Told You So: Anti-CSCOPE Fanatics See a New Dragon to Slay

We already told you that the political activists who promoted the witch hunt that appears to have gutted the CSCOPE curriculum tool were already turning their attention to new targets. Well, check out this new post on the blog “Red Hot Conservative” written by Ginger Russell, one of the most vocal CSCOPE critics. What’s got Ginger’s hair on fire this time is an obviously Marxist educational tool called… Project-Based Learning.

If you hadn’t already seen just how kooky some of these critics’ arguments really are, you might think Ginger’s post was published in The Onion or some other parody publication. But no, she’s serious:

It became apparent to me that CSCOPE was part of a bigger problem and would lay a foundation for Project Based Learning (PBL). PBL is based on the teaching philosphy [sic] of Marxist Lev Vygotsky and Progressive educator John Dewey. The Texas Education Service Centers, Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) and Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) are running full speed ahead to implement PBL. Parents and Taxpayers need to be very concerned about PBL.

And just what is Project-Based Learning? Here’s a piece about PBL from the PBS program Frontline in 2012. Essentially, teachers use challenging projects to tie student learning in school to real-world issues.

Ginger’s blog post offers a table comparing Project-Based Learning to “Traditional (Classical)” learning. She uses these terms to describe traditional learning: “conservative, capitalist (individualist), textbooks/vetted materials, realism, logical (productive).” Here’s how she describes Project-Based Learning: “iberal/radical/progressive, socialist (collectivist), textbooks out/unvetted materials, relativism/social constructivism, emotional (social).” In social studies, she writes, traditional learning focuses on “American heritage, national sovereignty, and cross-cultural studies.” Project-Based Learning, on the other hand, focuses on “diversity, multiculturalism, and global citizenship.”

We’re also told that traditional learning is based on “citizenship and self-control,” is “pro-faith,” and emphasizes “merit.” Project-Based Learning instead is based on “relativism and self-esteem,” is “anti-faith,” and emphasizes “entitlement.”

And, of course, Ginger sees President Obama somehow involved in this Marxist conspiracy. She writes:

“May 9th, President Obama visited a praised Manor ISD’s [in Texas] New Tech High School which is has fully implemented Project Based Learning.  (His visit speaks volumes to those who value a traditional education).”

In a reasonable world, people like Ginger could promote this kind of nonsense with little real consequence for the rest of the state. But as we now know, state Sen. Dan Patrick — the Republican chair of the Senate Education Committee — and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott have been listening to people like Ginger weave their CSCOPE conspiracy theories for months now. And because of the political bullying from Patrick and Abbott, hundreds of school districts are losing the CSCOPE lesson plans they have been using for years.

So will we hear Sen. Patrick call for hearings on Project-Based Learning? Will Attorney General Abbott say he is “investigating” PBL (as he said about CSCOPE)? Well, they do have elections coming up, and it’s already pretty clear which voters they think make up their base.

40 thoughts on “Told You So: Anti-CSCOPE Fanatics See a New Dragon to Slay

  1. I have been fighting against this Core Curriculum for over two decades. So it has a fancy new name, it’s all the same: it does nothing to actually educate children, because it’s designed to indoctrinate. Too bad you don’t understand that. I am grateful to Ginger, and I don’t even know her.

      1. “Old social engineers never die; they just sit and wait, change a few words around, and hope the public has a short memory.”
        –State Rep. Ron Gamble of Pennsylvania
        Core Curriculum/CSCOPE is only the latest name for the same old mush. In 1995 it was “New Standards.” Before that it was “Outcomes-Based Education.” Before that it was “Mastery Learning.” And none of it works — as TFN and other liberal elitists well know.

    1. Yep Lisa. The window is closing fast. Between 1991 and 2001, we as a nation had a golden opportunity to use our nuclear weapons to impose a Pax Americana on the whole world. We could have literally forced all of them dangerous foreigners to become just like Americans, and we could have stuck a gun to their heads and said, “Believe in the Southern Baptist version of Jesus or we’ll blow your brains out!!!” Then it all went wrong Lisa. The World Trade Centers got blown up. The American people were fooled into turning over the U.S. Congress to Nancy Pelosi. Then the last whisper of a chance that this fair country of ours had went up in flames when the American people were fooled again into voting an n-word into the White House. An n-word as President of the United States. Can you imagine that? Then in 2012 someone fooled them into voting again for that same n-word.

      Then again. Maybe the people were not fooled. Maybe the people really wanted an intelligent and capable n-word to run the country—and the only fools are really people like you and Michele Bachmann.

  2. You’re blog post doesn’t tell us where Ginger is wrong. Education of our children is too important to merely critically say “they see a new dragon to slay.”
    Follow it up with research so that we can look at both sides and make an informed decision.

