The Texas State Board of Education‘s last meeting of 2012 could be a case of, as Yogi Berra might say, déjà vu all over again.
In 2010 the state board’s far-right faction rammed through approval of an outrageous resolution falsely claiming that history textbooks are “anti-Christian” and “pro-Muslim.” Besides the fact that the resolution was based on absurd distortions and falsehoods, among the board members supporting it were those who served on the board when it had approved the textbooks years earlier.
Now, just two weeks after the November 6 general elections, religious-righters are planning to descend on the board with more complaints about supposed pro-Islamic bias in Texas public schools. This time their target is CSCOPE, a curriculum system developed through the collaboration of Education Service Centers in Texas. The program’s developers describe CSCOPE as “a comprehensive, customized, user-friendly curriculum support system. In addition to the curriculum, CSCOPE encompasses resources for the implementation, monitors the curriculum and establishes an accountability process to ensure a quality implementation.” We assume there are legitimate arguments for and against the program. Indeed, some teachers like it, while others don’t. TFN neither supports nor opposes it. (We welcome comments below from people — especially teachers — who use or are otherwise familiar with the program.)
But it looks like some folks want to turn CSCOPE into the newest “culture war” battle at the State Board of Education. Apparently, they plan to come to Austin to speak before the State Board of Education’s Committee on Instruction on Thursday (November 15). Below are excerpts from an email being circulated to various ministers and others in Texas. One of the recipients forwarded the email to us. We’re trying to track the source.
Subject: Letter Of Request To All Christians In Texas
On November 15, 2012 at 2:00 p. m. many teachers, parents, and community leaders will go to Austin, Texas to speak before the State Board of Education. Their goal is to expose the true intent of a program called C-SCOPE. This program is currently being used in over 2/3rd of the schools in Texas. It is based on humanistic, socialistic, and Marxist philosophy and ideology. This program pushes students to question authority as well as a clear definition of what is right and what is wrong. Actual lessons are obviously anti-Christian and pro-Islamic. Parents are isolated from the true intent of this program because textbooks have been eliminated.
Homework has been minimized. Examination of what is being taught is extremely difficult. Teachers are forced to sign a document that keeps them from speaking the truth. Then they are intimidated with a monitoring system called the Three-Minute Walk-through. Objections from parents and teachers, who are brave enough to speak out, are either ignored or intimidated into silence.
Students are being dumbed-down with “fuzzy-math.” Evaluations, on how well they interact socially, take precedent over the traditional objective-testing of basic knowledge. The use of materials, from highly-suspect liberal sources, is indoctrinating the students without one single review committee. The mental and emotional stress placed on students is showing up in gastro-intestinal problems. The mental and emotional stress on teachers is showing up in a number of negative ways. All of this is being done in the name of money, ignorance, and power.
If you are a Christian, pray for those who are speaking.
If you are not a Christian, consider seeking the truth in all things.
The email then calls on Christians to contact the State Board of Education and demand a “full legislative examination” of CSCOPE “so that the public can be made aware of the intent and consequences of this program.”
The State Board of Education has no authority whatsoever over the program. But we’ll see whether some board members want to plunge into yet another “culture war” battle anyway.
TFN will be at the meeting on Thursday — we’ll let you know what happens.
8 thoughts on “Texas Religious-righters Rally the Troops about ‘Pro-Islamic,’ ‘Humanistic,’ ‘Marxist’ Curriculum”
Wish more people could see, “The Revisionists”! Maybe that would get them to more carefully consider the candidate resumes and vote wisely when there are elections that include open seats on the SBOE.
In a free country where we can all have our own ideas about anything, none of the things they just listed should be “bad.”
Republicans hate us for our freedoms.
“This program pushes students to question authority as well as a clear definition of what is right and what is wrong.”
So the religious right does not want kids questioning authority, or what they are being taught. And yet that is the essence of education. These are the same people that would have us believe fundamentalist preachers are teaching the absolute Christian truth each Sunday.
Joseph Priestley, the brilliant scientist and founder of Unitarianism, stressed questioning that which is in the Bible. To his way of thinking if it didn’t make logical sense then it should not be part of one’s belief system.
Jefferson, Washington, Madison and Ben Franklin were all men of science. Franklin’s achievments are well known but the three Virginians were contstantly charting weather patterns, crop outputs and a ton of other things in order to increase crop yields on their plantations. And not just farm related; they all had inquiring, scientific minds.
