominent Republican family in East Texas and has spent the last two years criticizing what he sees as government overreach that is undermining local control over public schools. And the two share something else: a disdain for political hysteria. Unfortunately for them, when the crazy crawls out of the fever swamps in Texas, it often makes a beeline for the State Board of Education.

25 thoughts on “Right-Wingers Target Two GOP Texas Ed Board Members, Accuse Them of Promoting ‘Socialist Ideology’

  1. Oh Hardy is an educator. No wonder the whack-jobs don’t like her. She actually has reality contact, something that is big minus for the evangelical crowd.

    Yeah sure, the earth is only 6,000 years old. And any minute now monkeys are going to fly out of…….

    1. Well, what do you expect people to think when their social studies curriculum suggests the Boston Tea Party was conducted by terrorists?

      This is from a Social Studies Teachers Lesson Plan from CSCOPE:

      Below is the “news report” which the teacher reads to the class and then they discuss it with the students:

      News report: A local militia, believed to be a terrorist organization,
      attacked the property of private citizens today at the port. Although no one
      was injured in the attack, a large quantity of merchandise, considered to be
      valuable to its owners and loathsome to the perpetrators, was destroyed.
      The terrorists, dressed as natives and apparently intoxicated, were able to
      escape into the night with the help of local citizens who harbor these
      fugitives and conceal their identities from the authorities. It is believed that
      the terrorist attack was a response to the policies enacted by the
      occupying country’s government.

      After class discussion, the teacher covers this:

      Instructional Procedures Notes for Teacher
      • Does this event in the news report meet the criteria of a terrorist
      attack? Why or why not?
      • Does anyone know if this act is from a previous time in our history?
      (It is the Boston Tea Party.)
      • Do you think that in the eyes of the British that the Boston Tea Party
      was a terrorist activity? Why or why not? Were the colonists justified
      in taking this action due to their beliefs? Is anyone ever justified in
      committing these types of activities? What drives people to do this
      type of activity? These are things that we will explore further.

      1. Nancy: It doesn’t appear that the lesson, if it has been accurately reported in your comment, is suggesting that the Boston Tea Party was a terrorist act. The questions you list from the lesson seem designed to get students to consider for themselves what THEY think is a terrorist act and what isn’t. Perhaps the context of this lesson explores the concept of how people perceive actions and events in different ways. Presumably, students at this point in the class will have learned about the Boston Tea Party and the ideals and convictions that were behind the actions of those involved. But we don’t know any of this because you haven’t provided the context. That’s one of the problems we saw when CSCOPE critics testified before the SBOE’s Committee on Instruction last month. Context-free “examples” such as this one — especially when they appear to be misconstrued — simply fuel hysteria rather than illuminate an issue in ways that are truly useful.

        1. You are correct Dan. I went over to her website to take a look at the specific items she was concerned about per CSCOPE. Not only are you dealing with people who have a problem with disassociation from context. It was clear to me that they have a poor understanding of facts and an inability to think in certain ways that intelligent people learn how to think about issues in college. They could all benefit from several good courses in analyzing and interpreting English literature—or any kind of literature for that matter. I bet these anti-CSCOPE people mostly quit their education with a high school diploma or majored in some aspect of business,religion, medicine, or engineering in college. This sort of misunderstanding is typical with such people.

        2. See Steve’s post below. He knows how to analyze things, think critically, and actually understand what is really happening in what he reads. Anyone with a college degree and a 3.96 GPA can do it, which probably excludes most people who are against CSCOPE.

        3. Seriously! Did you read the same assignment? (Which is an actual assignment!). It leads the mind to a preconceived notion. One of complete fallacy and distortion s of any truth! It states, in the article… “TERRORISTS” “INTOXICATED”, both are absolutely untrue! It leaves out CRITICAL information of the WHY! Why and what! Adults would have been led to believe that this group of thugs were not only terrorists, but liars, phonies, haters, & so much more! For a child, there is no doubt where this would lead them! WAKE UP! Excessive that brain and free thought! Dust off those critical thinking skills, as well as your research abilities! Now, go do some true research, leaving ones own preconceptions behind! Please!

          1. Divided We Will Fall writes: “Dust off those critical thinking skills.” That appears to be what the lesson is trying to get students to do. But you seem to have already surrendered to your own “preconceptions.”

