Texas AG Greg Abbott Brags About Helping a Witch Hunt Undermine Local Control in Texas Schools

by Dan Quinn

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s is engaged in an awfully cynical and abusive game. Now the state’s chief law enforcement officer is actually bragging that “we beat back CSCOPE,” referring to a decision by the state’s Education Service Centers to eliminate a key component of a program 877 school districts — nearly 80 percent of all Texas school districts — have been using.

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Never mind the silly comparison of CSCOPE to the Common Core standards. They have nothing to do with each other. CSCOPE’s purpose is to help school districts teach to the Texas curriculum standards.

No, the ridiculous thing about Abbott’s tweet is that he’s proud that political bullying by him, state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, and a number of tea party and other right-wing pressure groups has gutted a tool that many small and mid-size school districts found useful. Honest people can disagree on how useful CSCOPE has been, with some teachers liking the program and others not. The point here is that local school districts had been able to make the decision about whether CSCOPE’s lesson plans were useful and appropriate for their students. They can’t anymore, and Attorney General Abbott is bragging about that.

It doesn’t matter to critics who screamed about transparency that the Education Service Centers (ESCs) were making all CSCOPE lessons available online for all to see. It doesn’t make any difference, apparently, that the ESCs were voluntarily submitting all CSCOPE lessons to the State Board of Education for review. The bullying continued until the ESCs threw up their hands and said “we surrender.” And Abbott is bragging about it.

He’s bragging about a witch hunt in which political activists wildly distorted CSCOPE’s lessons and dishonestly smeared the Texas teachers who wrote them, absurdly suggesting that those teachers were trying to indoctrinate students into Marxism and Islam. In a reasonable political world, Abbott and Patrick would be laughed out of office.

Sadly, it’s about to get worse. Anti-CSCOPE fanatics, their feverish minds working in overdrive, are calling the folks who work at the Education Service Centers “a devious group” with “poisonous fangs embedded in our Texas Schools.” They’re screaming that teachers might actually keep CSCOPE lessons they find useful. Horrors! Trust teachers to know what’s appropriate to use in their own classrooms? Not these fanatics. They see bogeymen behind every school door. But Abbott is bragging.

We’re also seeing calls to get rid of CSCOPE completely — not just the lessons, but also the CSCOPE guides that help school districts map out how to cover all of the state’s cumbersome and unwieldy curriculum standards in the course of a school year. Never mind that local school officials are scrambling just to replace CSCOPE lesson plans in an efficient, cost-effective way. Private companies are already circling, shopping similar products that will almost certainly cost taxpayers more money. But Abbott is bragging.

Some critics are even suggesting that the Education Service Centers themselves — created by the state in the 1960s to provide needed services to school districts — should be shut down. And they’re preparing attacks on other curriculum programs, using their CSCOPE witch hunt as a model. But Abbott is bragging.

If anyone wants to see how politicians and fanatics can wreck a state’s education system, just look to Texas. Heck, they even brag about it here.