Months after becoming one of the favored bogeymen among certain right-wing circles, it appears CSCOPE, as a lesson framework used in nearly 900 school districts around the state, is no more. State Sen. Dan Patrick held a press conference Monday morning announcing that he had received a letter from the Texas Education Service Center Curriculum Collaborative alerting him that they would cancel CSCOPE lesson plans at this Friday's meeting.
"The era of CSCOPE lesson plans has come to an end," Patrick, the chair of the Senate Education Committee, said at Monday's press conference. "At the end of the day, I think this is the best move forward...for our students, for our parents, and for our teachers...This was a program that had issues within the content of the lesson plans that brought concerns to parents and legislators and teachers as well as part of the business operations behind it."
Patrick's office also issued a press release on Monday further detailing why the approximately 75 percent of Texas schools that currently employ CSCOPE -- including both charter and Christian schools -- will not be allowed to use any such lessons following the August 31 end date. "[W]hat the last several months has proven is that the state will have to create a plan to monitor all on line [sic] material in the future so that our schools and classroom remain completely transparent to parents and the legislature knows what is being taught in our classrooms across Texas."
Indeed, the complaint of a lack of transparency within CSCOPE recently prompted Patrick to help formulate SB 1406, which "place[d] CSCOPE under permanent review of the" State Board of Education. However, Friday's vote from the 20 members of TESCCC seems to abrogate the need for any form of lesson monitoring.
Numerous smaller ISDs relied on CSCOPE for relatively inexpensive lesson creations, and questions remain as to what will replace CSCOPE in the school districts that currently employ such lessons. However, when Janice VanCleave, who runs the CSCOPE Review site, heard today's news, she let out a call of celebration.
"I said, 'Yeehaw!' -- but this was just another milestone," VanCleave told Hair Balls. "Teachers have never been allowed to download the lessons, but now CSCOPE is showing them how to download, how to edit, etc. All of this was done because they were going to dump the lessons...Don't let this be any indication that these people are out -- they're not."
VanCleave added that her largest claims against CSCOPE arose not simply from the fact that she believed those behind the lesson frameworks were attempting to implement a "progressive teaching method" but that, she says, certain schools were spending textbook monies on CSCOPE lessons.
"Sure enough, CSCOPE did not support having textbooks, reason being they are not rigorous," VanCleave added. "Oh, fiddly-foo! What it means is they used textbook money to purchase CSCOPE! ... It's kind of like the Pied Piper and all the little mice following."
The move is being seen as a victory for right-wing activists, many of whom have cited CSCOPE for an apparent "pro-Islam bias." (Why assorted Christian schools would opt to use pro-Islamic lessons remains a grand spiritual mystery.) CSCOPE had drawn national attention over the past few months, with such well-rounded minds as Glenn Beck and David Barton, Texas's favorite faux historian, examining why nearly 900 Texas schools had employed pro-socialist, anti-Christian lessons within their classrooms.
As Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller wrote in a press release, "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."
One of the most humorous, inane examples of CSCOPE's insidious anti-Americanism came when a lesson purported to ask students whether or not King George would have viewed those leading the Boston Tea Party as "terrorists." (The answer is, of course.) Other seemingly scandalous lesson plans revolved around creating a student's own socialist flag and questioning Christopher Columbus's impact.
Patrick, meanwhile, had hinted for weeks that rather than simply add more bureaucracy and oversight, the best step for CSCOPE would be to simply cease creating lesson plans altogether, and focus solely on curriculum management. Only a few days ago, it appeared TESCCC had yet to decide CSCOPE's fate. But per his announcement Monday, it seems Patrick got precisely what he was looking for.