    1. It is clear you are just as uneducated as Ginger. Where she went wrong is there is no proof. It is an idealogical rant and not based on science. Where you both go wrong is thinking you are smart enough to continue getting away with your witch hunt. Study your history-I mean actual history, not your revisionist.

    2. Learn the difference between “you’re” and “your” if you want to be taken seriously on any level. Until then, maybe you should post on Hot Air.

      1. Are you kidding me Gary? “You’re” is a contraction for “you are.” You really are dumber than I thought.

          1. It appeared you were replying to my post where I used it correctly. Now I see where you were commenting on Michelle’s poor grammar. Please forgive me. I watched the whole circus unfold during the Senate Public Education Committee hearings, and I was appalled that no one challenged or stood up to these bullies. I am way to ready to jump this time. I do not like when these evangelical nut jobs attack public education, and I am chomping at the bit to take them on. Sorry Gary!

    3. The data supporting the effectiveness of well-structured PBL and the “progressive” educational structure go back decades, to Ralph Tyler’s “8 year study” between the two world wars. In that study, he demonstrated conclusively that the students graduating from “progressive” high schools did as well in college as those from “traditional” schools. Moreover, looking beyond grades and graduation rates, he found that the students from “progressive” schools were far more advanced as self-motivated learners compared to their more traditionally-educated peers. Of course, self-motivated independent learners who engage in critical thinking may not be what Texas conservatives want?

  3. CSCOPE went down, and so will Common Core curriculum. Just because you make fun of those who pay for the education of their children, and write hubris filled commentary, does not mean you have facts. In fact, your entire op-ed DOES NOT refute all the arguments made against CSCOPE, so one has to ask if the only reason you even commented was to stick your tongue out like a 5 year old. Citing PBS in no way helps you, either. So your comments then clearly tell me you either don’t know the curriculum and your entire column was meant soley to be a hit job on Ginger Russell. Not overall bad for a left leaning juvenile; pretty bad for an adult with no real debating skills.

    1. And you do know the cirriculum ? Feel free to cite specific examples of what’s wrong with it.

      Should be easy enough for someone so intimately familiar with it

  4. It is always sad for me to read one sided articles, as this one clearly is. My hope for the author is that one day, very soon, he will simply wake up and realize the obvious.

    Dan, did it even seem the slightest bit odd to you how quickly CSCOPE folded- only days after they handed over 5,000 pages of their financial documents? Do you think that maybe they had something to hide? If their business dealings were even remotely legitimate, then I can confidently say that this situation would have turned out quite differently. But it didn’t, did it Dan?

    I recommend strongly that you take a good hard look at your perspective and open your mind to the possibility that you very well could be mistaken in your judgement. Perhaps you should consider asking some deeper questions, like why they so quickly all agreed to get out of the lesson writing business. Was it to avoid further investigation and exposure? Hhhmmmm… Maybe Ginger was onto something?

    Ginger, along with the many other concerned citizens who spoke out against CSCOPE, are owed a debt of gratitude for exposing what has proved itself to be one very shady operation. I, for one, am grateful for their voices and am ready to fight the “good fight” right alongside them.

      1. My comment clearly references how quickly they “folded” once they turned over their financials, George. Not when the inquiry began.

        1. Kari,
          That the ESCs “folded” was a product of political pressure from Sen. Patrick and Attorney General Abbott. If the financials show something bad, an investigation into that wouldn’t be stopped by “folding” on the issue of providing lessons. But no one has provided even a shred of evidence showing that the ESCs were engaged in any financial shenanigans. All we’ve seen are unsubstantiated claims and reckless smears from critics.

        2. And they are still there as a business entity. They just pulled down the lessons.

    1. Dan Patrick esentially threatened the CSCOPE people…You drop the lessons or I’ll do everything in my power to close all service centers.
      I think the CSCOPE people had no choice. Why would the CSCOPE people choose to hurt thousands of teachers across the state of Texas by pulling teacher suport by the ESC’s?
      I think Ginger wants to go back to classrooms where teachers lecture, kids sit in rows, and schools had the right to spank children. 19th century schools- not 21st century.

  5. “emotional (social)”

    Y’all know what that means don’t you? That means the Good Samaritan in the New Testament should have rib-kicked the poor man who had been beaten and left for dead and said to him “Physician heal thyself—and get a job you Hebrew creep.”

    I have about had it with terms such as “conservative wingnut.” I am moving on to more apropos language such as “low-life pond scum.”

  6. Those who would deny a good education to others deserve it not for themselves. But hey, the very fact that all you wingnuts could write all that crap above just proves that no one can take it away from you because you never had one to begin with.

  7. My mother always said, if a person does not have a strong argument for their side, the only thing they have left to do is call the opposing side names. Well said, mom. Frankly, I am glad to have CSCOPE lessons gone and hope the remaining parts are soon gone too.

