Texas lawmakers announced Monday that CSCOPE, a controversial online curriculum system used in 78 percent of school districts in the state, will be removed from the state’s education system. The curriculum program has been lambasted by parents, faculty, and conservative groups for “anti-American” content.
Texas state Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston) said, in both a press conference and a press release, “I’m very pleased to announce this morning that the era of CSCOPE lesson plans has come to an end.”
During the press conference, Dr. Kyle Wargo, a board member of the Texas Education Service Center Curriculum Collaborative (TESCCC), which is CSCOPE’s governing board, asserted, “CSCOPE is no longer doing lessons, period. One size does not fit all. Those lessons, every lesson, needs to be developed on a local level.”
Patrick thanked all parents who got involved in their children’s education and the state’s legislators who worked together to remove the controversial program from the state’s education system.
CSCOPE is a comprehensive, grades K-12 curriculum system whereby lesson plans, which are written by CSCOPE staff, and both current and former teachers, are delivered online to teachers who then can organize their teaching points as required by their state.
Texas CSCOPE Review, an independent watchdog group, uncovered an out-of-date, optional world history CSCOPE lesson plan on the topic of terrorism, which reportedly gave the Boston Tea Party as an example of “an act of terrorism.”
In the lesson plan, the teacher’s instructions are provided as follows:
Read the following to the students as a whole as if it just happened within the hour in a location near by.
News report: A local militia, believed to be a terrorist organization, attacked the property of private citizens today at the port. Although no one was injured in the attack, a large quantity of merchandise, considered to be valuable to its owners and loathsome to the perpetrators, was destroyed. The terrorists, dressed as natives and apparently intoxicated, were able to escape into the night with the help of local citizens who harbor these fugitives and conceal their identities from the authorities. It is believed that the terrorist attack was a response to the policies enacted by the occupying country’s government.
The watchdog group also cited that a CSCOPE lesson plan for sixth graders asked students to design a flag for a new socialist nation. The lesson plan reads as follows:
Notice socialist/communist nations use symbolism on their flags representing various aspects of their economic system. Imagine a new socialist nation is creating a flag and you have been put in charge of creating a flag. Use symbolism to represent aspects of socialism/communism on your flag. What kind of symbolism/colors would you use?
According to the Star-Telegram, when members of the state Senate Education Committee interrogated the creators of CSCOPE last January, a string of witnesses criticized the program for promoting values they said are “anti-Christian at best and openly socialist at worst.”
Witnesses also complained that CSCOPE makes it difficult for nonteachers to review the program.
Wade Lebay, however, director of state CSCOPE at the Region 13 Education Service Center in Austin, defended the online system. Lebay said CSCOPE offers approximately 1,600 model lessons that districts can access for a fee of only $7 per student.
“It’s built by teachers, designed by teachers and that’s what’s powerful about CSCOPE,” he said.
Texas CSCOPE Review reported in March that the State Board of Education had not evaluated the CSCOPE material, and that it would take years for all K-12 lessons to be evaluated. The watchdog group found fault with social studies lessons in which students are required to explain how Islam influences law and government in the Muslim world.
In addition, the watchdog group cited two Texas World History standards, called TEKS, in which it claims the CSCOPE lesson plan:
…twists the objectives and adds incorrect religious information. By introducing the idea that Allah and the God of the Bible are the same, then verses from the Qua’ran teaching that Allah is the almighty God further indoctrinates your child.
The red type below shows the CSCOPE objective:
WH.1 History. The student understands traditional historical points of reference in world history. The student is expected to:
WH.1B Identify major causes and describe the major effects of the following events from 500 BC to AD 600: the development of the classical civilizations of Greece, Rome, Persia, India (Maurya and Gupta), China (Zhou, Qin, and Han), and the development of major world religions.
Allah – monotheistic deity; also recognized as the God of Abraham (Yahweh)
WH.23 Culture. The student understands the history and relevance of major religious and philosophical traditions. The student is expected to:
WH.23A Describe the historical origins, central ideas, and spread of major religious and philosophical traditions, including Buddhism, Christianity,Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, and the development of monotheism.
Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) – one supreme God; also referenced as Yahweh or Allah
According to the Houston Chronicle, on Friday the CSCOPE governing board is expected to unanimously vote to end the lesson plan component of the program. State Sen. Patrick said that, in the future, he would like to see school districts partner on curriculum development.