Maybe sometimes a far-right politician can be too extreme even for Texas Republicans.

On Tuesday state Rep. Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands, lost big in the Republican runoff race for a Texas Senate seat north of Houston. State Rep. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, won in a landslide, getting about 67 percent of the vote to Toth’s 33 percent to earn the GOP nomination for the District 4 Senate seat.

Both candidates promoted their tea party bona fides during the campaign. But Toth’s record is, frankly, downright nutty. Last year, for example, Toth was a leading legislative critic of CSCOPE, the curriculum management tool created through a collaboration of state Education Service Centers. The vast majority — nearly 900 — of Texas school districts have used CSCOPE. But tea partyers and other far-right activists manufactured a witch hunt that succeeded in gutting the program. They complained that the program’s lessons were anti-American and anti-Christian and promoted Marxism and Islam. Toth bought into that nonsense and became a major backer of the witch hunt, although a State Board of Education-sponsored review later found that the politically charged claims were bogus.

Toth also tells a ridiculous story to promote his opposition to sex education that includes information about birth control. During the 2013 legislative session, Toth said his… Read More

It’s sometimes hard to know whether candidates for the State Board of Education (SBOE) in Texas really believe the crazy things they say. Today, for example, the Texas Tribune quotes Eric Mahroum of Fort Worth explaining one of the reasons why he’s running for the District 11 seat on the SBOE:

“You have CSCOPE teaching our children that communism is okay, that the 9/11 terrorists were freedom fighters. That does not need to be in the curriculum.”

Oh, for crying out loud. Mahroum — who is challenging incumbent Pat Hardy of Fort Worth in the May 27 Republican runoff — is basing his campaign on a discredited political witch hunt hatched by wackaloons who see communists and radical Muslims hiding behind every tree (or school door)? Yeah, apparently so.

For two years political extremists, politicians (and here) and for-profit political consultants (hmmm…) have been screaming that the CSCOPE curriculum management system is filled with anti-American, anti-Christian, pro-Islamic and pro-Marxist lessons. More than 800 school districts across the state have used CSCOPE, which includes lessons written by current and retired Texas teachers (all well-known Marxist Islamic radicals, of course). Superintendents in… Read More

For well over a year, right-wing activists and pandering politicians like Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and state Sen. Dan Patrick have loudly and recklessly complained that a popular curriculum tool used in hundreds of Texas schools is filled with anti-American, Marxist and pro-Islamic bias. Now a formal review of lessons from the CSCOPE curriculum program confirms that lies and distortions were behind many of the attacks.

An Austin-American Statesman review of the final reports from the State Board of Education’s review exposes just how baseless the attacks on CSCOPE’s lessons were. From the article:

More than 140 volunteers — parents, educators, business people and others appointed by members of the State Board of Education — combed through 431 social studies lessons from all grades in search of bias and errors. Their findings were posted online at in late January.

Fewer than 10 of the panelists found evidence of pervasive liberal bias; the other 130 or so did not.

“They used public schools and kids as pawns in their political games and now they have moved on to something else,” said State Board of Education member Thomas Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant, who opposed Patrick during a… Read More

Austin public radio station KUT is airing and streaming online a new documentary about the right’s long-running culture war over public education in Texas. “The Long Game: Texas’ Ongoing Battle for the Direction of the Classroom,” by award-winning producer Trey Kay, looks at the ongoing political witch hunt over CSCOPE as well as the divisive battle over content in textbooks for Texas public schools.

KUT aired the documentary Sunday evening and will re-air it at 7 p.m. Tuesday. If you’re not in the KUT listening area, you can tune in online at kut.orgThe full documentary is also online here and below.

The hour-long program begins with a focus on right-wing attacks on CSCOPE but moves on to discuss how Mel and Norma Gabler helped politicize the adoption of textbooks in Texas decades ago. The East Texas couple — now deceased — founded Educational Research Analysts, which is run today by their protégé Neal Frey in Longview. (Click here for more background information on Educational Research Analysts.) The documentary also examines the battle over what science textbooks should teach about evolution in public school classrooms.

The documentary, which includes comments from Texas Freedom Network President… Read More

It’s always important to look for the real motivations behind witch hunts. Example: Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) Chairwoman Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, wants to use the right’s manufactured “outrage” over the CSCOPE curriculum tool to loosen restrictions on the ability of SBOE members to censor textbooks for public schools.

Writing in her September “Cargill Connection” e-newsletter to supporters, Cargill says that “now is the time to ride the wave of public concern and outrage about CSCOPE,” a curriculum management system used in hundreds of public and private schools across Texas. Tea party and other right-wing activists have waged a year-long war against CSCOPE, absurdly claiming that the program is anti-American and anti-Christian and promotes Marxism and Islam.

Reporters have accurately noted that critics have provided“scant evidence to back up those assertions.” Even so, Cargill has also criticized CSCOPE, including its failure to include what she considers “another side” in its coverage of evolution — in other words, creationist arguments against evolution that scientists debunked long ago.

Now, Cargill insists in her e-newsletter, anti-CSCOPE activists should focus on giving the SBOE more power to edit content in textbooks used… Read More