  8. Wow. You know, I’ve been using Project-Based Learning for years,and as far as I was aware it didn’t have a political ideology…I thought it was just a really neat way for those kids who build a castle wall in the playground to learn about the Medieval Age. In cases like this woman, I’m pretty sure this is just a conservative knee-jerk reaction: if it isn’t EXACTLY how things were when they were growing up, it’s wrong.

  9. It’s one thing to throw around words like “Marxist”, “anti-faith,” “radical/liberal/progressive” and expect good conservatives to freak out.

    Its another thing to provide specific examples of bias and WHY those examples are biased. Unsurprisingly, that was lacking during the CSCOPE witch hunt, and has been conspicuously absent here as well.

  10. In so far as Project-Based Learning is focused on the “real world”, that would indeed seem to be disfavoring “faith” and revelatory knowledge for a preference of non-faith based empiricism (sweeping the Münchausen trilemma under the carpet).

  11. Read through the table in Ms. Russell’s post and you’ll see she’s made a host of unsubstantiated value judgements. She then directly contradicting one of the right’s favorite former SBOE members Don McLeroy who once infamously said “I’m standing up to experts”. When discussing evolution people in Ms. Russell’s camp often say they want students to be able to question the science teacher but in her table she rejects that notion. All I can say is if you want to have it both ways you really have nothing at all.

  12. The Religious Right will never succeed in destroying our public schools so they can replace them with a system of Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical private schools to indoctrinate our children with their ideas and beliefs. It will never happen for three reasons:

    1) Christians of other denominations and people of other religions will never allow it. Just in case you have never noticed, other Christians think you are not very bright and are not particularly fond of you.

    2) People of no religion at all or people who claim a religion but never darken the door of a church (e.g., Beer Bubba’s) outnumber you and always will. The Bible says so. And you have to remember the old fundie adage that most of the people who claim to be Christians in your own pews are not really Christians in the sense that you would like them to be. When push comes to shove, they will flee from supporting you.

    3) A very large number of ordinary Americans (including me) actually love and support our public schools. The schools in my area are some of the best in the nation. Float some of your nutty ideas to 1,000 local parents here, and you would be laughed out of the room.

    I still believe the only choice left for you people is the one your own religious leaders SET FOR YOU in 1925. Separate yourself from the evil world, have no interaction with evildoers (which is everyone else in the world but you), go live under a moist rock somewhere, and wait there quietly until Jesus comes to rescue you. That was THE PLAN in 1925 because your pastors knew that the political road you are on now will never work in a sinful world.

  13. I don’t see any citations on that table. I’d like to know who wrote the descriptions of PBL. I’d also like to know why we should oppose it other than its associations with words like “progressive.”I’d also like to see research showing the effectiveness of textbooks as opposed to other instructional media. It’s really sad how little the strong Western traditions of reason, evidence, and objectivity are reflected in these current tempests.

    1. George,
      The table is part of the materials one of the more prominent CSCOPE critics, Jeanine “Ms. Mac” McGregor, uses in her presentations to tea party groups around Texas. McGregor writes and sells her own curriculum materials.

      1. Yeah, I’m familiar with her, and I also recognize Donna Garner and her type1/type2 distortions. That’s my point. I think they accurately characterize type 1 because that’s what they believe in. I don’t see why anyone should trust their analysis of anything they characterize as type 2.

        1. George,
          Yeah, Garner’s hokum is in there, too. They’re all drinking from the same well.

  14. George: Odd, too, the concern about two philosopher sort of guys, Dewey and Vygotsky, that have been in the grave for 60 and 80 years, respectively.

    1. It is odd. There are many teachers I’ve known who never heard of Vygotsky and have just a passing familiarity with Dewey who just happen to know that kids like to do important work and complete meaningful tasks as opposed to sitting still all day filling out worksheets or “taking notes.”

  15. I believe, Ms. Russell, you are missing the separation of church and state a given right by our constitution.
    If you do not believe in PBL, then it seems you would believe in our football teams studying plays out of the playbook, but never actually practicing them. We call this direct instruction. Knowing how much Texas is invested in football, is this really how you would like them to learn to play?
    PBL helps students learn things on their own way, which is harder to remove from their memory, helps them connect their experiences to other contents and helps students learn multiple representations of problems versus the one size fits all. We do not live in a society where one way will be enough for every student.
    You really sound dumb with your comments about PBL. Many school districts have adopted this approach that do not use CSCOPE. Did you know that PBL requires cooperative learning too? Are you against students working together? Or should students sit in rows, be quite and listen to a lecture (Like in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) “Anyone, Anyone?”
    What worked when you were growing up, does not work for our current students who are digital natives and want to design projects with other students.

    Ms. Russell, you have no clue about what works for students today, and you lack research to support your stance.