Texas SBOE Vice Chair Ratliff Rips Sen. Patrick Again Over CSCOPE Witch Hunt: Bullying and Burning Books

Texas State Board of Education Vice Chairman Thomas Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant, has already made clear his disgust over the political witch hunt that forced the state’s Education Service Centers to stop writing lesson plans in their CSCOPE curriculum management system. In May, for example, he tore into Senate Education Committee Chairman Dan Patrick, R-Houston, for his role in those attacks on CSCOPE, which hundreds of Texas school districts have been using. Now Ratliff has written another scathing piece, this time about Patrick’s efforts to bully and harass teachers into not using CSCOPE lessons that have already been created.

This is a “must read.” Ratliff isn’t pulling any punches. (Links, italics, boldface and underlining in original.)


By Thomas Ratliff, Vice Chairman, Texas State Board of Education

Our country was founded on a “no-bullying” policy when our founders stood up to an English King who tried to bully us. Our military has helped other countries stand up to bullies throughout history. Even today, every Texas public school has a “no bullying” policy for protection of their students.

It’s time for parents, educators, and school board members to stand up to another bully. Senator Dan Patrick. To be fair, there are some things he has done to help public education. However, the majority of his efforts are designed to bully all of us to agree with him on things like vouchers, taxpayer savings grants, charter schools, and finally CSCOPE. Senator Patrick, who has no schools who use CSCOPE in his district, first set out to “improve” but ultimately destroyed a tool used by 80% of the school districts in Texas. I have referred to his effort as a “21st century book burning.” Let me explain.

In 1933, the German Student Association proclaimed a nationwide “Action against the Un-German Spirit”, which was to climax in a literary purge or “cleansing” by fire. The students described the “action” as a response to a worldwide “smear campaign” against Germany and an affirmation of “traditional German values.” In a symbolic act, the students burned upwards of 25,000 volumes of “un-German” books, presaging an era of state censorship and control of culture. At the meeting places, students threw the pillaged and unwanted books into the bonfires with great joyous ceremony.

Let’s fast-forward 80 years. Earlier this year, Senator Patrick held Senate hearings intended to grill supporters and creators of CSCOPE about a variety of issues. Some of the issues were legitimate, others contrived, exaggerated or taken out of context. He later went on Fox News to talk about the hearings and there was a banner below the Senator’s face that read, “Texas Lawmakers hold hearings into allegedly anti-American curriculum.” Then, just last month he held a press conference celebrating the “end of the CSCOPE era.” You could even call it a joyous ceremony. At the press conference, Senator Patrick even said, “What the legislature has learned…is we have to monitor what is being taught in our classrooms before the fact very closely with the same scrutiny as we did with our textbooks in the past.”

Back to 1933. The burning of the books represented a culmination of the persecution of those authors whose verbal or written opinions were opposed to a particular ideology. Many artists, writers and scientists were banned from working and publication. Their works could no longer be found in libraries or in the curricula of schools or universities. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Who were some of the persecuted authors? Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Earnest Hemingway and Upton Sinclair. Not exactly radicals.

I think a quote by Upton Sinclair clearly describes what is happening here. His quote, “It’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his paycheck depends on his not understanding it.” If you substitute the word “paycheck” with “re-election” “conservative rating” or “number of Facebook friends,” you start to understand the motive behind Senator Patrick wanting to eliminate CSCOPE lessons.

Censorship is censorship, regardless of who’s calling the shots. This is a core belief of our country and we shouldn’t stand for it.

To be clear, of the 1,300 lessons in CSCOPE, there have only been a small handful of “controversial” examples talked about. Is CSCOPE perfect? No. I would doubt any curriculum of any school, public or private, is perfect. But, in an effort to get rid of the few lessons he didn’t like, Senator Patrick threatened the Regional Service Centers who created CSCOPE to pull it down or he would take his bullying to the next level.