  2. The CSCOPE lesson doesn’t suggest that the Boston Tea Party was a terrorist act. Instead, it gives students a hypothetical press release factually consistent with the historical event and asks students a number of questions that promote critical thinking. Today there are different and conflicting definitions of terrorism. For example, is the state of Israel a terrorist country (since it attacks non-belligerents with heavy arms, it assassinates enemies of Israel, has used state terror as a weapon against Palestinians, etc.)? Israel itself defines terrorism in a way that excludes states, so Israel cannot be terrorist by its own definition. Is this also true of Iran? North Korea? You see the difficulty. I’m sure that the British thought the Bostonians who drowned the tea were something like what today we would term terrorists (since the word was not in use in Colonial time).

    This resistance to historical analysis exactly mimics the reaction of the Tea Party Republicans to the descriptions of Christianity as a “cult” to which they really object (I read some of the critiques of CSCOPE found at http://www.txcscopereview.com/). Some of the historical references used by CSOPE refer to Christianity as a cult. A cult is a religion with small numbers of adherents and no political power, which is exactly what Christianity was when it began. It eventually grew out of cult status. Fundamentalist Christians still consider Mormonism, Scientology, and Unity to be cults, but experts classify these as fully-established religions today.

    Whether someone or something is a “terrorist” or “cult” is in the eye of the beholder. It is impossible to have a rational discussion unless terms are defined. Critical thinking demands that someone analyzing controversial events and subjects look at them from a variety of viewpoints. Tea Party Republicans and religious Fundamentalists tend to see events and subjects as black and white, while historians see different shades of gray. This is at bottom a dispute of how one perceives reality and understands history, ethics, nature, etc.

    1. Maybe you might want to re-read the CScope snippet above, once again. Read it, w/o prior knowledge of the event. Want info is being given to the reader- (keep in mind, also, that the reader, is a child. Not that, sadly, many adults would take this report as gospel)? What is the tone? Is a certain perception being fed to the reader? Is the information given, & the way it is written, leading the reader to a certain perception- or, is it neutral? And, knowing the true events- is it factual? (Big, fat, NO)! Is it explaining the whole story? (Another, absolutely, big fat NO!)!

      If anyone that reads the assignment, given thru Cscope, doesn’t see the beyond obvious slant, than maybe they might want to reevaluate their own ability to discern facts, understand the art of being led, and compare that to neutrality! And work on their own critical thinking abilities!

  3. I cannot attach a file or I would attach the actual lesson plan from CSCOPE. It does not say what grade it is for but is states “World History” and “Social Studies.” There is an “HS” on some of the pages so it could be for high school. I’m sorry but anything that even implies to our students that the Boston Tea Party participants were “terrorists,” which in my opinion it does, is just wrong. And I feel that teaching students that people who fight back against tyranny are terrorists is immoral.

    1. Nancy: Again, based on what you posted, it doesn’t appear that students are being taught any such thing. It looks like an exercise in critical thinking, something we didn’t see enough of during the SBOE’s committee hearing on CSCOPE.

  4. There’s a couple of proverbs (various forms and attributions) about judging a person by the qualities of the enemies they make. From her current batch, Hardy may be evolving from the Slightly Silly Party faction to the Slightly Sensible Party faction.

  5. Nancy:
    How do you think history classes should present the “clearing” of Native Americans from desireable farmlands over the period from 1630 or so up to the 1900’s? Should the curriculum never mention things like the Sioux Wars or the Trail of Tears? What about the slave trade? What sort of presentation should 16-year-old kids get on that?

    1. They should get the truth. Unbiased facts would be a good start. I don’t believe in glossing over anything. But it’s one thing to talk about the Indians being purged from their lands and then, in a lesson plan on terrorism, to use the Boston Tea Party as your first example. If there was a lesson plan regarding “terrorism” and they posed a news story about, say, Hamas or Al Qaeda, but then later to explain the distinction between terrorism and civil disobedience to free yourself from tyranny, fine. What occurred at the Boston Tea Party was a “PROTEST” against tyrannical overreach by an out of control government.

  6. “And I feel that teaching students that people who fight back against tyranny are terrorists is immoral.”

    So were the mujahideen fighting the Russians in the 80’s terrorists, or does the name apply to only those that went on to become Taliban members? Both? Neither?

