Witch Hunt Takes Down CSCOPE

Once again, politics trumps education in Texas.

State Sen. Dan Patrick, the Republican chairman of the Texas Senate Education Committee, sounded downright gleeful today in making a surprise announcement that the state’s Education Service Centers will no longer provide lessons in their CSCOPE curriculum management system.

“The era of CSCOPE lesson plans has come to an end,” Sen Patrick declared at a Capitol press conference this morning. What remains of CSCOPE will essentially be a guide to scheduling instruction on the curriculum standards. The hundreds of small school districts that use CSCOPE will now have to find other resources for developing lesson plans for teaching those standards.

Officials with the Education Service Centers that created and managed CSCOPE released a letter at the press conference agreeing to stop providing lessons to school districts. The letter came after increasing pressure from Sen. Patrick, the Texas Attorney General’s Office and an assortment of Tea party and other right-wing pressure groups. Those critics have been absurdly claiming that CSCOPE has been indoctrinating students into Islam and Marxism and undermining Christianity and patriotism. (Current and retired teachers had been writing those lessons for CSCOPE. Who knew that so many Texas teachers were Marxists and Islamists? Shocking!)

We sent out the following statement from TFN President Kathy Miller after the press conference:

“Today political bullying resulted in hundreds of school districts getting thrown under the bus and essentially told to figure out for themselves where to find the resources to replace the service CSCOPE had provided them. The big lesson here is that if you can generate a witch hunt that includes enough incendiary and distorted claims, then there are politicians at the Capitol who are ready to throw their supposed commitment to local control out the window.”

All of this comes just days after the State Board of Education‘s special CSCOPE committee met in Dallas to appoint teams to review the curriculum management system. The state board was acting at the request of Sen. Patrick, who earlier this year brokered a deal in which the Education Service Centers agreed to submit their lessons to board review. Apparently, that deal wasn’t good enough for Sen. Patrick or the political activists who have wildly distorted CSCOPE lessons and policies since the start of this controversy.

Of course, some state board members might be relieved to know that they won’t have to review CSCOPE now. That’s because other board members nominated a number of fringe political activists to the review teams appointed last week.

The names of two of those appointees immediately caught our attention: Bill Ames and Stephen Broden. During the State Board of Education’s revision of social studies curriculum standards in 2009, Ames complained bitterly about an “overrepresentation” of minorities in social studies content. You can read more about Ames here. It’s unclear (but seems likely) that Stephen Broden is the Dallas pastor of the same name who, when he ran for Congress as a Tea party activist in 2010, suggested that violent overthrow of the U.S. government might be necessary if the elections that year didn’t bring a change in the nation’s leadership.

We should note that the state board’s CSCOPE committee seemed determined last week to ensure that the review process would be transparent. We applaud that. But perhaps they’ll be relieved that today’s announcement will spare them the embarrassment that was almost sure to follow when activists like Ames and Broden used the CSCOPE review as a public platform to promote their ugly political views.

But none of this is likely to comfort the hundreds of rural and small school districts that were using CSCOPE. Sen. Patrick and other state politicians who proclaim their support for local control clearly decided that they trusted the gross distortions and wild claims of political activists more than the ability of local school administrators and teachers to choose instructional materials that are appropriate for their students.

This witch hunt isn’t likely to end here, by the way. Right-wing activists are already pointing to other curriculum products they want state officials to investigate. Bringing down CSCOPE — and smearing teachers and local school officials associated with it — has only encouraged them to look for more witches to burn.

17 thoughts on “Witch Hunt Takes Down CSCOPE

  1. It’s too bad they decided to scrap the whole thing. Some areas needed more work, but the Math lessons were solid and the Language Arts provided many creative ways to approach literacy.

  2. Ignorant pandering to those who find public education a threat does not advance democracy, and only fuels the fires of Christianists who seek the replacement of our government with Christian Dominion.

    Are the Teabagger Taliban to get away with this? Will it come down to armed struggle against the terrorists in our midst? Do we have any practical alternative?

  3. There is obviously a need to replace CSCOPE now. I have an idea that most Texans could get behind. Let’s have the Baptist Sunday School Board, which is the educational and curriculum arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, develop and implement a large curriculum and instruction package to replace CSCOPE. We could call it YOUNGLIFESCOPE.

    Hit would be a blessin’ to all students, pupils, and irises in our many pubic skules. We calls’em pubic skules cuz of our high white student pregnancy rates which is a restorin’ the white population of Texas through abstinence only sex edification.

  4. Ha! So much for Republican’s oft-repeated claim to support “local control” by school districts! Republicans have been lying and now the citizens of Texas will have to face the consequences. If the hundreds of Texas school districts that have been using CSCOPE can’t continue to use it, they will have to find a much more expensive substitute to teach their students. This has created a lot more extra work for teachers and school officials, not to mention a colossal waste of the money spent to develop CSCOPE in the first place. CSCOPE should be sold to a private company and made available to Texas school districts to purchase using their state funds.