But, apparently even after CSCOPE agreed to pull down the lessons, Senator Patrick still isn’t done. Now he is asking people to “report” school districts that want to continue to use CSCOPE lessons that they helped develop. He says he will “share” that information with the Attorney General for some sort of enforcement action I guess. This looks like the Social Studies police, or SS for short. What’s next? Will the state start barging in the door of a teacher’s room to destroy or confiscate her “controversial” lesson plans. Where does it stop?

Join me in standing up to this kind of bullying. Texas has more than 7,000 locally elected school board members who are responsible for overseeing their local INDEPENDENT school districts. We don’t need more state sanctioned censorship of our classrooms. We need the state to set reasonable standards and then get out of the way and let our local public schools do their job. We need tools like CSCOPE to be available as options for teachers to choose, not forced upon them or taken from them by a bully.

8 thoughts on “Texas SBOE Vice Chair Ratliff Rips Sen. Patrick Again Over CSCOPE Witch Hunt: Bullying and Burning Books

    1. Sen Patrick (among others) has created the 21st century McCarthyism!

      The New Jim Crow is not a new concept, TX (other states too) politics “reeks” of it! Read Michelle Alexander’s book “The New Jim Crow”!

      Sen Patrick, tea partiers, and their ilk are the Neo-Nazi facists slowing building up support over the past couple of decades!

  1. I have contacted Patrick 3 different ways asking what is to replace CSCOPE, how the new curriculum is to be paid for, and how the dickens the teachers will be trained by the time they report in 60 days.

    So far no answer.

  2. Fully agree with Ratliff and kudos to him for writing this. However, worse still will happen unless the people of this state WAKE UP take responsibility and VOTE out these social conservative bullies. Until that happens…

  3. Tom Ratliff is correct in all that he says, but we are looking at something else here. As Sherlock Holmes would say, “Something is afoot with Patrick and his gang.” So, what is afoot?

    I have been seeing a version of it here in Tennessee. What we are seeing is a new arising of “Jim Crow.” Only this time, it is not about race hatred per se. This time the enemy is something called “liberal” or “progressive.” The trouble is that they do not mean real left wingers such as Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, or some homegrown extremist equivalent. Nay!!!

    The problem is that these anti-CSCOPE people are so extremely far to the right that they are indeed the right wing equivalents of the denizens listed above. Hitler, Mussolini, and their homegrown equivalents were extreme right wingers. That is a well-known historical fact.

    The Anti-CSCOPERS are so far to the extreme right that even normally conservative and moderate Texans are effectively defined as “enemies of America” and “enemies of God.” These are the people who believe the meat cutter (Joe Robertson)down at your favorite supermarket is actually a secret espionage agent working under cover for the People’s Republic of China.” The old lady (Mona Hill) with the fitting room key down at Wal-Mart is really a secret assassin sent to live here under cover by a Middle Eastern government. These are the people who seriously think that a monster really does live under little Jimmy Nolan’s bed—and he is a card-carrying member of the Communist Party—and so are all the other red monsters that live under the beds of all the other little boys and girls in Texas.

    Folks. These anti-CSCOPE people have gone insane at best. Being insane can be okay as long as you keep your insanity to yourself and do nothing to hurt your neighbor with it. Just as happened with racism and emancipation in the Old South, it was not enough for some people to just be quietly haters of their fellow man because of his skin color and the fact that he was now a free man. Enter Jim Crow. They stepped across that line into “doing something about it.” That is precisely what is happening now in Texas. The insane right wing elements in Texas have come to believe in their own fantasies, are encouraging other people to believe in their fantasies, and are now acting out their fantasies against normal, average, balanced, and sensible Texans (conservatives slightly right, moderates, and liberals slightly left) as if they are enemies of all that is good and holy. Having crossed that line, the white United Methodist soccer mom in Amarillo needs to be aware that she, her husband, and her three children are the new 1888 negro on center stage in Texas. Prepare for the persecution and understand that you and all normal people like you are now enemies of America and enemies of God—and remember the most important lesson from world history—the enemies of God must be destroyed.

  4. I still don’t understand why the CSCOPE lessons were pulled down.

    What could Patrick possibly do?

  5. I am so overjoyed to see someone stand up to Sen Patrick. We are behind you Vice-Chair Ratliff!