    That snippet of a lesson plan looks pretty good to me. If you get kids started thinking,, no telling how good a society we can build.

  7. Nancy. I really feel sorry for you. You appear to me to be one of the many people who have been deluded into thinking the purpose of all media is to demonstrate to people what they should think, what they should believe, and how they should live their lives.

    The CSCOPE text is not designed to teach “people who fight back against tyranny are terrorists is immoral.” Every left wing radical that posts here on TFN Insider knows how to fight back against the tyranny that is trying to be imposed by immoral radical right wing nut jobs. If CSCOPE taught us how not to do that, we must have failed the lessons.

    I hope you will have some boiled custard with your spotted dick this Christmas.

  8. Folks…. she doesn’t get it and likely never will. She doesn’t see how ‘one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’. Freedom fighters that “PROTEST” against her paradigm are terrorists, period. It must make things so simple to be critical of critical thinking.

    But back to the story line- that of the Red Mad blogger: the agile, speedy uber-right tea party has caught it’s own tail once again. Let the feasting begin!

  9. Nancy’s interpretation of the lesson and its purpose does not agree with mine, but she is no less intelligent and no less committed to good lessons for having that opinion, so I will not demonize her!

    In my opinion–from the quoted date she provides, the subject is “Analyze and Evaluate” (that phrase I introduced during the science debates which led to such heated discussion)–in this case as applied to historic events. Students need to learn the appropriate use of descriptive (and pejorative)words (like “terrorism”),and when to choose alternative labels. This lesson appears to do that well.

  10. Wow. No one has mentioned how CSCOPE is damaging my children’s ability to choose right or wrong answers on their exams. There is no black and white with CSCOPE. Grey prevails. MY CHILDREN HAVE BEEN DAMAGED INTELLECTUALLY BY THIS CURRICULUM!! And others!! I will have you know I graduated from college with a 4.0 and first in my class so I do not fit into your stereotype mentioned above. I do not go to church. I could see through this wicked curriculum almost from day one. My smart, free thinking, creative children are being turned into little zombies thanks to this curriculum. It is not just me noticing it. Our town is fighting back. We are demanding a new curriculum be implemented. If we do not get rid of this you will really see a great divide. How about an average of 1 family per week in our town putting their children in private schools or driving to a school an hour away that does not use this curriculum. It is socialistic. It is obvious. If you don’t see it maybe you should really question if you are a true American. Maybe you should move to a Country that can better accommodate your needs.

  11. “There is no black and white with CSCOPE. Grey prevails.”

    “I do not go to church.”

    “I could see through this wicked curriculum.”

    I find it hard to believe in that 4.0 GPA because you are not even a passable liar.

  12. Well I am sorry you feel that way Charles. It looks like judging people is what you do best. I am sure you are proud that you are good at something at the expense of others. Do you have children in school?

  13. Judging? I was just evaluating what you said. I have rarely ever encountered anyone who sees the world in black and white terms and uses words such as “wicked” unless they are some sort of fundie. Fundies attend church in vast numbers.

    Yes, I have children. However, to the best of my knowledge, CSCOPE is not used in our local Tennessee school system. I had never even heard of it until the subject was brought up here at TFN Insider.

    After looking at the content of it for the first time, my first reaction to it was:

    “Gosh, this is so weird, flaky, and cheesey in nature. Why would anyone want this?”

    However, I would not jump to the quick conclusions that you did about some dark Marxist/socialist conspiracy to make liberal robots out of our kids. I think that is ideologically delusional at best.

    It looks to me more like something that was developed by now elderly 1965 Haight-Ashbury, free-love hippies in a series of 10-week group sessions fed with the mental fog from marijuana brownies and maybe a few LSD flashbacks by group leaders. A lot of people like that are still out here and actually went into various professions—including education and curriculum development. They do not want Karl Marx. They are just people who still enjoy a good time with herbs and “like want world peace for everyone m-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-n.”

    I am not saying it is right. However, it is a plausible explanation for why CSCOPE is so weird.

    1. “Weird”is screwing with my elementary kids learning their “fundies”.Are you a radical left winger?? Just curious….I dont think it is about pot smoking hippies but more about control. It is working. This weird curriculum has taken over almost 3/4 of our public schools in Texas. Just dig a little deeper.