    I personally have long known that Republicans are hypocrites and really don’t support local control or the independence of school districts, but now every Texas citizen should know. When Republicans got complete control of the reins of power in Austin they immediately set about using their official state government offices to force their extreme political, ideological, and religious views onto students, teachers, and schools in Texas. The ultra-right reactionary Republicans in the Legislature and SBOE began to politicize everything to fit their extreme and narrow agenda. CSCOPE is just the latest casualty. When are Texas citizens going to vote these prancing fascist dictators out of office and start providing a competent, mainstream, and secular education for Texas students?

    1. So you say that it was not reasonable for the citizens of Texas to demand to be able to see and review the curriculum being taught their children? Most teachers in the state hate CSCOPE. Does that mean all teachers in Texas are ultra-right-wing? Is it really ultra-right-wing to demand openness and accountability? The fact is that every time something is done in secret in this country you can bet it stinks. The fact that they pulled CSCOPE rather than let it be reviewed pretty much says it all.

      1. You reply is incoherent since you don’t know what you are talking about. I was the first to criticize CSCOPE for not being available to the public for review. That would include parents. I asked that it be opened for examination when I tried to examine it myself.

        Where is your evidence for stating that most teachers in the state hate CSCOPE? I think your statement is nonsense. Feel free to prove me wrong with a survey of teacher opinions.

        Where did I say that Texas teachers are ultra-right-wing? I don’t believe that. I said that about Texas Republican leaders. Did you even read what I wrote before replying and misrepresenting what I said?

        Are you really saying that the CSCOPE writers “pulled CSCOPE rather than let it be reviewed”? That’s the opposite of what happened. They agreed to open CSCOPE to the public but were bullied by Sen. Dan Patrick to pull the lesson plans instead. You’ve really got your facts mixed up.

  5. I personally distrusted cscope. There were strange, disjointed lesson plans handed out in 1st and 4th grades when our private school signed up for it. Even the teachers (when we inquired) were a little uncomfortable. When they said we couldn’t see the plans beforehand , and there were no textbooks, and some lessons required Internet searches, we started looking into Cscope. Surprise- lots of negative publicity. The clencher was the inability to see the plans.

    Our school is dropping it. If its good, throw out the bad and make it better – let the parents see it, let it be reviewed by boards and rolled out in trials.

  6. All I can say is that my husband (a PhD master teacher) and the rest of the math department at his high school will be doing cartwheels to be free of this dumbed-down curriculum.

  7. I’ve asked many people in my area (of Texas) what CSCOPE is and why it should have been thrown out. I can tell you that for as many people that I asked I got as many answers. I can now understand why people think that it was “evil”- it is easy to label something evil when you have limited knowledge about a subject. I can understand parents wanting to know what their kids are studying at school. That makes perfect sense! And my parents knew because I actually had homework and did my homework. Too many students have become lazy and non-caring about their education and the more that happens the harder the teachers have to work at “passing them” as the administration is pushing you to get kids from grade to grade and out into the world just working, even if it is only a trade. Giving homework tends to add to the teachers day so they are reluctant to give homework.

    Today jobs are getting harder and harder to come by and I can understand trying to get students into the job force but lets face it; There are only so many jobs out there. Our lazy and over demanding workforce forces many jobs out of the country. It scares me where we will be in 5 or 10 years. How low can we set our expections, how low can we drop our standards. Competition for good jobs are going away. Middle aged workers are competing with high school kids for the same jobs. I am not a fan of throwing the baby out with the bathwater and it seems that is what has been done here.

  8. And on the subject of privatizing CSCOPE. Yes do we really want to add yet another out of pocket expense for teacher, especially new teachers with yet another expense? State based forced minimums for new teachers here is $27,320 this year. If you are going through an alternative certification program you can easily or student loans you can easly pay around 400-500 per month for that in your first year. Average teacher spends 400-500 easy to get up and going right from the start to get room decorations and supplies. So if you figure it out the average teacher makes around 2273 a month for the first year if you spread that out over 12 months. This doesn’t include taxes and health insurance and that leaves the teacher with 1227 (or 727 for the first month)after all your expense you are looking at about 4.23 an hour. Add on the upfront costs for fingerprints (somewhere around $50, your test for your specialty $135 and PPR exam, also $135) Wow, who thought teaching would cost you money. But every pencil I buy, every 3 ring binder that I give to a student because their family has to choose between school supplies and food, every box of kleenex or hand sanitizer I buy for my classroom (and yes they say that teaching is the only job you steal from home to get supplies at work is true!) All the school TShirts, hats, tickets to the sporting events, sponsorships, joining fees and dues for the many professional organizations that recruit you, professional insurance, the faculty flower fund donations, and the list goes on and on! At the end of the day I still wouldn’t change it for the world when I see that one kid you are trying to get through to have an ah ha moment!