These men were all Enlightenment thinkers. They valued reason and science over faith and revelation. That is what ultimately made our country so great.
Promoting a “don’t question authority” mentality is doing nothing other than promoting ignorance. The state of Texas really needs to get out of the Dark Ages.
but of course they will … boo!
As a math geek, the bit about “fuzzy math” did get my attention. The debate about mathematics curricula has been ongoing for about fifty years now, at least since Tom Lehrer first sang “The New Math”. (The real joke: in college, my friends and I found the song perfectly straightforward to follow.) A quick whack at Google turned up one of the sites critical of CSCOPE, here.
The objection does not appear to give specific examples, but merely objects to Interactive and discovery learning – “fuzzy” math and rejects memorization, as opposed to the more traditional approach of Direct Instruction of math concepts, formulas, and facts and prefers “drill and skill” of necessary facts. This suggests that the emphasis is likely not on teaching “the area of a triangle is one half of the product of base and height”, but emphasizing the process by which the relationship is derived. The preference between them is a design choice; however, the latter is more suitable when students are expected to have the potential to continue their mathematical education to more advanced topics. Poking at the CSCOPE portal does not turn up everything, but does turn up some math material — primarily, a list of relatively mundane and unremarkable math standards, likely directly from TEKS or equivalent.
The critics do have some fair if cheap shots elsewhere, about the rate of typos in testing materials; and having the teachers sign NDA contracts without allowing any outside counsel is really quite sketchy. But those are cosmetic. The main issue appears to be culture shock over the notion that the curriculum used to teach previous generations was not necessarily the ultimate optimum for education, and had places where what the previous generation learned was either incomplete or incorrect.
In short: this part is the usual reactionary conservatism to change. It is different, and therefore worse. This is as fundamentally daft as the occasional hyperprogressive liberalism that concludes it is different, and therefore better.
The fundamental objections to the questioning of authority is a separate matter, and a larger can of worms. However, there’s possibly a relation there: they seem like students who simply want to give the answers to the math problem, without having to show the steps in the reasoning that prove from the more basic premises why that answer is correct and complete.
Particularly when their answer may not be.
Keep in mind that to religious conservatives, obedience is a virtue. Given that, this is really no surprise, is it?
The Texas Republican Party has a plank in its platform prohibiting the teaching of CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS in Texas schools. I don’t know what the CSCOPE program is, however, it sounds as though with students learning how to question “authority,” it is a GOOD thing!
When I was in school a few centuries ago (at least it seems that long ago) anyone who questioned ANYTHING was instantly thrown out of class and sent to the principal.
Not being a Christian, I objected to being forced to participate in things that were clearly Christian things, such as having to say the “Lord’s Prayer” or being forced to participate in Christmas or Easter plays, etc. When I objected, I was punished.
The SBOE as currently existing would have probably had me drawn and quartered! I’ve always thought for myself, even at a young age.
Them getting their tights in a wad over kids questioning “authority” makes me think back to the Nazis and other fascist and communist states where people were and are condemned for daring to ask questions, to buck authority. Ja vol!
There is very little to distinguish the GOP in Texas from the wrong-thinking funny-mentalist Xianity that is being foisted on Texans. Our jerk of a governor seems to believe that EVERYONE in Texas agrees with him. I sure as hell do not. He reminds me of that Bush guy who had a “Jesus Day” in Texas, thinking that every Texan is a funny-mental Xian. I use the term Xian to distinguish them from Christians who, IMHO, can be pretty nice people.
The funny-mental guy who stands up and spouts nonsense at the 1st Baptist Church of Dallas is another one of those Xians who bends with the political winds. He confuses the Republican party with Christianity. Jesus, according to him was a tight-fisted, mean who was so conservative that he wouldn’t give a piece of bread to a man dying of hunger, nor would he heal anyone.
You can read it for yourself in the gospel of the GOP.
According to what I’ve read of the man, he was a liberal socialist. READ what he is said to have done and you cannot come away with any other description of the guy.
But the guy in Dallas who called Romney’s religion a “cult” and then embraced him as a fellow Christian is a two-faced bigot. I’d love him to sue me for saying the above. I am suit-proof as I own NOTHING, nada, zilch, bupkas.
And that is my six cents worth. (Inflation, ‘ya know)
The big problem with c-scope is it put parents inthe dark about what their children are being taught. We are taken out of the equation. And some of the information is our right false. I could go n.. It is an insamne mess. that needs to be done way with.